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Holiday travel in South Florida, keeping your memory sharp, and Las Posadas

People gather their luggage after arriving at Miami International Airport on a plane from New York earlier this month in Miami, Fla.
People gather their luggage after arriving at Miami International Airport on a plane from New York.

Airports in South Florida are already seeing more travelers than they have since the pandemic began. What you need to know before your holiday travel plans. Plus, we hear from a memory champion on how you can keep your mind sharp. And a Latin American Christmas tradition is making a comeback.

On this Thursday, Dec. 16, edition of Sundial:

Holiday travel

What do you need to know before taking that trip for Christmas and the new year?

We spoke with a panel of authorities and officials from Miami International Airport (MIA) about the upcoming holiday season. The airport is already breaking records for travelers.

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Zachary Mann is a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, for the state of Florida.

Major Eric Garcia is with the Miami-Dade Police Department's airport district.

Indira Pardillo is a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department.

Dan Ronan is the Federal Security Director for TSA at MIA.

Below are excerpts from the conversation, which have been edited for length and clarity.

WLRN: Each of you, just a brief piece of advice that you would give us as folks are getting ready for this travel season here. Zachary, I'll start with you. For folks that are either leaving the country or they have family coming in — what is something you tell them they need to be thinking about?

MANN: I would say go to CBP.gov and look up the "Know Before You Go" because there's a lot of rules and regulations that, if you're aware of them, will save you a lot of time and prevent any type of headaches. It's not illegal to take money out of the country, you just have to report it. Understand that certain pharmaceuticals you can buy over-the-counter in a foreign country are not allowed here in the United States. Have your medical records in place. And, if you're traveling with high-value items, have proof-of-purchase so that when you return, you know, you can show that it's your merchandise.

And of course, the most important thing is to be polite, be safe, be courteous. Everyone's trying to get home, you know, to visit their friends and family. And we're all in this together as a community, as a nation. So let's work together.

Definitely, know as much as you can. Major Garcia, what's something that folks should know as they're coming to MIA?

GARCIA: We ask, is that if you're traveling that you pack a little extra patience. And that you be respectful and follow instructions. And that you double-check your carry-on bags to ensure that you are not carrying any type of prohibited items such as firearms. And that to remain alert. If you see something, say something. And more importantly, have an amazing and fantastic holiday.

Indira, what's something you want to tell travelers before these next couple of weeks?

PARDILLO: Please, and this is supremely important, parking spaces are limited. Travelers should consider drop off options such as ride-share service, taxi or Metro Rail's Orange Line directly to MIA, it runs 10 to 15 minutes. And, please, get tested. Even if you're traveling within the country, get tested before and after for your own safety, and the safety of your friends and family members.

Thank you for reminding us of that. And Dan, finally, you know, just as a reminder to what people should know, especially when they're packing their bags?

RONAN: Pack smart ... make sure that you know what you can bring. TSA.gov also has a "What can I bring?" function on the website. So if you're unsure of what you have, you can type it into the little box there and it'll tell you whether it can go in your carry-on bag or in your checked bag. Make sure you have a mask because a mask is going to be required in the airport and on your aircraft at all times.

And no prohibited items. No guns, no liquids. Liquids, gels, and aerosols above 3.4 ounces are still prohibited — and a liquid gel or aerosol is anything that you can spray, spill, pump or pour. So if you have something that can do that, that's a liquid gel or an aerosol. It cannot be in a container or larger than 3.4 ounces.

Holiday Travel
In 2021, U.S. travelers heading to European Union countries will have to apply for authorization online, as part of a security procedure for visa-free travelers.

Keeping your memory sharp

You know those moments when you’re in a group and you don’t remember someone’s name? It’s tough and can be embarrassing. But, it’s something that you can fix.

“I feel like everybody has some kind of level of photographic memory,” said Nelson Dellis, a memory champion, who is a double alumnus and lecturer in the computer science department at the University of Miami.

He believes anyone can train their memory to be better and even do exceptional tasks like he does.

“Most people with good memories have either trained memories or are inadvertently using techniques that others have to learn about and train.”

Dinosaurs Reading Books: The Power of Memory: Nelson Dellis at TEDxCoconutGrove

Dellis recently broke the world record for arranging a deck of playing cards memorized underwater in two minutes and 22 seconds. He also holds the title prestigious of "Grandmaster of Memory’" — just 154 people in the world can say that.

It all started after he saw his grandmother pass away from Alzheimer's disease.

"I had never really thought much about memory until I saw what was happening to my grandmother," he said. "[It] was kind of life-changing. And it's what got me to say, 'You know what? I need to work on my memory. I need to find a way to make sure that doesn't happen to me.'”

He shared with Sundial some of his tips on how you can keep your memory sharp.

In this episode, we also heard this week’s Latin America report about the Christmas tradition of Las Posadas that’s making a comeback in Homestead. Find more about that story here.

Keeping your memory sharp, Las Posadas
Mari Marquez and Marshall Soto play Mary and Joseph during the traditional Posada procession in Homestead in December 2015.

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.