Leaving the Country Tampa, Florida, USA
Tuesday December 17, 2002
5:30 am was very, very early. I took a cab the seven miles to the Clearwater - Tampa bus stop. The fare? $15. AAH! Then $4 for the buses all the way to the port. Why is it we don't use public transit in the US?
Mark Wilson came by Tiffani's last night. He'd been the weekend anchor in Raleigh when I was there. It was great to see him. I'd last seen him in like 1996 just before I left WNCN in Raleigh. He was doing very well... still anchoring for WTVT, the Fox-owned station in Tampa. The three of us talked for a few hours about our bizarre experiences in Raleigh. We were a little too green at the time to fully get it, but WNCN was one very weird place to work then. Maybe it still is.
"Either trying to sell me insurance or bring me to Jesus." It's funny how everybody gets so wide-eyed when I tell them I'm doing this trip alone. I've never done this before, but from everything I'm told it's like what I experienced on the Appalachian Trail. There are usually so many people doing the same thing - also by themselves - that you almost have to try to have any time alone. To illustrate: I'm sitting in the waiting area at the port for no more than five minutes. This guy comes up to me and says "where ya going?" Being the skeptic I am, I immediately assume he's either trying to sell me insurance or bring me to Jesus. Turns out he's a 50-something guy who lives in Cozumel and travels independently a lot through Mexico and Central America. We talked for 20 minutes or so about everywhere he's been and how skiing in Iowa is better than you'd expect. He gave me some advice on catching the bus from the port in Mexico. He's doing the same thing, only heading south.
By the way, the television industry seems to be conspiring to keep in from leaving. As we passengers sit in the waiting area, news crews from various Tampa stations are going on and off the boat. I guess it's media day or something. We're definitely gonna be late leaving port. Why does television haunt me so?