Monday, April 13, 2009

Travelling on the cheap and other Miami reflections.

We were in Miami for about 10 days and came back on Friday. We Intended to go to New York but the state of our finances kept us within the city’s limits, which was nice in its own way. It’s always more challenging to discover a place on a tight budget that splash your way through a city. I feel that the more money you have to spend the easier it is to bypass life’s real grit. Walking, skateboarding and public transport were our lot most of the time; in the evening my dad would take us on trips with his office car and we’d discover the more glamorous side of Miami, which I can’t say we identified with.
I actually enjoyed Miami as a city. The vegetation is amazing. I thought it was also a place of reflection (as in mirror reflection, not intellectual), everything reflects something else; it makes it difficult to distinguish between the original and the one in the mirror. Going on foot, you always end up in places sensible tourists try avoid. That was nice. Seeing places with less mirrors and more dust; peeping behind the glitz. The architecture is also a joyous chaos of low shacks, skyscrapers, luxurious villas and empty plots of land. Even at the heart of the city (and I don’t mean South Beach), it looks as though it is unfinished.
From a European perspective, Sim City has always had a touch of fakeness about it; with its square angles and large causeways, nothing like the medieval town that lies at the heart of most cities. It makes a lot more sense once you have seen Miami. Even Manhattan is too dense to translate well to Sim City; perhaps I should have visited Brooklyn or Queens.
Amongst the things we tried to do whilst there was to find out about local community gardens (as in vegetable garden). It took a while but we found one; brand new with blogs and all. Jeanette was very excited about it so we went to see it, expecting something amazing. After all it is a very good climate to grow your own food. We took a train and walked a while and finally there it was. On a tiny parcel laid a few raised boxes! So that was it, it was neat and tidy but hardly impressive. I suppose it’s a start. In a way I can see how Miami remains a relatively young city, still hosting a large proportion of first generation migrants, who didn’t make it to the city to “grow their own”.