We know that everyone in the world….think about that a minute, in the world….has seen and could publish photos like this of their own locations. It is eerily silent, outside. It is eerily empty, outside. It is all eerie, period.
We are in a Homewood Suites by Hilton, with a kitchenette. The day after we arrived back from Barcelona, we took Ubers to and from Walmart to buy food so that we could self-quarantine and hunker down. We bought almost $400 of provisions, both because we didn’t want to pay Uber $20+ every few days to buy groceries, and because at that point we didn’t know if items would be restocked regularly and be readily available. One of our Uber drivers told us that his business is suffering, as he normally clears about $150 a day, but recently it has been $50-60. On a normal day, we would have been his eighth or tenth fare, but at 11 am, we were only his second. Until two days ago, the fitness facility in the gym was open, a buffet breakfast was available each morning, and three nights a week (served four nights prior to COVID-19) there was an evening happy hour with drinks, snacks, and light dinner entrees. Then it changed, as the front desk told us that law enforcement officials stopped by. They closed the gym and mandated that no food could be self-serve, but had to be distributed in takeout boxes and consumed in our suites. The first three photos are from the hotel…nothing sadder than a room with buffet facilities that cannot be used. The open door in the first photo is where we go to ask for breakfast, served by gloved workers. The third photo is something we hadn’t seen after essentially living in hotels for two years…an area of refuge for handicapped people. We followed the signs, and they lead away from the elevators, to the stairwell…a gathering place where they would be helped in an emergency. There is also an emergency phone there. Interesting.
Across the street from our hotel is Dolphin Mall, so that is where we headed for today’s walk. You can see in the photos all the empty streets and parking lots. We were the only people out, other than a few security guards and one Cheesecake Factory worker who told us that they still serve takeout in the afternoons (yay, Cheesecake Factory!). We were able to cross streets wherever we wanted, as there were zero vehicles, and we could even walk on the streets themselves. When we booked this hotel while still in Spain, we thought it would be good to be at a mall so that we could walk inside for exercise if it was too hot outside. It has been 80-85 degrees F every day, but as you can see in the photos, the mall was closed, of course. We grinned when we read the sign in the Ralph Lauren store (Photo 9) that starts, “In the current context, our purpose of inspiring the dream of a better life takes on new meaning.” Their last sentence includes, “our hope is to continue to be the beacon of optimism and unity…” It sounds like a message from a nonprofit that helps people and does some good in the world, like Doctors Without Borders, but no, it is just an upscale retailer.
We have heard that Miami-Dade County was closing all hotels so that there would be none available for spring breakers or people wanting a self-quarantining vacation on the beach. Since we live in hotels, that caught our attention. Our front desk staff told us that occupancy was 55 percent when we arrived, went down to 30 percent, and is up a little today. They are being told that this hotel will remain open, as it is in the suburb of Doral and provides temporary lodging for hospital and airline personnel. If it should close, we are hoping that we can rent a furnished apartment for a while. We are very resilient, so we will figure out something, no matter the circumstances.
We have saved the best for last, as usual. Look at the last two photos. Did you know (we didn’t!) that there were vending machines for live bait??? We came across this outside a Bass Pro Shop, a retailer that carries items for the great outdoors. Check it out…you can buy a dozen nightcrawlers for $4 or 3-4 shiners for $3! So if you are self-quarantining on a boat off the coast and doing some lazy fishing, you can restock your bait in Doral, Florida!!