Before I do the Miami rambling, please note that I was able to get a podcast episode into the pipeline before I left. You can listen to it below. You can find the show notes here.
Miami is pretty wild. I was shocked by the Hispanic influence. Heck, you can’t even call it “influence.” The place is, culturally-speaking, a foreign country, no exaggeration. Every person in my group that I spoke with said they felt like they were in, say, Guatemala or some other Latin-American country. Over 70% of Miamians speak Spanish at home. When you went to a store or hired an Uber driver or talked with a waiter, the chances were, the person didn’t speak English. It was simply a fact: not a fact that anyone was proud or ashamed of, but just a fact. English is the second language in Miami on the streets and in the local businesses. In the public sphere influenced by government or big business, English was spoken, but otherwise, you were far more likely to find Spanish than English.
I’ve never been to Germany, but based on what people tell me, you’re more likely to encounter a cab driver or waiter or store clerk that speaks English (albeit as a second language) than you are to encounter his equivalent in Miami that speaks English.
So did I like Miami? I don’t know. I either loved it or hated it. It was brutally hot. It was in the low eighties, but man, it felt like Michigan in the 90s. I don’t know if it’s because I’m acclimated to winter weather or because Miami is closer to the sun or because of humidity, but wow: it was hot 24/7. Things, however, were fine–even pleasant–in the shade if there was a breeze (and there normally was). And the city itself? It’s weird, simply weird. I’ll just go through my Top 10 list of things that struck me, either for better or worse:
10. Lots of skylines. I’m used to cities with a skyline. I’m not used to cities with lots of skylines. From Miami Beach, I could see five skylines. I’m pretty sure all of them, except the main one (downtown Miami) are retirement high rises, but maybe not.
9. The traffic. Hoodoggy. Miami is a trainwreck when it comes to traffic. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen, easily, though I haven’t been to Los Angeles (that trip is next month . . . sigh).
8. The beaten buildings in Miami Beach. Most of the buildings in Miami Beach showed signs of wear and tear: peeled paint, chips, whatever. But you know the owners are wealthy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen money look so shabby.
7. The stucco buildings. I love ’em. They’re all over the place. I think it’s because stucco is a preferred building material, but it simply doesn’t withstand cold temperatures well, so it’s mostly used in southern climates.
6. South Beach’s Art Deco district. I loved it, absolutely loved it. See The Weekly Eudemon Twitter page for pictures.
5. The beach walk on Miami Beach. Way too crowded, and you could rarely see the beach due to the overgrown vegetation (probably for erosion control, if I had to guess).
4. The prices. Miami is very expensive. Jack bought two Coronas at a bar for $23 that was far off the Sobe beaten track. Things were more reasonable in Miami itself, but yuck. Miami Beach prices are outrageous.
3. On the Rocks bar in North Beach. Alex and I went here the first day, with our luggage in tow, waiting for the rest of the guys. It’s a dive, but it plays classic rock music and the drink prices were more than reasonable. It also had a cool mural (I’ll try to post a pic).
2. Wynwood Walls. Coolest urban art exhibit I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen . . . no others. Highly recommended. Really neat stuff. Free.
1. The fact that the city really is, like its billing says, the capitol of Latin America.