Recently having completed my Endless Roaming around the world for 2019, I’m now back in Sydney biding my time until I can get back out there again. Over the past 20 years I have been around the world a few times and have written about this for my friends to read and posted photos so now Ill be posting these past adventures through my blog. Starting off is my first adventure across the USA in 2012 when I rented a Ford Mustang and hit the open road for around 6 weeks across the country. Hope you enjoy the read.
In Australia I much like my fellow Aussies have been bombarded by American television shows such as Miami Vice and Dexter, so as I boarded my flight out of Haiti I had certain expectations what Miami would be like. The last time I’d visited the United States was with my Mum and Granny back in 1983, so I was really excited to be back again. I’d booked myself into a “party” hostel on South Beach, which is the main tourist hub with people from everywhere descending upon its night clubs for drinks and parties. The hostel was at capacity, full of international travelers with a singular focus having a good time. This was not aligned necessarily with what I like about travel, nature, museums, long distance driving, but it was difficult not to get swept away with the atmosphere and I really like beer. So I sucked it up and joined in the revelry for the five nights I’d booked there.
A few hours after arriving, the party atmosphere was interrupted by hearing gunshots only a few blocks away. The noise was loud enough that all the conversations stopped and cause alarm, but after a few minutes the atmosphere returned to normal, alcohol can moderate all levels of panic. A few hours later the TV news informed the hostel that police had killed the Miami cannibal (and people thought my visit to Haiti sounded dangerous what the??). The Miami Cannibal was a homeless man on “Bath Salts” shot by police after he brutally attacked another homeless man. This included the use of bath salts and the victim’s eyes and face being bitten off and eaten. The shooting gained world notoriety because of its brutal nature. My first impression of TV’s Dexter was ringing true. After the cannibal killing I finished my beer and headed to bed content in knowing the world was safe from roaming people eaters. This was the news story as on CNN at the time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AzblS4Fatk
The following morning the hostel had booked me on a tour of the Florida Everglades, a “Gator” Park or alligator, a very different kind of man-eater to a cannibal. The tour involved riding on an airboat through swamp land watching alligators in the wild and wild birds and reptiles. After the previous evening, what better way to spend the day with large, vicious reptiles. The tour was excellent; the guides were very knowledgeable on the local wildlife and pointed out many of the attractions (gators, crocs, snakes)the highlight, however, was the boat itself, a large tin boat connected to a fan on the rear that was almost equal in size of the boat itself with the boatmen sitting perched a metre in the air. It was my first time on a boat like this. It was an awesome experience. The wildlife was amazing but not scary, I am an Australian and it’s not the first time I’ve seen crocodiles, “scary” snakes or whatever. The only negative I was not aware I should have brought some bug spray to protect me from the mosquitoes, I came off the boat covered in bites including my face temporarily swelling up. I looked like a victim of a plague, however I was introduced to key lime pie, so delicious.
That night I attended the NBA playoff final game 2, Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics. A few backpackers at the hostel asked if I wanted to join them attending the game. I am not a basketball fan but readily agreed as I love sporting competition and what a better way to experience an iconic American event than a playoff final.The game was in downtown Miami on Biscayne Bay, a modern shopping district on the water and would later learn very different to South Beach which Id not made to it to just as yet. The stadium was at capacity and we had very good seats considering we purchased them off an online scalper; the game went to extra time in Miami managing victory at the end. The crowd got really involved with people dancing and music blaring out the PA system to put them into a frenzy. As an Australian Rules Football spectator, this was not typical behaviour for me and I could not bring myself to “dance”. I got the distinct impression that a lot of spectators were more interested in dancing and getting on the “Jumbotron” TV than the supporting team. This was pointed out to me by a heavily tattooed Boston supporter cursing the crowd, I seemed to have more in common with the Boston fan than the frenzied Miami crowd.
The following day I went on a tour of the Florida Keys, a 15 hour round trip from the hostel to the town of Key West. In retrospect I should of probably booked accommodation in Key West for the evening before returning probably should have stayed there for the evening, but I was running out of time to experience Miami’s famed nightclub scene. The drive itself involved a series of bridges connected by small sand islands towns. These towns mostly were small and appeared to be only surf shacks and a few scattered fishing trawlers. Key West is the most southerly point in the United States and approximately 50 miles from the island of Cuba. It’s a tourist town, lots of shopping arcades, outdoor bars and triple story wood panelled houses painted in bright colours lining the streets. Three famous attractions include Harry S Truman’s Whitehouse, Ernest Hemingway House and the Southernmost Point. I joined the queue to get a photo with the Southernmost Point, spent an hour at the beach and then headed back to Miami. As I said I should have stayed the night but maybe Ill get back there one day, Key West looked like it has a decent nightlife itself
South Beach is a series of art deco building, multi-storied, dazzling colours and most which are nightclubs with outdoor beer gardens, each with sound systems playing various forms of dance music. I learned a lot of the architecture owes its roots to Miami’s Cuban heritage, very colourful. Over the road was a series of parks and walkways and the beach. There were people scattered everywhere, also dressed bright in colourful colours in various alcoholic states. The hostel arranged nightclub evenings which involved arranging SUV Limo party busses and going to three venues per evening. First onto a quiet bar to socialise and drink cheaply, the second a disco / bar where the drinks were not so cheap and then if still standing onto a super-club with priority queuing and very expensive drinks. The last club had a self-pronounced world class DJ with fantastic music, and it was great for people watching. The drink prices reflected this and after a few hours I headed back to the hostel to socialise. I did this for three nights and the rest of my stay kind of merged into one long party.
When not in a nightclub or socialising at the hostel, I spent my time on South Beach soaking up the sun and going for a swim. The sand was crystal white and the ocean flat and bright blue; it was all very calming. The beach was seemingly endless to my left and right and there was plenty of personal space or socialising depending on what I felt like. Nearby there was plenty of shopping if in the need for more fashionable clothing for experiencing Miami nightlife. Pastel colours and brand name clothes are not really my taste, which is more checkered shirts, blue denim and tattoos, Miami embraces everyone however. There are also plenty of budget stores, the area where I was staying, also some homeless and a cannibal.
I enjoyed my time in Miami, Id been Roaming through Central America and Haiti for a few months which I will Blog about this another time. It was great to finally make it Stateside after so many years’ absence. I enjoyed visiting alligators, attending my first basketball game and spending a little time in Florida Keys. Most of all, I enjoyed the socialising at the hostel with backpackers from different countries. Together we discovered Miami nightlife together and experiencing it’s seemingly “Endless” party. Next I’d be leaving USA with a flight over the border to Canada. Hope you enjoyed the blog and as always feedback welcome.