Throwback Thursday: Miami Beach & Calle Ocho

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

While we were in Fort Lauderdale we had a great time with Matt’s family, filling up our days at museums and even visiting a race track to see the kind of life our former adopted greyhound used to hold before she came into our home.

Just after they left we had a chance to visit with another kind of family of ours.  The one we formed in our marina in Guatemala where we formed our own little dinner club with a few of our neighbors and friends there.  Somehow it happened that every member of that party, with the exception of Luis (The Most Interesting Man in the World), happened to be in South Florida at the same time.  Such a strange coincidence since we’d all parted ways in Guatemala 6 months earlier.

Staying at the home of our friend Alfredo’s family in Key Biscayne, our group had the chance to come together once more for a reunion of our dinner club. It was supposed to only be a one night affair, but since the boat was anchored in such a safe spot and we left Georgie with more food or water than she could ever go through in 48 hours, we decided to keep the party going and used our next day to explore a few new parts of Miami.

You can find the original post here.

Monday March 31, 2014

Dinner Club

That place that was on the top of Matt’s list of where he never wanted to visit? Yup, we’re back there. Again. Except today had a lot more in store for us than just a stroll down the boardwalk or some good old fashioned people watching. Our day started early and went all night long.

Just as ready as we were getting ready to leave the DeLaro household this morning, those cute little ankle biters that guard the door tore out of the house and led to an early morning Chasing of the Dogs. Luki must be some kind of animal whisperer and he was able to scoop up one of the unsuspecting fluff balls and used it to lure the other one back home, as if it were running with a sausage dangling in front of it’s nose. Once they were secured back in the house we piled all six of us into the family golf cart to bumble down to Alfredo’s sister’s house for breakfast.  Even though my late night of mixing beer, wine, and RumChada had me barely able to get down a muffin in the morning (apparently even just a little bit of each will do that to you), it was great getting to know Alfredo’s sister and brother in law a little better, and we even had the chance to meet his dad who was full of questions for Matt and Luki about what it was like to sail around the world.  More of those questions were aimed toward Luki since I don’t think we’ve covered near as much ground as they have, but we were still able to throw in a few Caribbean crossings here and there.  

On the way back the keys to the golf card were handed to me, and it didn’t even take 5 minutes for me to almost kill all of us while running a red light at a major intersection.  The braking was just a little bit different than I was used to, and trying to pump on them would have put me right at a stop in the middle of the intersection.  I did manage to keep us alive long enough to get to the marina where Kajaya is anchored, and then pass back the keys to someone who knew what they were doing while we toured the rest of Key Biscayne.  All I can say is this place has some money.  If I thought the McMansions on Lake Sylvia were big, I was blown away by what was going up here.  We toured all the ritzy neighborhoods and even saw the house where Scarface was filmed.

running of the dogs

group at marina

scarface house

Back at the house it was a quick energy burst with a fill up of pop (they had Coke, and Pepsi) before splitting into two actual cars to hit up Miami beach.  I’m sure the golf cart would have made it just fine, but only if I was at the helm.  It’s obvious I’m the only one who knows how to handle that thing.

We parked right in front of Ana Bianca & Alfredo’s old apartment which was just a few blocks from the beach.  Even though I live on a boat, I’m always on the water, and always near a beach, I envied the fact that they used to stroll down the street with a coffee in hand to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic, or with a cooler full of beers in the afternoon, ready to take in the scene.  Surf and turf.  That’s the way to do it.

The six of us searched about the same number of bike stands before we finally came across one that had enough for all of us to ride.  With 30 minutes purchased, we hopped on those bad boys and pedaled the boardwalk of Miami Beach, an area that I’m now becoming quite familiar with.  I’m tell you, there’s just something about this place that keeps drawing me back.

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bicycling in south beach

 We found time in the afternoon to do a little strolling of the streets as well.  Apparently there’s a big shopping district that Matt and I missed the first time around and I had no problem this time running in and out of H&M and Forever 21, trying to find new bikinis or outfits at deeply discounted prices.  Matt wasn’t in the shops with me, I had the credit card, and everything was fair game.  Surprisingly I walked out of every store empty handed which is a sign that Matt’s just rubbing off on me too much.  It was slightly satisfying to walk up to him though and proudly say “I bought nothing“.

When everyone had gotten their shopping in and we enjoyed a sweet afternoon treat of custard, we piled back into the cars for a tour of Little Havana, or Calle Ocho as it’s also known.  It’s an area of Miami that’s full of Cuban restaurants, shops, and markets.  They even have a McDonald’s there that serves rice and beans as a side because it’s so popularly requested.

