Friday, 7 November 2014


By Sanne

We arrived in Miami in dismal weather. Everything was the colour grey and it was pissing down rain. It had been a bumpy 4-hour flight from Bogota flying almost the entire way immersed in clouds. As we approached Miami we flew over the eastern end of the Everglades and it was nothing but a vast expanse of flat...and of course grey. Not exactly the Miami you see on postcards.

Getting through immigration was super easy, much easier than we had expected. We had been quite paranoid and thinking they might not let us in unless we have everything in order. So we were armed with everything they might ask us for such as printouts of bank statement (where we had gotten Mark's mum to temporarily put in extra money so it looked like we were not too poor), an onward flight ticket out of the US, contact details of people we were staying name it, we had it. And guess what - they didn't ask for any of it! The officer simply asked how long we planned to stay in the US and that was it. He gave us a 3-months stamp (we don't need a visa) and we were officially in the US of A. Even customs were easy; we decided to declare the few foods we were carrying and we were allowed to keep all of it. So all our paranoia had been for absolutely nothing!

We took the airport shuttle to Miami Beach which only took about 20 mins and it dropped us off almost on the doorstep of our hostel The Freehand. We had been unsuccessful in finding a couch host in Miami Beach so we had to stay in a hostel, and because we're back to Western World prices we had to stay in a dorm which we've only done once before on this trip - in Rio de Janeiro. But although I'm not a huge fan of hostels, this one was without a doubt the nicest hostel I've ever stayed in. It's in an old Art Deco building with really cool courtyard and pool, just a shame the weather was so horrible. Miami was getting a low-pressure system from Mexico so the next 4 or 5 days were a mix of wind and rain, with little bits of sun in between, not allowing for much beach time. It didn't matter too much though as we spent most of the first couple of days in the room making skype calls to insurance companies and the bank which we still had issues with over the money that had "disappeared" from our bank accounts in Colombia. In the end we found a cheap motorbike insurance through Progressive ($99 for two bikes for a year!). The medical insurance was much more expensive (medical insurance goes up astronomically when you add US onto your trip) and we just had to swallow that expense into our meager budget.

Our first impression with Miami was: Does anyone speak English? Are we still in South America? I'm not joking, walking around Miami Beach all you heard was Spanish! I had heard that apparently more English is spoken in Panama City than in Miami. Even all the shops you go into are run by Spanish speakers (I suspect mainly Cubans?). It was quite fascinating and made the transition into US very easy! The second impression was: There's a lot of money here! The amount of Lamborghini's, Ferrari's, Bentley's and Maserati's we saw was insane. But in a place where valet parking costs $40 you gotta have money. Despite the weather we both really enjoyed Miami; the Art Deco buildings were really cool and it had a nice, relaxed atmosphere. We met some cool folks at the hostel too which we hung out with.

We found out that our bikes had arrived in Miami the same day as us and so we went to the airport to pick them up. First we went to Centurion Cargo where they had all the paperwork ready for us, they then sent us to Customs which was a short 1 hour walk each way (we were told it was not far so we walked there, which we quickly came to regret). We were in and out of customs in 5 minutes, again super easy and they didn't even want to check the bikes. Then back to Centurion where we had to pay $50 in money order and we walked to the warehouse where our bikes were waiting for us. We freed them from the tonnes of cling wrap that had been wrapped around them, pumped up the tires which were at 0 psi (apparently the Colombian police let the tires down to see if you have hidden any drugs inside them) and then it was off to a petrol station to pump some American gas into them. They were pretty rough, especially Mark's bike that needed the new slide for the carburetor but we made it back to the hostel and parked them out front on the street. A stupid thing: even though the hostel had lots of space for parking it was policy not to allow guests to park their vehicles there in case it gets stolen and we sue them! Welcome back to 1st World Country rules and regulations that cannot be bent!

