South Beach

I write this as we sit in the Nassau airport domestic departure terminal waiting for our next flight on to Exuma. We're definitely on Island Time now--things already seem to be moving slower for better or worse. South Beach has a bit of the same feel as long as you're not driving. Traffic in South Beach and Miami is manic and fast paced. I like to be in a place without a car sometimes. The car has its obvious benefits of flexibility and packing space, but it makes your trip much more stressful. As long as you're in the right mindset, waiting for the next bus, train, or ferry to come can provide a nice moment of relaxation.

South Beach was an amazing place to visit. I've heard that the saying goes that one of the nicest things about Miami Beach is that it is so close to the US. It really seems true to me--it isn't like any place I've ever been in the US. We heard more people speaking Spanish, Russian, French and German than we did English on the street.

I think that the design of the space has a lot to do with the city's vibe as well. The streets are all very walkable and much safer than they used to be. People walk everywhere all hours of the day and night, and there are shops and restaurants within a mile of any place you could live. Urban planners take note. The city is beautiful as well. Large portions of the town are on the National Historic Registry so that developers cannot come in to raze the charming art deco buildings in favor of ill concieved condo highrises. Every green space is covered in tropical plants and every building painted with a mix of bright island colors and muted pastels.

I was reading in a travel guide from 1999 about how the charm of South Beach was coming to an end because it had been "discovered." The proof was in the shopping--Gap had opened up next to all the independent clothing stores on Lincoln Rd. There is certainly a good number of chain box stores and hokey trinket shops that have wriggled their way into the area, but the city has certainly done something right to maintain its integrity--at least to a much greater extent than most tourist destinations do.

And this is all not even to mention that they have the best Spanish food that I have tasted outside of Spain. We had calamari and shrimp made in the spanish way that tasted better than those that we had in Spain. Also, we ate the biggest shrimp I have ever seen in my life. I would guess they would have been 8" long stetched out from tip to tail. And as a bonus, they were fantastic tasting. It was really a bizzare experience--sitting outside on a lively street corner, eating Spanish food, drinking sangria, and hearing people speak Spanish all around us. I could have swore we were back on the Camino.

We completely skipped out on the other big part of South Beach--the legendary party scene. This time we opted instead to save our money and relax on the beach. We earned a couple of days of camping on the beach after Exuma with our money saved. After all, I have a feeling that we will be back next year for the Ultra Music Festival...

We don't have any wifi here in the airport (at least none that works--there is a wifi network called "Nassau Airport Free Wifi" that doesn't seem to work at all), so we will probably already be on Exuma or back in the US before I post this. Either way, this place seems to make me a little less concerned about getting things done in a timely manner.

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