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Two days ago I got on a bus and left Segovia behind along with my semi new Quechua rain jacket. hopefully the bus company turns it in to lost and found. My flight was scheduled to leave at 12 noon but we missed our allotted take off time so we had to wait about an hour and a half for the next available one. No problem except that when I arrived to Miami I had a connecting flight for Tampa. with the delay i was left about an hour to get from my light, through customs, then passport control then find my gate; Miami airport is a mess, organizationally speaking.

When we landed they made an announcement saying anyone connecting to Tampa make your presence known as you step off of the plane; they handed me a bright orange paper so I could cut everyone in lines. there were actually quite a few of us and our “express line was going slower than the normal line so a guy called the guy in charge over and asked if we could open another line for us. American work ethic is crazy after being in Europe; this boss man was pumped up and hollered out, ” everyone her scoot over to this line everyone from here back you mover over here and in less than two minutes I and countless others were through and on to the next part of trying to not miss our flights.

The heat and humidity was seeping into the shuttle that takes you to different terminals. luckily I had a pair of shorts in my bag and no one else in the tram with me so I could get down to my boxers and change out of my jeans.

No one was waiting for me at the gate when I arrived, confusedly spinning in circles looking around for my grandparents and mom who were supposedly coming to meet me. I had no telephone so I asked some guy but only got the answering machine. a few laps around the airport later the intercom announced, ” Tampa Internationa Airport is happy to offer free wireless internet…”, so I used Skype and made a second call. Mom was outside waiting and grandparents at our house waiting.

like when I was in the commissary at the military base in Germany I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face, not necessarily from being happy to be home but from the oddity of it all, like living dejavu.

Things were strangely the same, like I had never left. however there were some things that had changed, we have new sidewalks in the neighborhood, inevitably there is a highway widening project and as a consequence more trees had been cut down.

The flowing day I ate one of the three pineapples from the garden. unless you have eaten an organically grown one ripened on the plant you couldn’t imagine. Usually pineapple is  a pretty acidic fruit; this one wasn’t enormous like they are in the store but it was enough to fill me up with the sweetest, juiciest and most rewarding thing I may have ever harvested from my garden. Those things have taken so long I planted them about two years ago from teh tops of pineapples I was given.

Then I  emptied out the lifeless pots of polvorous soil into the few surviving citrus, mulberry and blueberry plants and tried to figure out how… instead of building a house in a tree imagine it the other way around. Now I have to get the house part separated from the tree without damaging it or the house in the easiest way possible; my Starfruit tree survived this winter and is not going berserk and needs room to grow.

I had to yield to the heat and get ready to go meet Luisana for lunch out by the university at one of my favorite cheap restaurants; Byblos, a pita place. We caught up and then I headed next door for another of my favorite treats; Boba. Boba is hot or frozen coffee or fruity flavored drink with little balls of chewy tapioca like things in it.

Afterwards I was on my way home, not far from my Aunt and Uncle’s house so I dropped my there. And they suggested I go past my Cousin and her husband’s house since he was having band practice.

Today I decided to try something; google maps says my grocery store in Segovia was 2.7 km away from where I lived,  a 35 minute walk. although it was humid it wasn’t that hot yet so I strapped on my backpack and headed out to see how it was going for groceries on foot here in Brandon. The route is actually shorter here, 1.9 km (1.2 miles) a 25 minute walk.

From my Local tourist’s eyes here is what has stood out so far: (sorry for the seemingly pointed attacks using “you” although if you do these things consider an alternative for my sanity and everyone elses.

  • Is it not slightly weird that people advertise their family members with those little stick figure people and animals stickers on the back of your vehicles.
  • I didn’t hit anybody parts against any walls in the shower, a welcomed relief after using showers about 2’x2′.
  • WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE? I see cars and I know people are in them but sidewalks and streets are desolate besides the wayward  walker or cyclist.
  • The space between. its so far from one shop to the next, one house to the next. The blacktop, parking lots, auxiliary streets.
  • Oh, The choices. Publix (the supermarket) was my weekend outing in the past, it was fun, now I wonder why do they have so many rows of the same product. It’s as if I am browsing and say no I don’t want noodle soup, then there is another can of the same exact soup and again I say no and over and over for about 8 times seeing the identical product and finally just cave and say ALRIGHT! I will get a can of soup. These stores are huge just for the sake of redundant shelving [of 90% corn based garbage]. Put one row of a product and when it runs out put some more. It was probably a longer distance walking through the store than actually getting there. Despite this criticism I am happy to have some of these things I havn’t eaten in so long like my cereal and blazing buffalo chicken lunch meat.
  • Bagging groceries for the customer, this has actually been one thing I hated even before going to Spain. There, although you feel anxiety, hurried to bag your groceries before the cashier asks for payment, I hate more when baggers treat produce like rocks, just throwing them around, when they put packs of meat with fruit that i will eat raw, puts bread or chips/crackers under heavy things, I had THREE people bagging my groceries today and as a consequence my backpack was loaded unevenly and made for an uncomfortable hike home. Really it’s OK, take a break and I will bag my own groceries. I feel weird standing there uselessly watching you pack my groceries.
  • Not paying for grocery bags, in Spain and in some places in the US now you have to pay if you want a bag; not a huge price but maybe 10 cents.
  • Zebra crossings also know as Cross walks, I think there was one in the whole trip. cars dominate, you better watch out and assume you are going to be hit.
  • Driving. It wasnt strange getting back behind the wheel at all. Like a good American I like driving the (not-so-)open road, wind diesel fumes in my hair, Waiting at red-lights. Throwing up my hands at drivers who fail to peel out like a street racer when a light changes to green. Why am I in a hurry all of the sudden? I have no where to be and nothing specific to do. And GET OUT OF THE FAST LANE if I am driving faster than you in the slow lane
  • Thunder bolts and lightening. Where I was living it barely rains so a huge thunderstorm never occurred. I heard thunder once in Spain although in Japan it was a little more Rumbly.
  • Bare horizon. if you have ever lived or visited a mountainous place you know how different the horizon looks.
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