At the time of writing, I’m sat in my hostel, looking across Ocean Drive to the Atlantic; palms, clear blue sea and a cloudless sky. Jealous?
Yesterday I was awake dangerously early, under the impression that it was much later than it was. It turns out that jet lag is a real thing that exists and can happen to people and I am one of those people who it can happen to. After desperately trying to convince myself I could get another few hours, I got up and took advantage of the hostel’s free (in the sense that I’d already paid for it) breakfast. I was shocked and appalled to find that there was no tea available. What kind of backwards country am I in?
After enjoying a coffee, I headed down onto the beach before the weather got unbearably hot. Beautiful white sands stretching as far as the eye can see in both directions and the clear blue ocean in front.
I decided to walk north, going beyond the Art Deco quarter and towards the less interesting architecture of condominiums and apartment blocks. After about an hour in the heat I felt that I needed to take shelter and found there were several covered benches just behind the beach.
I spent just under an hour watching people come and go travelling by foot, bike, skateboard, and presumably just for a laugh, Segway. A serious amount of people were jogging along the sea-front and I kept wondering how many of them could feel how warm it was out. I was breaking into a sweat just walking, but that might be because I left sub-arctic winter conditions a few days ago. As the temperature increased I headed back to the hostel to seek shelter from the sun and start thinking about what I was going to do after Miami.
In the afternoon I made two excursions, assuming that “by now it must have cooled down”. Wrong. Miami is hotter than the sun from 11am until I don’t even know what time. I found somewhere to pick up some supplies to eat over the next few days and wandered the streets off the beach, catching sights of yellow schools buses, and those classic old cars that you think of when ever anyone says “Miami”, or more accurately, “Cuba”.
On my second attempt to brave the heat I went back to the beach and walked south, again leaving the Art Deco quarter behind for apartments and the like, hoping to catch a sight of the Downtown skyline which is behind said apartments. After failing this, I headed back to my hostel again, bathed in sweat. Miami is pretty cool, but I was under the impression it might have still been too hot for me.
Back at the hostel I got chatting with one of the girls in my room, Jennifer who is a model from Dallas and regularly comes down to Miami for work. Sadly she didn’t get out much and didn’t have any tips for things I definitely needed to check out. Although I later found out that beyond the beach there’s not much that you need to see while in Miami.
Later on I met Sergio, who had been travelling in Florida and was spending his last few days chilling before heading back to Columbia. He persuaded me in joining him on a bar crawl later that night before he headed to the beach, but upon his return he found me asleep and didn’t want to wake me. The jet lag had struck again.
The following morning I got up at another unreasonable hour, but I had made plans for the day and needed to eat before I went out and had to try to shower before the other people in my room jumped in the bathroom. After getting myself ready I was picked up by Miami Adventures and taken with a group of others down to the Everglades. The journey through Miami alone made me realize just how big America is. Previously I was expecting to be able to walk everywhere like I did in Europe, but I am going to have to take advantage of public transport where ever possible. This city alone is vast. After about a 40 minute drive we were unloaded at Gator Park for an air boat ride through the east glades, known as the River of Grass.
It didn’t take long for us to get loaded onto a boat, and introduced to our guide; Dan, who came across the kind of man you would expect to have a pet alligator living in his bathtub.
The ride itself was impressive, and Dan, having worked there for
more than 15 years, gave us a lot of information. We began slowly down a canal, meeting two small alligators who were quite happy to swim right up and bump the boat.
We then reached the natural glades, and Dan built up some speed, flying us through a 30 minute trip before returning to the canal where we were bumped by another large alligator.
There were also a lot of birds, one in particular being a Greenback Heron, which I failed to photograph; the smallest of the heron family. We were then taken back to the park, where another guide demonstrated alligator wrestling, which was essentially jumping on an alligator from behind, and discussed the various facts and features of their native alligators.