Florida Keys and Everglade Photos - 1998
SUN 1.25.98

Our final day, and all my "must dos" had been done. We finished off the leftover mahi-mahi, packed up the car, took one last look at the dock and water, and headed out. On the way off Key Largo we saw the Caribbean Club, the interior used for Casablanca. There were lots of kingfishers with their fluffy heads on the telephone lines back north. Ibis and heron fished on the side of the road. Now that we knew what a huge variety of loose birds were near the rehab center, we noticed them all flying and sitting near that spot on Route 1.

Off the Keys onto the mainland, through the swamps and hammock-islands, past many-trunked mangroves. We drove back up into Miami and came off the highway on the outskirts to drive "through the streets" (something warned against in the info Dollar car rental gave us). We "were" Miami Vice.

South Miami is pretty amazing. Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican Republic, Portuguese, Nicaraguan restaurants. Even a Bavarian restaurant. Where all the houses along 1 between Miami and the Keys were run down with man-high fences around the property and gates at the doors, these were just flat block buildings, rarely windowed, chained doors. Lots of Mustangs! There was even a Pizza Wok.

Up to see the Orange Bowl, then to the beach, we thought. Miami Beach is actually an off-shore island. We saw all the huge tour ships, crossed a bridge and saw a toll booth ahead. "Passports ready," it said. Uh oh. They let us turn around. We could see the Hard Rock Cafe from there. Back across the middle and up to Miami Beach (really). *poof* there were nice houses, nice cars, although nothing extravagant. Some were on the water with sailboats in the docks. Still, though, the stores were "grocerias" and the restaurants ethnic. Then the hotels began. A lovely blue pagoda for Benihana, then squashed together, hotel after hotel. You could barely see the ocean between them. Nothing on the inland side of the island - just a few low houses - but a solid wall of hotels to the east.

What did hotel visitors do? Walk to their beach, walk in and eat at the hotel's restaurant? We didn't see anyone on the streets or anything for them to do.

Next through the middle of Miami to learn more about the intriguing and varied lives of its inhabitants. Where did the middle class live? Even the lower-middle-class? Was there none? To the south was projects up to the swamp. To the east, ocean. To the west, miles and miles of tomato, cucumber, squash and the associated tiny worker homes, and then swamp. Maybe to the north, the only direction we didn't roam. Certainly not in its middle - we found only run down and unhappy people.

To the airport, on the plane, and home again, with Bob only catching bits of superbowl in between plane rides. Home to 30 degree weather and a bird and two cats who missed us very much!! And a shooting on the T (subway), apparently, right at the airport stop. Danger lurks everywhere.

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