On the grand tour we walked by a park full of old men playing dominoes, and an area of statues and monuments with tribute to Cuba.  Since we were missing our great Cuban friend Luis, the last and only missing member of the Dinner Club, we thought it would be nice to get a group photo of all of us that we could send to him back in Guatemala.  Asking the first random guy we saw walking down the street, we soon found this was not a wise choice.  Because this man was a Cuban.  That wanted to give us all a lesson on Cuba.  Six people who had all actually been to Cuba, and one that was of Cuba heritage.  We humored him for a little bit and sang along to the songs he was trying to teach us while he simultaneously made a grasshopper from palm fronds.  20 minutes and no photo later, we finally pulled another guy off the street to take our picture, allowing our ‘Cuban Tour Guide’ to be in it with us.

Having lost most of the afternoon now and still needing to get back to Key Biscayne for dinner at Alfredo’s sister’s, we took in just a little bit more of Little Havana, stopping at one of the restaurants for real Cuban coffee, super strong and super delicious, and ham and cheese croquetas.  Mmmm, just like I remembered them.  Since we were in the area we popped into a market to pick up some meat and veggies for dinner and then made our way back to the island for a costume change before dinner since the clouds had come in bringing a huge temperature drop with them.

Calle Ocho memorial

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 Our night was rounded out with another family dinner, although not quite as big or with as many family members as the night before.  It was great though, sitting pool side of the complex where Alfredo’s sister Ivonne and husband Vance live where Luki got the brie (BBQ) ready, and Mimi (his mother) showed up with some freshly made peach daiquiris.  We sampled the mahi that Kajaya caught on their Gulf Stream passage from Isla Mujeres, and talked about the whens on where we’ll see each other next since we know that this can’t be it for our group.  I’m so happy that Matt and I decided to stay another night and can’t even imagine all that we would have missed had we gone home early.

It’s going to be a hard thing to leave tomorrow morning and go back to the boat where it will just be the two of us again for the foreseeable future as we move along to the Bahamas.  I am really, really going to miss these people as they truly have become family to us.  Long live the Guatemalan Dinner Club, you will always have a special place in our hearts.

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Matt & Jessica & Luki

Ana Bianca & Alfredo

 

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Throwback Thursday: Visiting That Place We Said We’d Never Go – Aka Miami

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Waiting so long for a weather window to get from Mexico to Florida, you’d think we’d be on the go again as soon as we arrived there.  Due to a little more bad weather though, and honestly, some sheer exhaustion from the passage over, we ended up taking a week pit stop in Key West.  Although most of the days we were content to sit on the boat relaxing, and listening to radio stations in English again, we did find a few chances to get out and explore.

One afternoon was spent taking a tour of the town by scooter. It turns out the island was a bit smaller than we had anticipated and the latter part of the day was using to scooter to make grocery runs, stocking up on necessities like Coca Cola and Kraft Mac’n’Cheese.  For days we didn’t feel like going to shore and getting yelled at by the guy at the dinghy dock for parking in front just so I could ask him a question, we brought Georgie to shore for a little terra firma and a chance to stretch her legs and explore.

Still wanting to get a move on, our next stop was Marathon, which unfortunately we were a little underwhelmed by. Boot Key Harbor was just a little too crowded for our taste, and we found ourselves anchored outside the bay instead.  With it’s amazing sunsets over Seven Mile Bridge though, it wasn’t a bad trade. Heading north again as soon as the weather allowed, we made a 24 hour passage to Coconut Grove, riding the Gulf Stream and encountering lots of ship traffic in the middle of the night.

Finally nestled in a place that we actually wanted to be in for awhile, I drug Matt out for a day to the one place he said he never wanted to go.

You can find the original post here.

Saturday March 1, 2013

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“I can’t wait to get to Miami. Such a big city, all the lights, right on the water. I think it’s going to be really cool.”

“We’re not going to Miami”

“Why not? We’re going to have to pass right by it anyway. Oh! Maybe we can go to a nightclub there! Hmmmm, what will I have packed that’s kind of night-clubby? See, I told you there are times I will need heels.”

“First of all, we’re not going to Miami. Second, even if we did, we’re not going out to a night club there.”

“Why can’t we going to Miami?”

“Because it’s Miami. If there is one place in the world I do not want to hit on this trip, it’s Miami.”

 

That’s a conversation that took place two years ago between Matt and I while we were still sitting back in Michigan and planning this whole adventure out. Could you have guessed because of my nightclub comment? Ha, like I even think about those things now.

 

He was serious about it. If there was one place he never wanted to go…. I’m not sure if it was the idea of the crowds combined with the non-Manhattan like culture that he didn’t want to deal with? Or maybe a preconceived notion that everyone there would be fake and pretentious? I’m not sure, he never really went into his reasons. Just that it was never ever going to happen. And guess where we are now? That’s because I always get my way. (No, honestly, I just brought it up again as a stop along the way and he never said boo. Until we got here.)

