Day 839 of Traveling the World, Doral, Florida. May 20, 2020.

Miami-Dade County, where we are riding out the pandemic, has about half of all of Florida’s Covid-19 deaths, so nonessential businesses have been closed until today. That means that Dolphin Mall, across the street from our hotel, opened today with limited hours. We have been waiting for its opening, not to shop, but so that we can take our daily walk in air conditioning. The temperatures have been slowly rising, and while early morning is “cooler” than late morning or early afternoon (feels like 85 degrees F rather than 93), it is still very hard to feel refreshed rather than depleted.

So, the mall it was! We don’t know what your experience has been with retail openings, but we will describe ours. As you can see in the first three photos, there are instructions and reminders as you walk through the mall to stay six feet away from others, wear a mask, and always walk “one way” to the right so that you aren’t meeting people head-on. The mall wasn’t very crowded, but all of these “recommendations” were ignored at various points. People weren’t all masked (but employees were), they walked on the wrong side, and they walked close to us, even as we swerved to avoid close contact. We entered two different shoe stores to browse, and every aisle was marked with one-way arrows in different directions. If you touched shoes, you were to place them on the floor to be sanitized. To try on shoes, you had to take them to the front, try them, and leave them there to be disinfected. Ditto for dressing rooms in stores: you must hand the clothing over to be sanitized before the items are returned to the racks.

In the fourth photo is one of many workers constantly cleaning and sanitizing anything that can be touched. Benches are covered in plastic so that no one can sit and rest…too many hands would touch the bench. About one-quarter of the stores were open, and of the kiosks filling the middle of almost every branch of the mall, about half were open, as you can see in the photos. A news crew was doing a report in one area. The food court was almost all open, but there were very few takers, and you can see how the tables were spread out to be six feet apart. Can you see the sayings along the ceiling in the food court? Most were in Spanish, but the first one says, “Merriment is a full stomach.”

Interestingly, all of the perfume stores in the mall were open, and there were a lot of them, given the size of the mall. Surprisingly, some were trying to hand out individual sample packets, but nobody was taking them during a pandemic. You just don’t accept something from one hand to another. Only the automatic entrance doors were open and working, not the ones you push. There is an attempt to avoid contact in all dealings, with even cash being frowned on. So, do you want a sample? No takers!

The next-to-last last photo was simply sentimental for Jan…a store called Alma, Guardian Angel. Her favorite aunt, who lived next door and was truly was her second mom, was named Alma. She called her Alm, and if anyone acts as a guardian angel, it is Alm. She has been gone for over 15 years, but lives on in so many fun stories and memories.

And the top of the last photo shows the parking lot on March 20 of this year, with the bottom being the same general area today. Many more vehicles! We walked around the outside of this mall for six weeks, and then they told us it was no longer permitted, but wouldn’t tell us why. We suspect someone tried to break in, and thus it was ruined for us. They directed us to the outer ring road to walk, which would have been fine early on, but by the time we were banished from their sidewalk around the mall, there were food giveaways, and the road was quite busy with traffic. We spent one walk just dodging traffic, so that was our last visit to the mall until today.