22.11.2008 - 24.11.2008 22 °C
The next chapter begins here in Orlando, Florida.
I'm amazed at how quickly and unexpectedly this has come about - I've had so little time to reflect on events this past year, let alone anticipate the beginning of upcoming events in 2009. Being in America for the last months of the year will change my outlook of what's to come into something a little more exciting and beautiful.
The 22nd was a long, long day... we went from being treated with a business class flight to being stuck in a state of exhaustion somewhere in the back streets of Orlando's suburbs. We had to haggle with all the various rental car companies until we could get a package that was reasonable - and even still, was far too expensive for my liking. A quote of £580, which then become 700+ was thrown our way as a nonnegotiable tax-inclusive total for the two weeks.
We hesitantly accepted, but were thrown a lifeline to sway our decision (as I think they saw that I had my reserves about the whole deal) which was the agreement that we could bring the car back at any time and only pay for the days we used it. This helped us to plan our travelling a bit better. We pay at the end in any case... Sadly though, we kept the car the entire duration of our holiday and it turned out to cost us more than we initially thought. (Almost cost the same as our return flights!) At least we had a good set of directions to get us from the airport onto the right roads and exits we needed to take to get to Leesburg in good time right? Not so... The haphazard printout was vague and difficult to match with the road signs and we missed the first important exit, which led us way off track.
So, once lost in unfamiliar territory, we proceeded to buy not one but two road maps at different gas stations and more or less work our way towards Leesburg based on directions we were given from different people. Thank God we didn't get the input we were "asking for" from the one person we thought to be local and nonthreatening, as he turned to face us with a scowl hidden behind a red bandana and a hood casting a shadow over his brow!
After three hours of driving for what seemed to be at least double that, with all the U-turns and different interpretations of the directions from the different sources, we slowly but surely found ourselves nearing the golf course complex in Leesburg. We were both more or less falling asleep in the car as we glanced at each road sign coming our way (as we had been doing a lot of throughout the night) and found some familiar landmarks that led us closer and closer still. Then, right on cue, we saw the welcoming signage for "Pennbrooke Fairways". We stopped briefly to greet the security guard an once acquainted had free access in and our for the remainder of the week.
At the house, we had a further welcoming from "Uncle Bill" - a nice man who loves good conversation. I felt a little weary from the flight and drive, so we agreed that I would talk in the morning as it was already 2 or 3am (which actually now seems to be the normal time to get to sleep for me!) There was nothing on my mind other than a good night's sleep. I got out of the work shirt and trousers I was wearing and freshened up before hitting the hay, all in a very prompt fashion, not expecting to be disturbed at all until the morning. Unfortunately for me, I never realised that such chaos would be in store for me that night when Kuni returned a after he'd finished his cigarette and conversation with Bill. Put simply, the snoring, the tremors, the tugging, the mumbling all culminated in a form of relentless harassment. So, more endurance paid off eventually when my eyes closed and my thoughts were put to rest.
The next day we visited a flea market half and hour or away - not something I've done since childhood days in South Africa. It seemed to be a big local event that lots of people regularly attended as a sort of family day out/excursion. The highlight for me was the traditional Southern-style buffet diner, slap bang in the middle of the proceedings, which serves great food (breakfast and lunch) if you're prepared to wait in line to be served. You're treated to some live country music from a resident band - a medley of stringed instruments that gets you into the spirit of the occasion. It was interesting seeing so many products on sale, tradesmen and bootleggers all in full swing. I felt I was sightseeing more than actually participating in any form of commerce or shopping. It was a good experience nonetheless. We finished off the day at a chinese all-you-can-eat.