So this morning we found ourselves at the Metro station in Coconut Grove, trying to figure out how to buy a day pass on the transit system and read the timetables and routes. We were getting ourselves to South Beach, but we were doing it poor man style. Which was probably apparent to anyone watching as I sat on the bench at the metrorail station, covering my feet in about sixteen bandages to ease the pain of the blisters I’d received the day before from walking miles in non broken in shoes. Classy were were..not. But at least you couldn’t tell that from far away.

As we stepped off our second bus that had brought us past the causeways and to the beach front, we had no idea to start or even what we were looking for. Of course I had wanted to do the Art Deco tour while we were there, a style of architectural style of the 20’s and 30’s featuring bold geometric shapes and bright colors, but the only information I had on me was a snapshot on my camera taken from a PDF on my computer screen. A now very small and hard to read photograph. Throwing away the plan of actually following a plan, we wandered until we found a beach walk and water. There didn’t seem to be any art deco buildings here, just mammoth hotels and waiters catering drinks between the pool and the beach.

Strolling the boardwalk on this absolutely gorgeous Saturday morning, we wound our way around until finally hitting Ocean Drive..and a Starbucks. Those gift cards my mom had just sent me back in Key West were still burning a hole in my pocket, and I dragged Matt through the door to get us a few iced coffees. Another establishment that Matt can’t stand. Now, according to him, we matched all the pretentious a-holes out on South Beach that day. (I still loved the gift cards mom, thank you!) I paid him no mind and just kept thinking ‘Oooh, free iced coffee!’

Stepping out on to Ocean Drive we were instantly greeted with the art deco buildings we had come to see, starting with the Betsy Ross hotel. From there we slowly looked at each passing building, not knowing the history of any of them because I forgot to print out all of the information I had just researched, but appreciating them nonetheless. Or at least one of us was.

“I hate the stucco. They’re not even built well.”

“They may not be built well, but at least they’re different.”

“But look at it. It doesn’t even look good.”

“It doesn’t have to look good, it just has to be different from what we see every day to make it special. I’m not saying these are the most beautiful buildings we’ve ever seen, I’m just pointing out that they’re something new and different for us to look at.”

 

Our tour down Ocean Drive didn’t last much longer. And don’t worry, if you’re thinking that Matt was being a jerk or ruining my day by complaining, I was just happy that he took me out there period. Again, this was one place he did not.want.to.go. So the fact that he still went, willingly, and just because I wanted to, well that’s love right there. And every time he gave something a repulsive look or made a loathsome comment, I just laughed instead and thought ‘Aaww, he really cares about me for being here’.

After a delicious lunch of ropa vieja at a Cuban restaurant we hit the sand to check out the gaggle of girls in small swimsuits that South Beach is supposed to be known for. Maybe it’s just not spring break yet, but there weren’t as many of the perfectly molded plastic women as we thought there would be out here. Isn’t this one of the plastic surgery capitals of the US? Maybe all those women had more procedures booked for today? We didn’t see them out on the beach. Just a bunch of natural all American girls. Ok, with some noticeable plastic surgery here and there.

Loitering on the beach until we returned to the spot we started out in the morning, we picked a spot on the boardwalk to relax in the shade and watch the people go by. It was, I have to admit, some of the best people watching we’ve been able to do in a long time. By the time a few more hours had gone by, we were both having a great time and I think Matt even forgot that he didn’t want to be here. I think some sun, sand, and waves (ok, and maybe a cold can of Mt. Dew) can have that effect on anyone. In fact, I may have just talked him into coming back tomorrow to lay out on the beach. I must have some pretty awesome powers of persuasion.

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Random Images from our Anchorage

Sunday May 25, 2014

sunset over Miami

I wish I could tell you that more exciting things were happening here on the ‘Dip, but honestly, there hasn’t been much for us to do. Most of our projects are reliant on getting our order from Defender, something that was supposed to come yesterday, but still hadn’t arrived when we went to the Post Office to claim it.  So we sit here stagnant.  Stalled.

We try to keep ourselves busy in the afternoon with little cleaning projects and even took Georgie next door to Monument Island on Friday.  I didn’t realize what a hermit she has turned into since we’ve adopted her.  Going from being in a shelter with over 200 cats and a dozen assistants, she was extremely overwhelmed by all the weekend boaters that decided to turn this into a party island and I think was actually excited to get back into the dinghy after less than five minutes ashore.

Let’s hope that our package comes in on Tuesday so I’ll have something new to report on, but until then, enjoy some random images of our anchorage.  We really haven’t ventured past it in the last few days.

Monument Island at night

Our first night in Miami, anchored east of Monument Island.

Georgie in her litter box

Georgie couldn’t wait to get back in her litter box after I washed it out.

Belle Island, Miami Beach

Storms rolling in behind Belle Island.

rain over Miami

Monument Island, Miami Beach

sunset over Miami

Georgie on Beach

Just a quick walk for the kitty.

Star Island, Miami

Passing by Star Island.  Not all that great.

Matt driving dinghy

sunset over Miami Beach

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