Monday, September 27, 2004

Miami--A Mid-Semester Escape Saga in 2 Parts


First, let me explain. I'm not an Usher fan. Far from it. In fact modern, so-called R&B is one of the few musical genres I have no love for (as hip hoppers say in the U.S ;)) Free travel on the other hand? Mad for it.

So that is how a rock/ reggae fan and JJJ listener came to be on a plane bound for an R&B concert in South Florida one Tuesday morning in September...


Thanks to Arena TV on Foxtel I won return economy airfares, return airport transfers, five nights at the Winterhaven Hotel on Ocean Drive, tickets to an Usher concert at American Airlines Arena and return limo transfers to the concert for and I and friend. We were supposed to meet Usher too, fortunately that didn't pan out(!).


Ocean Drive is a spectacular neon streetscape in Miami's South Beach. Versace owned the street's only residential home until he was shot on the steps outside it some years ago.

If you glance out your left window on the way into South Beach from the airport you'll spy an island populated by splendid mansions. That sandstone building used to house Al Capone. Just a few doors away is Gloria Estefan.

I mentioned neon: it's something of an obcession in South Beach--where gorgeous Art Deco design and pastel shades make the entire town look like a cartoon set--at night many of the buildings change colour before your very eyes: now its purple, now its blue, now its pink.

Miami has one of the most concentrated populations of spunky blokes in the free world.

Miami has a huge Cuban population. Their presence manifests itself in the form of countless eateries about town--specifically in Little Havana and Espanola Way. In the inclusion of empanadas and mojitos--a lush, refreshing cocktail of rum, lime juice, soda water and mint leaves--on menus. In the "Cubans Do It Better" tees displayed in the windows of adult shops. In latino music blaring from hotted up cars. The massive Cuban population is also a significant contributor to Miami's status as one of the most concentrated populations of spunky blokes in the free world (see above).


Americans get a bad rap but for the most part, they are *not* their government. Those I spoke to, at least, think they had no business in Iraq (or Vietnam for that matter); that health and education are under-represented in government policy; that George Bush is an idiot... in fact, all the obvious tenets of a compassionate, civilised society.

Americans boys are far less inhibited than their Aussie counterparts and will not hesitate to approach and proposition you at every opportunity. If in doubt, feign jet lag and leave early.

Apparently, we Aussies have a different way of *walking*. Don't even try to blend in.


Took too many photos on our first day (when we braved a tropical downpour like true tourists and set out about town), and not enough on subsequent sunny days.

Drank too many mojitos.

Lazed on the the beach and watched the beautiful people play.

Dined on shrimp at a poolside bar.

Ate empanadas.

Shopped in the "presidential" streets: Lincoln and Washington.

Honed meditation skills while trapped in an Usher concert.

Fled in the wee hours of what was *supposed* to be out penultimate morning, after being issued with a mandatory evacuation notice at 10:30PM the night before, due to Hurricane Jeanne.

Escaped on the last plane outta Miami the following afternoon.


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