My Bride and I are enthusiastic tourists, and we recently enjoyed a week in Miami, Florida, U.S.A., where we successfully ate and drank a satisfying sample of the pink-flamingoed peninsula’s offerings.
While we were laboring to demolish heavy lunches in the casual open-air dining environment at El Palacio de los Jugos, a bewhiskered gentleman wearing a sun-weathered ballcap, who was sitting a few tables over, caught my eye and informed me we were tourists. He walked over to our table.
“Let me give you some advice,” he offered, looking at the Panama hat (recently purchased at the Walgreens) and white short-sleeved oxford shirt (J. Crew) I was sporting. “You stick out pretty bad around here, you should lose that hat, and don’t wear a white shirt like that, wear a t-shirt, a gray one, and you’ll go away, you know?”
He continued, asking us what we wanted to do in Florida, because he was going to tell us about places to go that weren’t the typical tourist places, and we would tell people about them because of how not typical they were. He was really fixated on getting us to this place called Shark Valley, where we could walk among the alligators (which was immediately confusing because of the name of the place), and we didn’t want to tell him we had zero interest in walking among or even viewing alligators, but he wanted us to understand the alligators are misunderstood, they don’t attack like people think they do, and the alligators at Shark Valley, you could walk right among them. We did not want to go to Shark Valley.
We had two and a half days left of our trip, and we didn’t say this out loud, but the plan was, after we crammed in a few more bites of “Regular Cubano” sandwich ($4.95) and a serving of arroz con pollo with plantains that could have served three ($8, including a can of soda), we were going on a 90-minute boat ride where you could enjoy a beverage and look at mansions of famous people—or, you know, places the tour guide says are mansions of famous people—and then we wanted to go for a drink at a place called Gramps in the Design District, which we later learned was going to kill nightlife in Miami Beach, the Design District, according to our Uber driver, and then maybe we’d get something to eat before we got a ride back to Miami Beach, and then our last full day on the beach was going to be a long walk on the beach, not among alligators.
But what did we like to do, our new advisor, let’s call him Hubert (because I think that’s what he said his name was), wanted to know, what did we want to do? A boat ride? Hubert grabbed a pen and paper and started making a list, much to the displeasure of his elderly mama, who, we later learned was 92 years old and going strong.
“What you want to do on the Thunder boat is make sure you sit in front, or you’ll get soaked,” said Hubert, to me, who wanted to go on the exact opposite of a Thunder boat. “What else do you want to do? There’s a place were you can rent a Harley for four hours and ride around. What about music? There’s a place called Gramp’s I like to go to, for rock and roll.”
“Oh, yeah, Gramps! Yes,” we said, we were absolutely going to Gramps. Hubert flipped over his paper and scribbled another note. “OK, but don’t walk too far in any one direction, you guys stand out, if you know what I mean, you’re very white, you know? You need to be careful. What about jazz? You should go to Churchill’s in Little Haiti, but you need to stay on [whatever street he said], you don’t want to stray up even a block or two, because that’s where they sell crack and weed.” I couldn’t even begin to explain to him that we were from Baltimore, but his mama finally prevailed and Hubert made his exit to our profuse thanks. Next time we’re definitely checking out Churchill’s and maybe even the Key Biscayne beaches where we can “walk among peacocks, ducks, iguanas, etc.” as long as we can stay clear of the alligators, but no, probably not the “nudist beach & fishing,” no.