Cultures always clash at some level. I will tell you today about my first trip to the USA. Some people find this story funny, some do not.

In 2001 I got engaged to my husband. Completing the paperwork to marry a foreigner is really hard in Uzbekistan, so we decided to do it in the US. I had a Pakistani-American friend who was coming to the US for her wedding. I came with her. At that time my future husband was already in the US completing some coursework at the University.

Sooooooooo…. My adventure started at the airport in Tashkent. The friend I was traveling to the US with had a dog with her. Of course they put the dog in baggage compartment. Somehow the dog escaped from the plane before the flight. So there I was sitting on the plane so happy to be on my first trip to USA and then flight attendants come and say, “Sorry, you are not flying today. Your friend’s dog escaped, we can’t find the dog. We have to take you and your friend from the plane.” HUH!? Just great!!!

So my friend and I got off plane. She started looking for her dog on the HUUUGE airport runway. The airport crew also joined the search for the dog. All of this for A DOG! Finally about 45 minutes later, they found the dog. They put us to back on the plane again, but this time the pilot said put the dog in the Cabin to make sure it does not escape again.

So it was a very long flight from Tashkent-Istanbul-New York to Miami, Florida. A very long trip. I was exhausted.
At the airport my friend’s mom was waiting for us. As I came out from the air-conditioned airport I was hit by the heat and humidity outside. I said to myself, well maybe it’s only like this today. Oh boy, I was so wrong. The next morning I woke up for fajr and I went outside. Guess what, still hot and humid, I asked “Is it always like this?” She said: “YUP 🙂 Welcome to Florida.”

My friend’s Mom is from Canada and her dad was from Pakistan. And she grew up in the USA. She was a typical American girl. And they had 3 dogs in their house. In the house. Oh boy, oh boy. It was really hard for me to find a clean space to pray.

The next day after breakfast her mom decided to take me to the beach. They asked me. “Have you ever seen ocean before? No? Great! We will show you the ocean. OK?”

So we are driving on the streets of Miami, a few blocks away from ocean, we stopped at the stoplight and guess what, people were coming from the beach. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Women in just a 2 piece bikini, men in speedos. For me… they were basically naked. I never saw men and women so naked in my life! And there it is right in the street. They are walking as if nothing is the matter. I said “I have had enough of this: I changed my mind I don’t want to go to see ocean.” And I was thinking “if this is road to go to beach, I have no idea what I will see when I actually get there. No thank you, I am not going to the beach.” Of course my friend’s mom thought that was very rude. But I couldn’t handle this anymore. We came home and I called my husband and started yelling to him “where did you bring me? I don’t want to be here if this is your America. I don’t want to live here! People are naked! There are 3 dogs in the house! I can’t pray!” It was shocking.
He tried to calm me: “No, it’s Florida. It’s a tourist destination,” etc., etc., etc. “Not all cities are like that.”

So that was my 1st trip to USA. Since then, I’ve still never seen the ocean or went to see ocean in the United States.

Now living here, I have seen lots of shocking things, but I never forget my first trip to Florida. That’s my story about Miami Beach, Florida. Something that will stick in my mind for as long as I live!

Mamura Azizova