The next day we packed our bikes and left Miami Beach to drive up to Fort Lauderdale, just a little north of Miami. There we had been invited to stay with couch hosts Derek and Iwanka, a Polish couple who work here on super yachts and regularly sail to Bahamas and the Caribbean. Tough life indeed. When we first met Derek he wore a shirt saying Redneck and I had my fears, but they were totally unfounded and we immediately hit it off with him and Iwanka and their whole crew of friends who always hang around their house which they call HQ. And it really is. That first evening we had a big BBQ, meeting loads of cool and funny people and we all had such a great time. The next day they took us onboard "their" luxury cruiser which only costs $122,000 a week to hire... I've never ever been on such a flash boat before and probably never will again. It's basically a floating 5 star hotel. There's a spa, jet skis and all the amenities you might want. But what I really couldn't get over was the amount of TVs. They were everywhere, apart from your usual spots, they were in the kitchen, in front of the spa and in all the bathrooms! The master suite bathroom had 2 toilets (don't know when you'd want to go to the toilet with someone else but anyway), 2 showers and 2 flatscreen tvs in front of each toilet. That way I guess you can watch The Kardashians while taking a shit!

Then it was off to Pompano Beach where our next host was Hendi, a fellow motorbike rider who's actually French but lives in the US. Not for much longer though as he is planning a big motorbike trip with his wife Elisa start of next year. The part we had ordered had already arrived but much to our dismay when we tried to fit it - it didn't work. This was extremely frustrating and I must commend Mark on his numerous attempts at working it out, but in the end we realised it must be the part that's something wrong with; this was an aftermarket part so we tried to order the original part which was slightly more expensive. When the new part arrived the next day thankfully it worked and we breathed a sigh of relief! Hendi was a great host and helped us a lot and we really enjoyed our time with him and his wife. He told us a lot of interesting stories about America and they way of life here and it was quite an eye-opener...

We had to move on after a few days as we had a Halloween Party to go to back at HQ. First though, Derek took us to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show where we got in for free thanks to his passes and we also sneaked in to have a fancy lunch for crew members only; we just had to say what boat we were working on and our position there, so I was stewardess and Mark engineer on the Silverado which is 35 metres long! All totally made up of course and it worked. Good scam!
The boats at the show were unfortunately just a tiny bit out of our price range and we forgot our credit card so we had to resort to window shopping which is a lot cheaper than spending $50,000,000 on a boat.

The whole crew got together for the Halloween party which was held at another CS'ers house. Everything was for free from the food to the booze and I can safely say that everyone got quite drunk! I almost got my ass kicked because I asked a lady if she was dressed as a Sasquatch. Apparently she wasn't. So she wasn't too happy with me and didn't like that I kept yelling out Sasquatch every time she walked past. Oh well! It was a great night and the very first Halloween party for Mark and I. I must say I think that is one tradition we should adopt from the US! It's so much fun!

The next day everyone in the house just slept all day long but in the evening the house was full again with people and we cooked for them all. We had such an awesome time in Fort Lauderdale with these people and we felt like we were saying goodbye to new friends when we left. Derek and Iwanka are actually planning a RTW motorbike trip themselves and I so hope for them that they make it happen and I very much hope to see them in Australia someday soon!

Miami Beach - Art Deco District

Lots of cool cars around this stretch of road

Art Deco cool

Miami Beach in some shitty weather...good for kitesurfing though

 Miami by night

Freeing the babies from their clingwrap hell

Yep, we're in gun country now!

 We suspect our friend Flanders has been here...

Seeing how the other half lives

Just a wee tinny really...

Derechek and Iwanka

Making myself at home in the luxurious bathroom of the boat...

Mark in the hot seat as captain

Enjoying the sun on Pompano Beach

 Mark's bike in pieces

Hendi and Mark

At Fort Lauderdale International Boat show, mingling with millionaires and wannabees

What's a boat without a private helicopter?

The Ebola panic even reached the boat show...

Notice the price tag for this boat...

Turkey Boy getting ready for Halloween

Happy Halloween!

The Honey Badger crew (they don't give a sh*t)

Who's the weirdo in the left-hand corner???

Good times!

Morning after Turkey Boy didn't feel so flash

Our bikes and Derek and Iwanka's V-strom

The Polish Body Building Champion '89

Honey Badger (he doesn't give a sh*t) Click here.

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