On my way back to the campsite I was searching for a shop to buy some greeting cards to send home. When I entered the first gift shop I came across, my first impression was  

   ´deserted´ and no trace of greeting cards.

   I turned to exit the shop when she came out of the blue. A very tall, slender girl of my age was standing between me and my way-out. She welcomed me like I was the first customer since days. The girl was probably bored and I was the distraction she desperately needed. With anxious eyes and a pleasurable voice she asked

   ´Can I help you Sir?´

   When I told her I only needed some greeting cards she lectured me, with a wink,

   ´Selecting a greeting card is not as simple as you picture it, sir. A badly chosen card can have disastrous consequences. Which type of card depends on the three r’s; relation with, reason why and reference of. You certainly need some competent advice.´

   The next moment she escorted me to the right end corner of the shop were all cards were displayed. She told me that before she could give me a good advice she had to ask a lot of personal questions.

   She! She!  She!  She!, yes you’re right there was no way to escape from her attention and to be honest, I had no problem with it. No,

   I liked it!

   Her name was Karin and she started her “interrogation” with asking if the card was for a loved one. I tried to put the importance of the card in perspective by saying that it just was a greeting card for my parents but she gave me a corrective look.

   ´Are you for a few days holiday in Fort Lauderdale or for a longer period´ was her next question.

   I told her I just started a cycling trip across America with as goal the west coast. The intention of the card was to give “home” a sign of life.

   I saw her thinking, East, West.

   ´You’re kidding me or you are trying to impress me´, she answered. To convince her I produced a map of America out of my pocket with the route of my trip all the way to San Diego and I showed her a picture of me and Coco. Because no other customers were entering the store we talked for hours.

   Karin came from the North, having a job here during the winter months to escape from the strong winter up there. Her parents came from Germany.

   It was already ten o’clock when she told me it was closing-time. She asked me to wait outside so we could have a drink in a pub a few hundred meters from here. It was a nice cosy pub where you could sit with a certain amount of privacy. It was overwhelmingly pleasant to talk and to be with her and in a subtle way she was flirting with me.

   During the evening she became more open about herself and told me she was disappointed about her work and about the people in Fort Lauderdale.

   ´It seems impossible to get in contact with young people of my age here in Fort Lauderdale´, she told me.

  ´Next week I’ll decide whether I’ll stay here or go back to my hometown in the North.´

…after a deep sigh she whispered

   ´I know that back home it is cold outside but at least the people are warm inside´.

   There were a number of moments like this, during the evening, the expression on her face suddenly changed from soft and friendly to hard, cold, angry and discontented but within seconds she had grip on herself again. It slipped my mind that those temper changes were probably the real reason that people kept at arm’s length from her.

   Me, myself became a little uncomfortable, cautious and alert. Was she a ticking time bomb? Probably not but that overwhelming feeling from early that evening was gone!

   Around midnight we left the pub and she asked me to escort her to her home. It was only a 10 minutes walk and in front of her apartment she invited me in a very tempted way to stay with her for the night.


   During our walk to her apartment my inner-me told me to say goodbye as soon as possible but I am not particularly proud of the way how I twisted the truth into a cheap excuse.

   It was not acting when I looked sad and serious at Karin. I explained to her that I had been raised in a warm loving Christian family with God and the Bible as our guides in life. I told her that, in spite of what my body wanted me to do, the Bible told me to say goodnight.

Yes I know, bullshit, but the best excuse I could come up with.

  After a few very unpleasant minutes I was on my way to the campsite. Relieved but with a mind full of guilt I entered my tent. A few minutes later I went to the bathroom and took a long shower to wash all the guilt away. Those last minutes in front of her apartment ensured me I escaped from some serious problems.

   I had a fairly good night but in spite of the spray the mosquitoes still used one of my feet as supply point for their needs.


Dear Note,

My forehead is already getting to look like a tomato so I urgently need to buy a hat or cap to protect it. My goal for today is Holiday Inn Traveller Park in West Palm Beach. I will close you now and prepare myself for my second cycling day.