10 am: In our quest to live like the locals, we breakfasted at the kitchen table in the Brick House, our Airbnb for the night. Kimberly is learning how to survive without her customary breakfast of oatmeal prepared with her own patented recipe. It’s a nice little home we’re staying in, with all the amenities, and we seem to have the place all to ourselves on this occasion.
10:30 am: Realizing with consternation that the ride we thought we’d scheduled with Lyft doesn’t exist. In fact, there are no Lyft drivers in the area. Well, let’s try Uber. We are new to this whole ride-share thing, not having a need to use it much before now. We download the Uber app and request a ride. Nor are there any Uber drivers. Call a taxi? It will be expensive, but beats having to walk 20 miles. Nor are there any taxis. Nor are there any bus lines, but we already knew that having done some research in advance. Not even a mule team pulling a wheelbarrow. Somehow we need to get from Hamlet to Cheraw, but we have no idea how we’re going to do that. The old expression “You can’t get there from here” seems to have originated in these parts. It looks like what’s in Hamlet stays in Hamlet, and que Cheraw, Cheraw.
In desperation, we call the hotel in Cheraw where we’ll be staying, and ask for recommendations. The gentleman we speak to says that there is a service called Ride Cheraw that might be able to help us. We look up Ride Cheraw, and give them a call. Sure enough, they say that they can arrange a ride for us, and we are greatly relieved. We are told to just fill out the web form online, a bit confused by the formality of it all, we do so.
We’ve waited at least 15 minutes for Ride Cheraw to call us back. Getting antsy, we call them again. But this time we get a recording saying that they are closed on weekends — even though we just spoke to someone (the same person whose voice is on the message) a few minutes ago. This is really beginning to feel like The Twilight Zone. A little past the point of desperation (and pushing our check-out time past the limit), we call the principal of the school where we’ll be presenting a residency next week (fortunately we have his cell number) and he says that one of the teachers lives in Hamlet, and she might be able to give us a ride. He calls her, she calls us a few minutes later, and finally, we seem to have a solution. If not, we’ll have to try hitchhiking, a prospect that does not appeal to either of us.
12:30 p.m.: Our ride arrives at the train station, which we’ve walked back to. She’s a delightful and very helpful soul who gives us a ride to Cheraw, and after a brief tour of the town, drops us at our hotel, insists that we should call her if we need anything else, gives us a hug, and leaves.
We check into the hotel, and it looks quite satisfactory in just about every detail. Except for…. well, the cockroach. A ginormous specimen that would do Kafka proud. It’s dead, on its back, right in the middle of the bathroom floor. So the fact that it’s dead is good, and that means the exterminators are doing their job, right? On the other hand, it might mean that housekeeping didn’t do theirs — how could they overlook such a thing? Or did it crawl out there, mortally poisoned, and then expire? Or did someone just leave it there as a practical joke? If so, who could have done it? Did it hike here from Hamlet, unable to get a ride, and then collapse from exhaustion? In any case, it makes us paranoid about dropping even the tiniest crumb while we’re eating.
1:30 pm: An irony to cap off our transportation headaches. Now that we’ve settled into our hotel room, we finally get that call back from Ride Cheraw, telling us that they do have a ride for us.