‘Murder in Miami’ - I read the secret to selling newspapers is an attention grabbing headline; hopefully fact not fiction.
During my travels I also read of a series of murders which occurred in Florida in the early 1990s. In fact while travelling through the western states I read of a murder which occurred near Miami. The victims were tourists who had become lost, left the main freeway and were later found mutilated beyond recognition.
Upon reading this I considered giving Florida a wide berth. It was down the end of the country and, excluding Cuba, was not a thoroughfare to or from anywhere. As such it could easily be avoided beyond satisfying the curiosity factor of seeing the region for oneself.
But then, while travelling through the southern states, I started talking to my friend at the New Orleans hostel. Besides been up to speed on the subject of the social effects of incest within the state of Louisiana he was equally knowledgeable about the subject of avoiding been murdered in Miami.
I wonder what social circles he hung around with.
Does he get invited to many dinner parties?
In any case, in my circumstances, it was all valuable information.
He told me there was a special procedure which needed to be followed for safely getting into Miami. The last train stop was some way out of town at an isolated train station. From here it was necessary to catch a bus from the station to the tourist beach district where I should find my lodgings.
It was at the isolated station that problems could occur. I should therefore make sure I caught the correct bus and did not wander off or catch a lift with any strangers.
What were the chances of me accepting the offer of a lift from some person whom I have just met? I knew how dangerous the United States could be. Had I not recently read a newspaper article about murders in Miami? Give me some credit. I must look dumb if you think I would do something stupid like that.
In fact I was starting to smarten up.
Since I was travelling all the way down the eastern coast of the United States I thought I better check there was actually some spare affordable accommodation in Miami. The last thing I would want is for all the cheap lodgings to be filled and have to turn straight around, back up the east coast.
But that can wait.
And the phone call to a hostel kept waiting and waiting until I reasoned the cost of the call should be cheapest from the Miami train station. The phone was answered in Spanish.
“Hello. Do you have any vacancies?” I queried.
If she didn’t answer in the affirmative she was going to learn a new language, called French, filled with expletives.
I couldn’t quite understand her reply but it sounded positive and after three nights sleeping on the train that was good enough for me. I was off to Miami Beach.
My time spent there was filled with a couple of idyllic, sun soaked days at the beach where I enjoyed my first ever dip in warm surf. That may seem strange considering my home town was situated next to the sea but that same sea is not too far above the Antarctic.
What was strange was an Irish guy at the hostel who looked like he had never experienced the effects of the sun before. Burnt red, his skin colour was art deco like the surrounding architecture on Miami Beach.
Having fair skin myself he had my full sympathy.
In the dead of night, when the temperature cooled down, I knew he would experience the murderous, tingling feeling of his burnt skin reaching his spine.
I bet at that time he wished he had met my friend at the New Orleans hostel to forewarn him on that.