As I hinted in last week’s Flickr Friday post, I spent the weekend in Florida! I had feared rainy weather but there were no storms to speak of, just tropical temperatures and fantastic ocean breezes.
Saturday was our Miami day. Dad and I had never been before, but we’d both seen Burn Notice and The Birdcage and felt semi-prepared. And neither show failed to disappoint! Miami is just like Burn Notice and The Birdcage. Just kidding! But seriously, a little bit. Lots of boozing tan people with designer clothes and nothing to do. Wow, that was rude. I’m sorry. The little we saw of Miami gave me that general impression. That said, we really only hit up the crazy tourist zones: Vizcaya, Miami Beach, and Lincoln Road Mall. Mojitos were had, delicious food was eaten, a brief homage to Burn Notice was paid (I’ll post our pictures of that later…), and general site seeing of the “fanciest” spots was conducted.
Speaking of the latter, one of the highlights, and also one of the more freaky moments, was when we decided to explore the islands that house the ocean-front properties of the wealthiest Miami folks. As we drove over the bridge to Palm Island, we realized, of course, that it was a gated community (according to Wikipedia, Al Capone and Barbara Walters have lived/live there). The guard asked us our business and we told him the facts: we’re tourists from California and we want to see some of the homes, sir. And he let us in! I was super surprised too, given that we were in a huge black van with tinted windows…but I guess Pops and I “passed.” We spent the next half hour driving around Palm and Hibiscus islands, gawking at all the houses with their fancy cars and ginormous yachts. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a neighborhood like it. 1% much?
By the end of the day we were ready for the real world. A coworker of my Dad’s had told him about a great food place out in Little Havana (technically still in Miami), so we headed west for some authentic Cuban cuisine. And damn was it good! El Palacio de Los Jugos, man. Check it out. Dad and I practiced our Spanish and ordered two huge plates of carne and arroz con frijoles, proceeding to stuff our faces. It was beautiful. Then we got stomach aches and went to Whole Foods for a salad. Typical Central Californians with a real or imagined need for ruffage.
On Sunday, Pops and I drove out to the Everglades for an airboat ride at Sawgrass Recreation Park. Gators! They swam right on up to the boat as our guide calmly explained that these guys have a five foot vertical leap. Cool. We learned some about the various Everglades ecosystems (complex!), the awesome animals that inhabit the swamplands (manatees!), and the foreign plants (melaleuca!) and species (think python snakes!) that are messing with the area. Our guide also told us that Prez Obama has put 2.5 million into removing over 200 miles of Florida highway in order to remedy the dam situation that they’ve created (those damn dams! You were thinking it so I wrote it).
We spent the rest of the day touring Ft. Lauderdale, once again driving around to check out the fancy homes (this time on “regular” non-gated islands) until I got car sick from looking out the window and scoffing.
Overall it was a lovely, though perhaps disorienting, Florida weekend. Was it the shortness of my stay or the culture shock (hello tanned 60 year old women in miniskirts!) that made it all feel so crazy? Not too sure. No matter, I will return! And when I do, I plan to hit up Key Largo and maybe even see some manatees! I shall also sing Bette Midler’s “Only in Miami” and it will be great.*
*The whole time we were in Florida I couldn’t get the “Only in Miami is Cuba so far away” refrain out of my head. Also, Bette Midler’s Experience the Divine was one of the first albums I ever purchased with my own money…no joke.