Is there any more sure route to a wretched wallow in self-loathing than spending the weekend in South Beach among hordes of perfect, thong-bathing-suit-clad, 20-something, smoothly tanned, utterly cellulite-free, Eurosluts? And then coming back home, stepping on the scale, and finding that you have gained 5 pounds over a weekend? I mean, if there is please tell me now so I can avoid it like the plague. Or like allowing my husband to EVER book us a room at a South Beach hotel again. For the next month, no drinking for me! No dessert! I must exercise regularly! And eat fruit and vegetables as snacks rather than snarfing down half a container of homemade strawberry ice cream or double handfuls of praline pecans!
But other than temporarily despising my puffy, lumpy, splotchy 35-year old body, it was a good trip to Miami. Have any of you ever been there? I spent the first 10 years of my life there, but feel now that it's like visiting another country. Everyone speaks either Spanish or French or maybe Portugese in addition to English. Mostly Spanish though, and you would do well to brush up on yours if you'd like to avoid the tourist trap-type places and try some rockin' authentic Cuban food while you're there. You cannot escape the techno and Latin beat soundtrack blaring at you from hidden speakers and window radios. The music is everywhere.
Children are adored, and every busboy, waiter, hostess, and shop clerk to a person fawned over my Bean, chucking her under the chin and cooing at her to make her grin and grab their fingers. But changing tables or children's menus? Not a single one. I'm not kidding. Nor were there any vegetables to be had at any of the restaurants we went to--only meat and fruit and maybe some pasta. Is that the South Beach diet? Because did I mention that I gained 5 pounds in a single weekend?! I'd steer clear of the South Beach diet if I were you.
The landscape is completely foreign to anything you might know here in the regular South, and certainly to anything in New York or Canada or the like. It's perfectly flat and menacingly lush with huge-leaved vines that can bend metal railings and take down limestone walls. Dozens of types of palms with lizards sunning themselves on the trunks, eyeing you beadily as you approach. All those annuals that we gardeners plant in our flower pots and in our borders every year come from there, where they spread huge, swallowing up highway medians and spilling into sidewalks. Giant ficus trees drip branches to the ground where they root and become huge trees themselves, twisting up their parent tree like dysfunctional, eternally glomming children. Seriously, they're fascinatingly grotesque.
Husband and I visited the Fairchild Botanical Garden where Dale Chihuly, a famous glass sculptor, was exhibiting some incredible works. Once Husband gets our photos uploaded to Flickr I'll link to them to you can all see how amazing his stuff is. Oh, and did I mention that we also got to see (and sniff!) the blooming Amorphophallus? So stinky!