We hit the layover jackpot.
Back in June, when we booked our flight from Peru to Nicaragua, there were few options. It seems that Lima to Managua simply isn’t a popular route, and the only way to do it without taking a dizzying number of flights through South and Central America, was to fly back through the US. The only layover option was 22 hours.
The itinerary looked absurd – fly 6 hours north to Miami, wait 22 hours, then fly 2.5 hours back south to Nicaragua. But it was what we had to work with. We figured we could just cab to a hotel and hole up for an evening, or maybe find a friend of a friend in Miami who’d want a dinner companion. What else were we going to do? So we booked it.
Fast forward to about a month ago, when, as a stab in the dark, I put a post on Facebook explaining our upcoming layover. Would anyone out there in my friend circle happen to know someone interested in hanging with two travelers mid-jaunt?
The answer was a surprising yes.
Katie and Ryan, whose wedding I photographed in 2007, moved from St. Louis to Ft. Lauderdale in 2009. I had photographed their family before they moved, and kept in touch now and again via Facebook. Of course I’d completely forgotten that they were anywhere near Miami (or was too ignorant of Florida geography to realize Ft. Lauderdale and Miami were so close – I won’t admit which.) I was pleasantly surprised when Katie commented that she could offer some help.
Then I was floored when instead of recommending good places to stay and eat, she and her husband offered to pick us up at the airport, have dinner with us, let us stay at their house for the night, and do a load of laundry while we were at it.
How awesome are people?
Katie and Ryan delivered precisely on that offer, and then some. They swooped us up from International Arrivals like experts, with bottled water waiting for us in the car and everything. I mentioned while we were driving that I missed chocolate chip cookies (they are impossible to find outside the US), and when we arrived at their house Ryan immediately got to work baking up a tube of Nestle Tollhouse. They even happened to have Breckenridge Brewery beer on hand, and a friendly cat that I could pet and play with. It’s like they anticipated our every need. We spent hours chatting with these guys over Mexican food and ridiculous YouTube videos, and slept like babies in their guest room.
To top it off, Greg, a friend of John’s from childhood who recently moved from Wisconsin to Florida, decided to come see us during our layover. The next morning he drove nearly three hours down to Ft. Lauderdale, carted us to the FedEx Store for a quick errand, to a restaurant for lunch, and back to the airport in time to catch our connecting flight.
Seriously, how awesome are people?
We could not be more grateful. Somehow, our 22 hour layover ended up feeling more like an intended visit to see old friends than a way to bide time from Point A to Point B. We had a fabulously good time hanging out with Katie and Ryan (especially when they introduced us to this video, which John has been laughing about ever since.) I only wish I had been there a touch longer to photograph them just in time for their 5 year anniversary – they are a joy to photograph because Ryan will do anything to make Katie laugh, and Katie always delivers.
And although he claimed it was just a good excuse for him to explore a little more of Florida, I am thankful that Greg was kind enough to drive the majority of his day, in the rainy weather, to come see us. The airport was 30 minutes out of his way, and I appreciate the additional effort he went to in order to get us there.
The small tokens of appreciation we brought from Peru were hardly enough to stress how thankful we feel to have been so thoroughly handled in Florida. It may not seem like much to the three of you, but it meant a lot to us. We will gladly pay these favors forward when we are back living in Denver, and hope that someday Katie, Ryan or Greg have the chance to be on the receiving end of our hospitality.
Now, after that nice 22 hour power-up in the US, we’re in Granada, Nicaragua. We haven’t decided yet where we are going to set up shop for a month yet, given that it’s rainy season and we haven’t figured out what the weather is going to be like. More to come after we’ve had a little time to explore.