Dearest Rachel –
It’s just about nine in the morning, and I’m back to wandering around that strip mall I talked about last night. I have a little bit more purpose in this morning’s walk, as I’ve realized what I’ve forgotten to pack (and which you would have taken care of, so I would never have given the matter the slightest thought). Now, I already knew I didn’t have my flip-flops; the ones we picked up in Miami two years ago seemed to have disappeared in my closet, but I did bring a pair of sandals, so I’m okay with that – although if I could find another pair here, I wouldn’t mind too much. No, it turns out that it completely slipped my mind to pack a towel.
Douglas Adams would be very disappointed in me. Still, I figure that the least I can do is to follow his advice and not panic; there are shops around here, after all.
There are two problems with that, however. One is that it’s still a little early for places to open up; the best I can do is wait until 9:30. The second is that the smaller boutiques are closed on Saturday. I’ll leave you to figure out why. Nothing wrong with that, mind you, but it’s a little inconvenient for me. But then, it’s my hole, and I’ve dug it, so… yeah.
I did check in at the Winn-Dixie, to see if they might have soft goods, like a Jewel-Osco would. Unfortunately, they’re strictly groceries; I found myself speedwalking past each aisle, only to verify my conclusion. Also, I had to catch myself short at least twice, as someone was coming out of the aisle I was walking in front of with a full cart. It would not be a good thing for me to crash into them, but I came pretty close to falling over in order to stop.
One other observation at this point: Florida has yet to figure out how to balance its air conditioning. Much like when we were on our honeymoon thirty years ago, when it’s over 80° outside, they seem to insist on overcompensating by blowing enough air to keep down around 60° inside. Someone’s going to catch cold – or worse; you know what I mean – from this constant bouncing between too hot and too cold.
And consider it; the ship is only going to be heading further south from here. So it’s just going to be getting warmer outside; the question is, whether the ship can balance indoor and outdoor temperatures better than all of the denizens of this state can. Otherwise, I’m getting a pretty good preview of what I’m in for throughout the next week – good thing I’m wearing what amounts to my heaviest polo today, so anything else I wear will be cooler (temperature-wise; I know better that to think I can aspire to the other kind of ‘cool’ at my age). If I comment more about it over the next week, you’ll know how that went; if I stay silent, they’ve either mastered the art of balance, or the art of distraction. Either way, it’ll be an improvement.
One place is opening at 9:30, and I join a group of a half dozen various people waiting for the doors. As I’m standing here, dictating to Siri, it does occur to me that I might be just as well off to wait until I get to Coco Cay to pick these things up; there’s no question about them having shops there, and they’d be proper souvenirs if I got them there. On the other hand, they would probably just have been imported there, and have a premium tacked on them as a result. I guess I still can’t quite shake the frugality we learned as a younger married couple.
At least, it’s a fairly quick stop, once I’m inside. There aren’t that many beach towels, so I settle on something that looks more like a bath towel. I just can’t see myself toting around something that looks like a fuzzy Hawaiian shirt. At least this thing is fluffy. I even managed to find a decent pair of flip-flops; although, it’s a little awkward as I turn from the shoe department to make my way toward the cashier, and find myself surrounded by ladies underwear. Whose idea was it to put men’s shoes next to the lingerie department? As I’ve said before, it wouldn’t be so bad if I had someone to buy that kind of thing for, but on my own, it’s an awkward experience, even if I do get out of there quickly.
My excursion turns out to be cheaper than breakfast (they had a buffet at the hotel that I thought was part of the service – live and learn, I guess), and I’m back to my room with over an hour to spare. That gives me time to brush my teeth, finish packing, write all this out to you, and call it a morning, for all intents and purposes. Assuming the Internet is sufficient there, my next letter to you will be coming from the ship.
Until then, honey, keep an eye out for me.