Today Saharan sand is blowing in from Africa. I know this because the weatherman gave the forecast last night. He said winds aloft would carry that sand all the way over here. Guess we could use some more since our beaches are eroding. The sky is hazy and it's warm, reaching 95 degrees today. But we've had some beautiful weather for the last week or so. Hot and windy, much like the Sahara.
I moved to South Florida for the tropical moisture, the rains that come in every afternoon as they did in Panama when I was a child. That moisture builds up over the Everglades and the clouds carry it eastward toward the ocean. Once a day until November we get drenched. Then things taper off. November is cooler and sunnier. Ideal for the plants and our skin, the humidity in the air functions like a natural moisturizer so we all look younger and healthier, unless we go out in the sun and end up looking like cowhide.
At the age of 13 I few to Panama with a stopover in Miami. It was arranged that I stay with friends of my parents. George, the father, was, like my stepdad, also in the airline industry and his wife was away visiting relatives in Lebanon. George picked me up from the airport.
"Jeanie, be careful because I have two boys. I'm worried about you."
I wasn't exactly sure what he meant but ventured a guess.
"Oh I'm sure they'll be gentleman."
"No, no, it's not them I'm concerned about. It's you."
I laughed. I was only thirteen. I was to learn later, that both boys had a crush on me. Recently, one of the boys, Jeff, called me fifty years after our brief acquaintance. A mutual friend had given him my number.
I told him how fondly I remembered his Dad and my visit. How well I remembered going to a yacht club for dinner and walking out onto the dock to look at the boats. Jeff was a few years older than me.
During the three day visit waiting for my connection to Panama, Jeff and I became friends and our walks in the rain changed me. The daily deluge, the realization that someone thought I was pretty, the sensuous layers that puberty brought to the table, the humidity and my first lipstick, Revlon's Persion Melon all captured my heightened senses. Jeff told me on the phone I was the first girl he had ever kissed.
But Panama was the icing on the cake. Luscious lagoons, mountains and the fragrance of mango trees did me in. Soon, my time in Panama was up and I was to move back to live with my father. But I wasn't going to be satisfied until I got back to the tropics. Twelve years later, I flew to Miami for training at the Pan Am training school on 36th Street in Miami Springs, the building and grounds known as the Taj Mahal. After one short year based out of Dulles airport, I was flying out of Miami to South and Central America and the Caribbean. That would last two years. Eight years later, I would come back to South Florida.
I would leave one more time from 1992 until 2005 when I came back for the last time like exiled royalty feeling the same homecoming I always felt. Best of all, the man I fell in love with while flying to Panama, found me again in 2006 and rekindled what I had always known.
To be continued.........