Miami, Here We Come

1/2/08, afternoon

Two blogs ago, I mentioned that we flew out of Kingston’s airport to Miami for our second half of the vacation.  The plane ride was quite eventful.  The only memorable thing was that a gentleman behind us was eating a wonderful smelling dish that he brought on board, but I couldn’t really see what it was.  Right before our plane landed, the flight attendant made her announcement about the temperature, “… and get this, 55 degrees!”  I was estatic.  I had just spent 5 days in humid hot weather that was probably over 85 degrees, so I was looking forward to partaking in the cold spell that affected Florida.

After landing, we rented our car, a Mitsubishi Gallant, and drove to the hotel, the Residence Inn Miami Coconut Grove, located in Coconut Grove, a small city south of Miami.  After we settled down in our room, we went back to the lobby becaus they have a free mini dinner.  This evening, we had lasagna, green salad, and drinks, all free to guests!  What a great start to our vacation!  Beautiful weather, clean hotel room, and free food!  My review of the room is contained here

After we ate, it was time to walk around Coconut Grove.  They have a shopping area called the CocoWalk, which contains many stores and restaurants, and it’s very pretty at night.  We’re in Miami, strolling around, and IT’S FREEZING!  It’s colder than home!  Of course we didn’t bring appropriate clothing; we went into the Gap and found a jacket for Caitlin.  The cashier told us that it was “the coldest day in 30 years!”  We believed him!  We strolled around CocoWalk for about 2 1/2 hours before we decided to leave; unfortunately, we never got hungry because of all the lasagna we ate, so we didn’t get to try any of the restaurants, including Cafe Tu Tu Tango.  Instead, we asked for directions to the nearest supermarket so that we could stock our refrigerators and cabinets with goodies.  We found the Milam’s supermarket next door to Walgreens.  First we went to Walgreens to buy some Bactine… remember those mosquito bites… then we went to Milam’s for some fruit, milk, and other snacks.

Afterwards, we returned to our hotel and decided to tackle the laundry!  Of course, Angela, my cousin’s housekeeper, washed some of our clothes, but we had two more loads of laundry, so we spent the next 90 minutes doing laundry at the hotel before retiring for the night.

Musings of Jamaica

Before I move onto Miami, which is more a series of visiting attractions anyway, I wanted to share my thoughts of what I learned from my wonderful visit to Kingston.

Mosquitos:  they’re blood thirsty!  Within 24 hours of arriving, I looked at both of my legs and saw lots of bites.  I didn’t know how many until I counted!  I had over 55 bites!  Towards the end of my visit, my cousin’s boyfriend shared about how he normally is the one who gets bitten by mosquito but not recently, then how he cornered this mosquito in the bathroom and proceeded to kill it, and this mosquito was so full of blood that flying was difficult.  Then he smashed it and “a pint” of blood came squirting out.  I yelled, “Hey, that’s the mosquito that bit me!”  Thank you for avenging me!

It always fits:  Many of the roads are pretty tight for two cars going in different directions, but no matter how tight it is, it always fits!  Some streets are as narrow as our one way streets, clearly not made for two lanes.  There were times when my cousin was driving, that there was probably one inch between her and the other driver, and it always fits.  One of the more memorable time was when she drove into the mission, while another person was driving out.  Of course I was making a face, like an accident was going to happen, but in the back seat, I hear my daughter say, “Mom, it’s okay.  It always fits!”  The other thing I noticed about the drivers in Jamaica is that they honk at each other a lot, which we don’t do here, but they aren’t mad at each other, like they ARE here!  They don’t say anything to you; they just honk and go their merry way, whereas in America, they may or may not honk at you, but you can tell by the faces that the drivers are angrily screaming obscenities!  It’s just much more relaxed.

Entrepreneuralship:  Several times a year, I make a contribution to an organization that gives out microloans to people in third world countries.  It’s amazing what types of small business people go into, from knitting gloves to raising chickens.  In Jamaica, people sell drinks, shrimp, fruits, placemats, everything by the roadside or in small little storefronts, fueled by the desire to earn money for them and their families.  Replace the people with different nationalities, Mexican and Chinese for example, and it looks just like their respective countries.  Sort of visually shows that we are all the same.  I remember when my dad suggested that he use his garage to sell things, not like garage sales but formal setting up shop.  Of course where he lived, there were strict zoning laws, and someone would call the police, but there’s this entrepreneural spirit that certain people have… that I don’t have.

Taking Life Easy:  it’s funny that I can type an email, have a conversation over the phone, and think of how to structure my next project all at the same time, yet… here’s a secret, I can’t really walk and talk at the same time!  In Jamaica, maybe because I was on vacation, I didn’t have to multi-task.  I got up around 9:00 in the morning, had breakfast about 10, hung around for a while, then left for our event of the day around 11:00, have lunch, do some other things, and get home by 4:00 to rest up for dinner.  Before dinner, we would have a drink (that’s non-alcoholic!) and talk at the table before dinner.  After dinner, we’d have dessert or more drinks and then talk some more before retiring back to our room about 9:00 p.m.  What a life!  On any given Saturday here, we would start off from 10:15 a.m. and probably not get back home until 8:00 p.m. and still have not accomplished what we wanted to do.  Although we always eat at the dinner table as a family, it would be good to establish some table time before and after dinner.

Food Consumption:  Umm, we eat a lot… I’m talking about quantity.  One of the great things about staying at people’s houses is to see how they live and especially to see what good things they do that you can adopt.  One of the things I’ve noticed is that we eat a lot of protein (whether it’s chicken or beef), and we eat a lot.  My cousin said that she can fit her clothes from 25 years ago.  Unfortunately, none of us can say that.  Their typical dinner might be a meatless pasta.  In my pasta, the main ingredient … is the protein!   One of the first things we did when we came home was to buy smaller plates.  It really does make a difference.  Yes, we get seconds… but we used to get seconds before too (on our large plates).  I know we are eating less.

What I’d Like:  My cousin has a housecleaner… who also washes the cars! – a gardener, and a driver.  When we came home, we all said, “I want a maid, a gardener, and a driver.”  Then Daniel and I looked at each other, “Hey, I am the maid, and you are the driver.”  Then we all looked at Caitlin, “Hey, you have a maid and a driver!” at which point she looked away and pretended she didn’t know we were talking about.

Moving onto Miami…