I flew to Florida late last night for pre-field orientation at New Tribes Mission headquarters in Sanford, Florida. This morning, after finishing breakfast, I had two missions: to take a nice walk along the river, and to buy some postcards to send my siblings.
The first was easy. There is a cool river walk right next to where I am staying, so I wandered off in the rain after breakfast to stretch my legs. Yes, the rain. Oddly enough, the “sunshine state” happens to be the only place you can actually get rained on in the United States right now. But, since rain has been so scarce in Indiana, it was refreshing to mosey along through the sprinkles, and I eventually found myself back at my room, soaked and tired from walking almost three miles.
I spent some time drying off and organizing myself for the week ahead before setting off on my mission to find postcards. After meandering through downtown historic Sanford on my first walk, I thought it would be simple to find a postcard in one of the many little artsy shops. Not true. While I failed to find a postcard, I did find the neatest bookstore ever. Tucked away in an old corner building, two stories and three rooms were filled floor to ceiling with piles, shelves, and more piles of old and used books. If only I weren’t broke and weren’t flying home… 😉 Leaving the bookstore behind, I poked through some art galleries and antique stores, peered in a cool-looking pub, and left downtown Sanford behind me in my quest for a Florida postcard. I envisioned palm trees and sunshine amidst the downpour that made my walk seem more like a swim. At a gas station, I picked up a snack and inquired where I might find postcards, never expecting to hear about the cashier’s daughter’s school project requiring postcards and an equally daunting search to find them. Walgreens. My next destination. Though the enthusiastic clerk had found postcards there for her daughter, they no longer sold any, but, the manager assured me, Wal-Mart was sure to have them. It was “just down the road” so I ventured back into the deluge outside after requesting a small plastic bag to protect my already-wet cellphone from the rain. Apparently, the Wal-Mart was a little more than “just down the road” as I splashed through puddle after puddle in my postcard quest. When I arrived, I discovered that Wal-Mart does not sell postcards, that I had been walking for over two hours and had less than an hour and a half to return to the New Tribes headquarters, and that the rather lame and not-sunny-Florida greeting cards would have to work.
In order to get back to headquarters in time, I befriended several homeless people who were as wet as myself, then navigated my way home via the public transportation service. Having never ridden a public bus before, it was an adventure in and of itself, but effectively delivered me within five blocks of my starting point, where the rain had finally expired, leaving clouds and stale puddles to escort me back to my room at the New Tribes Guesthouse.
And all in my first day in Florida! I can’t wait to see what the next nine days have in store!