Miami in Transit

To start my 2 week journey back to Iceland, I flew from Cancun to Miami, which I had never considered that similar, but they definitely gave me a familiar feeling. The downtown area and beautiful beaches could verywell have been side by side, and the only real reminder I was in the USA was the big, multi-lane highways covered in shiny, new cars and oversized SUV´s. The Miami airport was almost totally employed by Spanish speakers, and even when I got to South Beach, many were still speaking Spanish. I just resorted to asking questions to retailers and bus drivers in Spanish again, and that went flawlessly. Different to the rest of Central America, people actually thought I was latina, so people assumed speaking to me in spanish was totally normal. I guess I wasn´t that far off from being confused at how everyone knew I was a gringa during my trip.

definitely one instance of "window-weather," as we say often in Iceland where it's actually common

Miami beach was shockingly cold, so even though Mexico hadn´t been that warm, sitting and starting out at the Caribbean Ocean on one of the sunniest days with temperatures at 5° C was really hard to comprehend. It was like a postcard picture of everyone´s expectations for South Beach, but then totally deserted except for a few people dressed in winter clothes and seagulls hovering way to close for comfort since I was the only person with tortilla chips in my hands. 

I was wearing my 2 month old tattered clothes, jeans with holes in the legs, a summery shirt, and flip flops, so I certainly wasn´t prepared for the weather. I also wasn´t dressed for walking around Lincoln Road Mall, since everyone was super hipster, fashion savy and dressed to kill, some even appropiately warm for the weather – I didn’t know Floridans (Floridians?) had winter fashion. I decided to go into a clothing store and buy an entire new outfit, and came out, successfully, with new boots, jeans, a sweater, a scarf, and a faux-leather jacket. I left my old outfit on the top of a garbage can, just incase anyone would have any use for it.

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A Weekend in Tampa, and a visit to the #1 Beach in the USA

Fort DeSoto Park BeachI spent this weekend in Tampa, Florida, traveling with my best friend Clio from Montreal. She flew out to San Francisco first, and after a few days touring around Berkeley Campus, visiting the Green Strings farm in Petaluma and winetasting the Sonoma Valley, we flew to Tampa to visit Kyle, my ex-next-door-neighbour from the MV Explorer (the cruise ship that was home to our Semester at Sea fall 2006 voyage).

When we arrived early Friday morning, we went straight to Clearwaters beach from the airport, and after some seafood, famous Skyline Chili and beer for breakfast, we transferred to lounging poolside at his downtown apartment. We spent the day going between the pool, hottub, and case of locally brewed Yuengling beer (self proclaimed as the oldest brewery in America). This was pretty typical of our everyday activities, plus we managed to sample a bit of the nightlife in Channelside and at ‘gussy’ Jackson’s (Kyle’s descriptive word for dressing up more than usual for the venue).

The beach we went to on Sunday is part of the Fort DeSoto State Park, and has been (2005 was the last time) rated the number one beach in all of the USA. It was certainly beautiful, under-commercialised, clean and peaceful, a rare sight to find anywhere near Miami or Orlando beaches where the multidues of people quickly infringe upon the serenity and natural feeling that this remote beach offered.

Driving around Tampa Bay was certainly a though-provoking sight; the entire state is basically at sea-level (except for the towering bridges over mile-long bodies of water), and with the growing concern of rising sea levels, more storms (hurricanes particularily) and the natural disasters recently hitting New Orleans and the Philippines fresh in our mind, I couldn’t help but worry about the city of Tampa and its surrounding natural paradises that could one day easily be completely under water.