17 Hours on a Train to Miami after 12 Hours With No Home Base in Hamlet, NC

Nov. 19 & 20, 2021

On Friday, we wrapped up the weeklong Act!vated Story Theatre residency at the school in Cheraw SC, culminating in a performance by each of the 6 classes we taught. After school, the principal was kind enough to give us a ride back to Hamlet NC, to the same Airbnb we stayed at last week. Otherwise, we might have been hitchhiking with our bags. There just ain’t no other way to get around in these parts. We checked in early enough this time to settle in and relax and enjoy the place. And start our inevitable postmortem on the residency, analyzing and trying to figure out what we might improve next time around.

Checking out of the Airbnb on Saturday morning, we then had 12 hours of spinning our wheels in Hamlet. And there’s just not much there there to spin your wheels in. (Except for a rather quaint, but small, historic Main Street, which looked deserted.)

Ready to explore Hamlet …. at a turtle’s pace

Meandering along in no hurry to get anywhere, we stumbled upon the library, knowing it would be closed. But we spied a gazebo, unearthed an outlet to plug in our computers, found the password for the WiFi posted on the door, and burrowed in for a while. All we were missing was a bathroom. After a couple of hours we donned our backpacks and impersonated turtles, hiking with our homes on our backs a mile to use the restroom at a fast food restaurant — and then on to a supermarket to scare up something for dinner and stock up for the trip.

Then it was back to the library to wait it out for about 8 more hours. But it started getting quite chilly, despite our best efforts to keep moving. Scouting around the neighborhood, we found that one of the few businesses open was a restaurant about a block away from the train station. It was a Southern cookin’ establishment, which means that eating there might be taking your life in your hands; but they at least had a vegetarian plate on the menu, so we figured we’d brave the cold until 7:00, then dally at the restaurant until it closed at 9:00, after which we’d have only a couple of more hours to wait in the cold.

But alas, when we went to the restaurant, we discovered that it was offering takeout only at the present time. So we scratched that idea, and just went to wait outside the station, prepared to shiver the night away.

We love libraries, even when though they aren’t always open. Our home for most of the day in Hamlet, NC

Before long, however, an attendant came to the station to attend to something, and we asked him if we could wait inside. (We had read that the waiting room normally opens half an hour before train departure.) He agreed, and we spent the next 3 hours much warmer than we would have otherwise.

And to our relief, the train was on time, so we plopped into our seats to make every effort to sleep through the night — and hoped our train wouldn’t hit a car, as it did on the way down from Providence.

Lunch time. Check out our kitchen on the go.

To our dismay, the temperature aboard the train was rather frosty — not as low as outside, but still lower than it should be. So it was rather difficult to sleep. Then the next morning, the air was warmer. It was as if the train staff turned the heat off at night when it was really needed, then on in the daytime when it wasn’t. With that kind of philosophy, we’re lucky the train didn’t run backward.

Anyway, it was a long and uneventful (for better and for worse) chug-a-chug to Miami, where we arrived at about 4:30 in the afternoon on Sunday. From there, we sent for a Lyft, which showed up in just a handful of minutes. Our driver was a young man from Cuba who spoke almost no English. So it gave us a chance to put our sorely limited Spanish skills to the test. We didn’t exactly pass with flying colors.

Our Airbnb was a very homelike home. We had a clean, comfortable, well-furnished room, complete with a mini fridge — not to mention an antique sewing machine. Our host, Hilary, was very gracious and congenial. She invited us to make use of the washer and dryer, and any of the items in the kitchen cupboard. She even had a pair of little dogs who were very welcoming. Even though dogs and Dennis generally don’t get along very well, one of them came in and, without even the initial barking salute, immediately jumped into his lap. It was a good omen that we were indeed home for a couple of nights.

How we spent our last full day in the US

The Quest?

To volunteer our services in communities all over the world: teaching kids English, performance arts and other forms of cultural enrichment, drawing on our three decades of experience teaching and performing for kids as Act!vated Story Theatre all over the U.S. With your help, we will be able to reach remote locations and engage children in under-served communities worldwide — and to expand our creative online content. You can support our efforts on Patreon or make a contribution via PayPal if your are so inclined.

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