I bet I have heard, welcome to Miami a thousand times this week. While a few were sincere, most were uttered sarcastically just after my expressing sticker shock over some extraordinarily high prices. We tried to rent an apartment before we got here, but many of the ads online seemed too good to be true. There were houses and apartments with everything you might want and need. Only problem, they all belonged to little old missionary ladies who only drove them on Sundays, before they were sent to Africa. “Just give me a credit card number to pay the $2000 bucks and you can move in.” I was born in Georgia, but not in Slingblade, Georgia.
So we decided to wait until we got here. To rent an apartment, you need a cosigner, great references and at least that same $2000 bucks. There are at least five middle men, sorry or women, who are all getting their piece of your pie. Every one of them is located at least forty blocks apart, and you must visit each one. Forty blocks of slow moving mind boggling traffic, I might add. When you finally make it through the process, you are taken to a one bedroom apartment that cost a $1000 bucks a month. The mailbox is beautiful, and it’s a good thing because it’s bigger than the apartment which just happens to come with it.
Everyone seems to be from another country or at least from a different ethnic background. They all have their own ideas, based on that background of where the best food can be found. So far they are all right. The food in Miami is unbelievable.
The traffic is crazy, you best have a loud horn and be ready to use it. You must also be prepared for others to blow at you for obeying traffic laws. The person behind you blowing the horn seems not to care that you are stopped at a red-light and behind several others who can’t move. Yesterday Ellie Mae and I made evasive maneuvers as a tractor trailer blasted its horns behind us. I was dismayed, Mary Carmen was frightened, and Ellie Mae was miffed. What passed us was a 1978 Pinto. It was three different colors, was missing a fender and had air horns attached to the roof.
The fast lane on I 95 means exactly that. You better have a car capable of doing over 80, or you best stay out of it. Moving from the fast lane is akin to landing a 747, the slow lane is like the fast lane during rush hour in Atlanta. You know that sound the tires make as a plane comes in to land? Yeah you must come down from supersonic speed and move over into the next lane. You must try not to get run over by the faster cars behind you or the slower cars beside you. All the while you must be blowing the horn, performing sigh language and running through the American Sailors dictionary, end to end. As you do all this, Ellie Mae is reminding you, she is just an old hoopty and Mary Carmen is chastising you for using colorful language, in Spanish.
I don’t care if you speak Spanish or not, you know when you’ve done something wrong. I learned quickly the two most important words any man needs to know. Si Bebe, which is the Spanish equivalent to yes dear, if you’re married, you better know these words. More importantly, you best be able to say them like you mean them. They say to learn a language quickly, you must be immersed in the culture, I am.
As with all large cities there are inherent dangers, but here they have a few extras not found in Atlanta. They have 20 foot Pythons and 11 foot Alligators, both of which are higher on the food chain than six foot country boys. Haven’t met any and hope not to, both make mugging attractive.
We did find a place, we are sharing a house with a delightful Cuban couple. They hardly speak English, but so what, I’ve been told I have the same problem. A properly placed look can convey you are using the wrong fork at dinner. A few Spanish words can convey you are in trouble for using colorful English words. The proper inflection can convey hospitality and warmth from those around you, even when they are in another language.
All jokes aside, I’m loving Miami, the food and weather are great. The bugs are organized, in the union and carry business cards so you’ll know who bit you, but they don’t eat much. The beaches and sunrises are spectacular. What more could a country boy want?
Oh yeah, go Heat, it appears there will be plenty opposing teams to make fun of here.