For anyone planning on a visit of their own; (Miami) here is a down and dirty, off-the-cuff, better late than never, family visit write-up of this little slice of Americana-Cubana paradise. Miami, Florida as most geographically less challenged people know lies just at the south-eastern tip of the Florida mainland; its Cuban flare influence smacks you side the head the moment you deplane; your first clue may be the sudden and vast numbers of outstanding Cuban food eateries, cafes and even cigar shops. Eating at the airport is a good thing.
Photo Above – My nephew Mike and Abuela trying Stacy’s pita chips, brown ale, lechee wine, mango wine, avocado wine? Mike – on the table sits your Gator Tail – Brown Ale; thanks to the Minion employee at UPS; you won’t be receiving it in the mail anytime soon! Last I saw, your Uncle Rick is holding the Gator by the Tail and the beer in the box.
To say that Miami is at the tip of Florida also discards any prior knowledge of say, the Everglades, Homestead, or even the Florida keys. And this is me just talking about a small slice of the eastern and southern part of the state. Any of these three destinations (Everglades, Homestead or Florida keys) can easily fill a week’s vacation – and that is only, if one has a crazy Miami family like mine, that knows where to go.
My nephews girlfriend baked this chocolate cake on steroids. The top part of the cake is made out of flan. For those not familiar flan is a pastry usually coated with sweet syrup. It is similar to a custard tart.
Family. Time to spend with my aging 84-year-old mother who until recently also drove. But you have no clue. My crazy family also includes brothers, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends and neighbors of crazy family. No, they probably don’t have enough of a wow factor that can easily qualify most other crazy families for a reality show of their own. Perhaps it is me but, I always see the drama of their daily life in this heavily laden strip mall, heavily tolled, restaurant to restaurant, air-conditioned home to air-conditioned car existence. Perhaps they do qualify? My crazy family always does things together all the time, perhaps not something unique or television watchable like losing weight together, getting tattooed together or going on a road trip together. Visiting a four-acre flea market or swap shop? Perhaps.
Photo above: Do you have dessert? Why yes we do. My mom wanted to eat at an authentic (Spain) Spanish restaurant for her birthday and so she orders Ciete Mares Soup (7 Seas Soup) which she could’ve ordered at any great seafood restaurant; instead of say a paella and a Sangria.
Wait. I see it now! Crazy family travels together to a food truck festival and classic car show for the purposes of eating extremely expensive food on micro paper plates prepared by wanna be Chefs also lacking a land base. No, they don’t assemble at any place but, somewhere near or close enough to the Everglades so that hordes of these invisible, almost to the microscopic level (bugs) descend on the crazy family. And no one but the visiting family (that be us) seems to be getting bit. People all around us must be immune or worse yet zombies! My rare blood A+ wife and mother in law all jump and stomp their feet like a bunch of crazies. Their Cajun Cuban/Argentinian/Korean fusion paper bowl of food now flies all about. “Did you get to try the …… this…..that……or…….fusion food”. Sorry, Sis we are too busy trying to keep the blood we arrived with.
Photo above: The present littlest one, my niece and nephew. Missing from this picture is his mom Mellisa. See, we also eat salads!
Miami, at Florida’s southeastern tip, is also more than Calle Ocho (8th Avenue – leading towards downtown) and Little Havana; if your trip gets you this far. Can’t also forget Miami Beach, South Beach, Biscayne Bay and all the Star islands; plus let us not forget Bimini, Bahamas, just a mere 50 miles away and still calling. Next trip, by ferry or plane – we will go! I was maybe 16 years old when a Canadian hostess at a Holiday Inn restaurant I worked at (saving to buy a motorcycle) asked if I wanted to accompany her husband and son to Bimini on a 30′ sailboat. Of course, I said YES. Cuba? 90 miles away from the tip of Key West.
Photo above – Site of the no seeums attack. Some of my crazy family.
A visit to Florida is still very much in vogue and being a true Miamian you are the one with the knowledge as to the best places to see and e a t! Flea markets or swap shops are always in and on this trip there was also talk about a mega one – on four, count-em four acres – somewhere around Orlando, Florida.
Photo above – Rob and Jenni – celebrating Jenni’s 29th? “La Finka”. This place was hopping. Possibly the best mojito I’ve ever enjoyed. You two are priceless thank you for your hospitality!
Knowing where to find the best bakeries, cafecitos or latest food trend is priceless knowledge for any tourist. On our last trip the Central American food theme was hot; on this trip, did I hear Korean/Cuban fusion? If you think that sounds like a strange mix then just imagine the population – a large group of old people mixed in with lots and lots of immigrants, throw in your N. Florida rednecks, S. Florida keys conchs, and then add about twenty cruise ships worth of tourists from Miami International Airport, all arriving at about the same time; can you say heavy s l o w trafficked roads and expressways. And I don’t mean just rush hour.
Photo above – Your truly with mojito and an extremely content spouse with a mojito of her own.
The foliage and weather this time of year is hot and beautiful and there is no shortage of anything to eat; or did I yet tell you about the bugs? The mosquitoes or no see-ums feasted on both Patti and I while we attempted to feast at a food truck/car show rally. I think they parked on purpose somewhere in the middle of the Everglades or maybe it was a less tame place like a Biscayne bay mangrove.
Photo above – Now we’ll load up the jet ski’s first on the back of this super fast Bimini flyer and then we’ll ………………..don’t say no, it could happen!
So what is culture shock? Just ask California Patti and her mom Elaine. Both probably experienced enough to last say, one lifetime. Isn’t this the reason for traveling anyway?
To get away from the daily to experience as many different things and ways of life (of locals) as possible, and might I also add; in the shortest amount of time possible?
As we drive towards Homestead, Florida on the turnpike, through this complex, beautiful and diverse country, towards the USA. Wait, we were in the USA.
And in the USA we know how things work. Work all year for a two-week vacation. Wait we’re also retired – and this is our life we’re living. We need to go back to La Paz and our boat, the Western Flyer to rest up till the next family visit. Now go get some rest.