Thursday, April 30, 2015

Welcome to Miami (and the Redlands and Islamorada)

Took a little breaky for a trip to South Florida and also a mini panic attack or two. I say South Florida because on the contrary to what many people think, there is more to that region than just Miami proper. Trips, for me, to the Magic City probably go down a little differently than for others because my mom lives there. My dad lives there. My brother and many of my friends and my dogs live there. Also, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, old supervisors, coworkers, workplace people who, to this day, are like part of my extended family, all still live there. 

I did a lot of things in Miami, but also felt all these overwhelming emotions. Going home isn't like going to New York or San Francisco or Austin. If you don't go out of your way to plan things (and maybe threaten to do them alone) you will stay at your parents' house all five days of your trip sleeping in and hanging by the pool. The end.

Things that blew my mind on this trip:
*My mom asked me if I wanted to do therapy together with her. She may have been joking.
*My grandfather asked me when I'm getting married. (If I had someone to marry at this point in my life, I might be better equipped to answer that question, Grandpa.)
*One of my ex-boyfriends had mutual expectations of hanging out (but never communicated it). I am no mind reader, and I guess, neither is anyone else. You there, ex-bf? I'm talking to you. 
*People still suck at driving. They still suck at parking. They still speak to you in Spanish before they speak to you in English. But if you're blonde (I'm not; my BFF is), they might try English first. 
*My Uber driver entertained a phone call on speaker with his new girlfriend for the duration of our ride. I don't know this person, but I do now know where her tattoos are, that she wasn't planning on showering that night and that she cooked lasagna for her father. 
*Shots in Wynwood is a crazy terrible place. Please, never go there. Unless you're doing a social experiment.

Islamorada: Besides those things, my trip to Miami (and surrounding cities) was lovely. Weather predictions said rain Days 1-5 and it only rained on my last day (if you know me well or even a little bit, you know that I love the rain). So for organizational purposes, let's break this trip down from South to North starting in the Florida Keys. My parents, my brother, his girlfriend and I took off on a leisurely Sunday midday drive to Islamorada, and just a short day in my hometown was not enough.

We drove through the neighborhood I grew up in (Tavernier Creek/Kahiki Harbor), stopped to reminisce and then continued south. Passing by the Moorings we happened upon a new place I'd never seen before (I also probably haven't been to the Keys in over a year), the Florida Keys Brewing Company. Talk about a happy accident. Cute, colorful, chill little brewery where everyone seemed to know each other (yeah, just like Cheers!) and we quickly made friends. We had dinner/drinks at Cheeca Lodge, a place that brings back a lot of memories. I used to take swimming lessons at the pool there when I was six years old or so. Then we watched the sun set at Morada Bay.

The Redlands: I convinced my best friend, who doesn't like creepy crawlies AT ALL, to meet me at Safari Edventure, a hands-on animal encounter type place in the Redlands (which, for those of you who've never been, is a lot of farm/ranch land somewhere between Miami and the Keys. I unfortunately ran over a jesus christ lizard on my way there--or at least it looked like a jesus christ lizard. It ran across the road on its two back feet and when I heard the crunch I squealed. 

Once at SE, I held a tarantula, a baby crocodile and (with assistance) a huge snake. I touched a baby possum (it is a disgusting animal, even as a baby, but I found out that their body temperature is very low and therefore unable to house the rabies disease, which is interesting enough) and a porcupine and stared in amazement at a sloth lying upside down and eating grapes with its side teeth--because they apparently don't have front teeth, or at least that one sloth didn't. I got Lorena to face her fears and she (briefly) held the spider and the crocodile as well. She was quick to locate a bottle of hand sanitizer after.  

All that animal activity made me hungry/thirsty so I drove deeper into the Redlands to Robert Is Here, a farm and fruit stand (with a petting zoo) that has been in business for over 50 years. People stand in line, every day, for milkshakes and guarapo (sugarcane juice). I always get the mango milkshake. It is delicious and amazing and meant to be drunk (drank?) immediately while it is still very ice-creamy and cold. You can also purchase sunflowers at Robert is Here, and coconuts and bananas, and pretty much any fruit/veggie that your heart desires--and that's in season.

Miami: Literally, I ate, and that was it. Pinecrest Bakery never disappoints. They are 24 hours and there to help you with your late night/early morning cafe con leche, pastelito, pan de bono cravings. This is the first place I went to with my parents after I landed in Miami at 5am. Delices de France, a hop and a skip away from my parents' place, has the best almond croissant probably on the planet. Then there's Cafe Demetrio, supposedly Coral Gables' first coffeehouse; I had almost forgotten about this spot, which has a really cool little backyard garden. They have an incredible caramel latte and I spent quite a bit of time there when I worked in the neighborhood back in 2013. Had a belated birthday dinner for my mom at 27 at the Freehand (so yummy) and then a drink at the Broken Shaker. It's not every day you take your parents to a bar you love and they love it just as much. 

Highlights: I, somehow, was able to get a group of 20 or so friends together on my last night (this never happens)--even an ex-boyfriend (or two) and a couple I hadn't seen since their wedding day two years ago. We ended up at Green Street in the Grove, which is a total throwback to my pre-drinking days.
Song: The entire Chef soundtrack because I gave it to my dad for Christmas and made him play it on repeat in the car and at the house plus he burned a copy for me to bring back to LA. 



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