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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The beginning of what I mean when I say everything turned to crap


So I put the voodoo bracelet from the voodoo shop in New Orleans on, and not ten minutes later, after walking very carefully on the wet footpath/sidewalk/whatever you want to call it, I slipped on some marble and landed on my knee. Hard. It hurt like crazy, let me tell ya. Everything was slippery because it had been raining, and it was drizzly, and I had what felt like (it may not have been) a 2 mile walk back to the hostel.
By the time we got back to the hostel, (I'd taken off my shoes so that I could have some grip so Eleanor - though very patient, and she didn't say anything - was probably getting really annoyed at my constant "Ow, oh, shit, ow's" that I was coming out with as I hobbled along behind her) it was time for us to set off again, to go on our walking tour. No prizes for guessing that we didn't end up going. That one's too easy.

The next morning we said goodbye to New Orleans and headed to the airport. We did our self-serve check in thingy and discovered our tickets said 5:55pm, not 11am, like they were supposed to. Hang on a minute...
Turns out the flight had been cancelled and we didn't know. So we sat at the airport for seven hours waiting to get to Miami, essentially losing a day in Miami.

After the seven hour wait in New Orleans for our new flight, we lost a whole day in Miami. And when we arrived at the hostel in Miami Beach, we were a little astounded as it looked nothing like the ad. And when they said boutique, clearly they meant really really small. With some lovely aussie room mates but rude German ones who would bring a gaggle of girls into the room to get ready for a night out, talking, laughing, drinking, using hair dryers etc whilst there were four people in the room trying to sleep. Every night. I guess this is what hostelling is about. I had the worst sleep EVER while staying there.

We quickly discovered that English is the second language in Miami, as most residents and shop keepers we came across spoke Spanish with a little bit of English. And through people watching, we also discovered that Miami is the home of the really really brown white person. I'd never seen caucasians with SUCH brown skin before. I don't know how they do it. Clearly not the way I do it, because when I went to the beach on our first full day in Miami, I got horrifically, painfully sunburnt. It was overcast and there was a cool breeze so I didn't even notice it happening. I was still wearing the voodoo bracelet.
We ran into one of our Italian friends on the beach - he walked straight past Eleanor on the beach while I was in the water (which is so much warmer than Inverloch, you can just walk straight in without the "ooh! ooh! It's frickin' cold!" thing going on that I am really good at)

Opposite the white (coarser, more shelly than at home) sandy beaches is a strip of hostels, restaurants and bars who are all vying for your custom, and this is really the main drag of Miami Beach. Waiters and waitresses hand you flyers and show you the menu without being prompted, so much so that we resorted to walking on the beach side of the street so that we wouldn't be accosted by someone at every single restaurant. Each restaurant also had already made examples of the menu on platters outside so that you could see what the meal would turn out like. They also had monster sized cocktails, with 2 for the price of 1 deals. However, it was 2 FOR 1 PERSON. We had very strict instructions that we could not share cocktails, I was not ALLOWED to even have a sip of Eleanor's if I wanted to. I've never come across that before, that you get told HOW to enjoy your meal.

Anyway, because of my sunburn, a bottle of aloe vera after sun gel and I became joint at the hip and I found it extremely difficult to move around much. But I persevered.
The next morning I went on a wind boat...air boat...? A boat tour of the Everglades which is a HUGE national park area that is pretty much covered in water. Decades ago, developers were trying to drain the everglades which was covered in 6 inches of water. But by digging, they struck the water table (I think I have my facts straight) and flooded the whole area. It is now covered in 6 FEET of water.
The sun was burning me through my clothes, just by standing somewhere there wasn't any shade. I was a bit scared of a 40 minute boat tour with no top. Eep. But it was okay. The wind took the sting out.

I didn't realise it was another popular destination for alligators, but we came across several of them, including an itty bitty baby one hiding amongst the lily pads. It was smart to do this, as our guide told us that 1 in 5 baby alligators is eaten by other alligators. These ones weren't such fans of marshmallows, like the New Orleans gators were.
After the boat tour there was a wildlife demonstration, in which one of the rangers demonstrated that alligators can't see in front of them, by putting his hand in the alligators mouth. Though he had to be extremely careful, as if he touched the alligator's face in any way, accidently grazed its tooth with his finger, then the jaw clamped shut in a millisecond. We had the opportunity to have our photo taken holding an alligator (for a fee), but I declined and for that the ranger slapped me in the face with the alligator's tail. :)

For the rest of the afternoon I took it easy in the hostel to stay out of the stinging sunshine and, you know, not move, and Eleanor went shopping and take photos of the art deco district and Little Cuba. Apparently, Miami Beach gets the thumbs up as a shopping destination.

That night after dinner, we went back to the beach in the darkness, listening to music from the clubs on the main street and watching lightning flashes over the city. It was a really nice end to Miami, and my sunburn was slowly becoming less painful. We both nearly fell asleep lying in the warm sand.

Next stop, was ONE DAY in Boston. We were starting to doubt that one day would really be enough to see everything.


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