Upon landing in Miami, I got on my new phone to check in with my ride, which I had arranged via rideshare on Craigslist. I needed to get across the peninsula to Naples, where my sister-in-law Jurate lives. We left our car there while we traveled South America, so this would be the last rideshare I would need for a while.
Except that the first message I saw was from the person with whom I was supposed to catch a lift, letting me know that he had already left. This was most disconcerting. It was almost nine o’clock at night, and finding another ride this late was going to be a challenge, I thought.
But then I read my next message. Jurate had written me, saying that she had a friend who was going driving to Miami that night to pick up a new car, and that he might be able to give me a ride. A smile broke across my face, as I remembered that I need not worry. For whatever reason, I am pretty well taken care of. That which I need tends to be provided.
I got in touch with Jurate, who gave me her friend Mark’s number. She also told me that she had some Lithuanian friends visiting from out of town, and that Mark was taking them out on his new boat the next day. “Do you want to come?” she asked.
“Why, yes. Yes I do.”
“Perfect,” she said. “You can stay on the couch tonight, and then Daiva and Vidas will be leaving tomorrow, so you can have the room after that.”
“Awesome. Thanks.” Jurate just moved to Naples from Chicago last fall. We stayed with her there at Christmas time, and she was generous enough to offer me lodging for a bit while I got myself ready for the East Coast Tour.
When Mark picked me up, he was driving a Porsche Panamera. He was very friendly, and we had a great conversation during the drive. It takes a couple of hours to get from Miami to Naples, but the time flew by, so immersed were we in our discussion. That car could really go too. He could jump from forty five to ninety in about two seconds, which he did occasionally just to let his new baby stretch her legs.
Mark dropped me off at Jurate’s, declining to come in and hang ou, since we would be seeing each other again the next day. It was already one in the morning and he had to drive another forty five minutes to get back to his house in Cape Coral.
It was great to see Jurate again, and I also got to meet her friend Daiva. We all went to bed promptly though, with a big day ahead of us the next day. Mark planned to take us on a long boat ride through the bay and out to the gulf, where he knew of some secluded white sand beaches. I grew up boating, so it sounded like great fun to me.
And indeed it was! We drove out to Mark’s house in the morning, which was beautiful. It probably goes without saying that Mark has plenty of money. His house was gorgeous, and his boat was also brand new. At least for him. Not sure what year it was, but it was not old, and it man, was it nice. Three 350 horsepower engines, 35 feet long, with a nice cabin below decks, including a mini-kitchen and a head, which is nautical talk for a bathroom.
Jurate’s friend Skydra also came along, and after we got everything loaded onto the boat, we struck out for the open water. We stopped for lunch at a small island with a really nice waterside restaurant, and then we headed out to the barrier island beach, which was long and skinny, separating the bay from the Gulf of Mexico. This was all pretty far away from Mark’s house (which had a dock right in the backyard), but his boat could go nearly sixty miles per hour, so it didn’t take very long to get out there.
What a great day it was! We swam in the ocean, and crossed the island to walk out into the shallow water of the bay side. We anchored the boat not too far from shore, which meant we had to swim in and out from the boat. It was easy getting in, so I took my camera along for some pictures. But when the wind shifted and the boat swung around on the anchor, the props started hitting the sandy bottom, prompting Mark to move the boat a bit further out. This made the swim back out, holding my camera over my head with one hand, and with a headwind at that, a bit harder. I made it though.
The girls all went for a walk on the beach, and when they were swimming back towards the boat, I heard Jurate call for help. I looked, and she seemed to be okay, but then she called again, so I ran across the boat and dove in after her. I eventually learned that she had caught a wave in the face and was choking, barely able to breath. She flipped onto her back and I grabbed hold of her shoulders, lifting her as best I could without any flotation devices. I utilized the three-limbed swim that I’ve learned from swimming with Lila (my four year old daughter who doesn’t yet swim) and guided Jurate back to the boat. It was exhausting, and a bit scary, but we made it.
That evening we went back to Mark’s, where we grilled some really delicious food and soaked in the hot tub. We ate sitting around a gas fire built into a patio table, which made for a really nice atmosphere. Mark is such a nice guy, with absolutely no pretense or attitude about his wealth. He just likes to share in the abundance, and he was a great host. The meal was delicious, if I do say so myself. (Mark and I did all the cooking.)
It was nearly eleven by the time we finally left. I gave Mark a copy of Portlyn, that being the least I could do after all he had done for us. Daiva and Skydra also bought copies of my book, which was really cool. I had my latest print run shipped to Jurate’s house, but I wasn’t planning on selling any copies until the tour got started, but i sold several to people I met through Jurate.
But before I was to get on the road, more adventure was in store. I can’t go into too much detail, simply because I am now on such a fast paced schedule that I’ve got to really crank out the stories to keep up with all I am doing, and brevity (admittedly, not my forte) is esential.
I spent several more days with Jurate, hanging out in Naples, going to the Everglades with Mark, and meeting a few more of her friends.
It was such a fun time, and a part of me wished I could just stick around and keep meeting people that Jurate has been getting to know since she moved to Naples. When we visited at Christmas time, I wasn’t too impressed with Naples. Too wealthy for my anarcho-primitivist perspective, I concluded. And yet, amongst all that opulence, there are some really cool people, who are totally down to earth, and who totally get the predicament we are in, as a species.
So my apologies for judging. Good people are everywhere, and us vs. them doesn’t really help us to move ahead, even if there is truth to the notion that materialism and consumerism are ultimately unsustainable.
Many thanks to Jurate, to Mark, and to Bill, another friend with whom I made a good connection during my stay in Naples. And many thanks to you, my dear readers, for following along on the adventure, and for going with me in your imaginations to all the far out places that I seem inclined to venture. I am only getting started! As I now write, I am on the third night of the East Coast Tour, and so much has happened in the last few days since I left Naples, that it’s daunting to even contemplate documenting it all. Not that that will stop me, though! So stay tuned, because much more is soon to come!