Monday March 31, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.