Sunday, March 1, 2015

Simple Life in South Beach, Miami

Simple Life's anchorage for over a month in Sunset Lake. Miami
the orange arrow is pointing toward Simple Life
Photo by Bentley Smith

      For those friends who are "holed up" in New England dealing with mounds of snow and ice we sympathize. We used to spend winters there and remember it all too well.  This winter Joe and I appreciate that weather here in South Florida has been better than what you've endured, but we too have had our bouts with rough situations this season. Albeit no shoveling involved, but cold weather fronts have been relentless ushering in higher than normal winds along with cold fronts that tend to keep boaters stateside…and in all fairness it was 40 degrees in Miami Beach a week ago.

The thong. A popular trend in fashion
on South Beach

The chaos of South Beach


One of our favorite hang outs at happy hour on
Espanola Way
Hair stylist from
Contesta Rockhair
on Espanola Way
     One of the most FAQ's by friends and non boaters has been, "Do you guys ever get caught in storms at sea?"


Venus of South Beach in a gallery on Lincoln Road
     The answer…"Not if we can help it." So, we wait, monitor weather, listen to weather router Chris Parker's Marine Weather Center's forecast and hope for a break in the conditions. As a result of these difficult weather patterns our routine each morning begin with the alarm at 6:30 AM. Time to tune the SSB (Single Sideband radio) to Chris Parker's Bahamas and Gulf Stream crossing forecast. This probably sounds like a ridiculous thing to do to those of you who live on land. But those of us who live on the ocean do this religiously each day. In a way it's somewhat entertaining. Chris has developed quite an interesting array of adjectives to describe some of these weather events. Horrendous, ugly, rough, less bad than, are some of his favorites. We listen, jot down notes, coordinates, wind degrees which eventually allow us to evaluate weather conditions and decide on our options. Believe it or not listening day after day can be stressful. Self imposed stress, but none the less stressful. Should we move, not move, what if an unexpected front pops up sooner than the forecast indicates and onward. Just imagine having to worry that your house might drift away, possibly bang into another house in the process and possibly end up in a different neighborhood during the night. That's the kind of weather we've had most of this winter.

Welcome to Little Havana
     This season Simple Life along with a large number of boats have been anchored in South Beach, Miami awaiting a favorable crossing to the Bahamas. Not a bad place to be held hostage so to speak. Although, at times we felt we'd become permanent residents. When staff in the local Publix Supermarket begin recognizing you it's time to move on. While in SoBe we took a side trip via public transit to Little Havana in Miami. After one bus transfer we arrived in the heart of historic Calle Ocho (8th Street). It's somewhat of a neighborhood on the verge of marginal gentrification. There are a few restaurants, galleries, cigar factories, and poqito ventanas (small street side windows) where Cuban coffee is doled out in small styrofoam cups along with mini cups for sharing. This is the heartbeat of historic Little Havana where thousands of Cubans emigrated to the US during and after the revolution in the early 1960's.
The main street in Little Havana Calle Ocho ( 8th Street)
notice the domino tiles in the mosaic

     Many of the original Cuban immigrants still call this part of Miami home. Some have moved elsewhere in Miami, but still gather each day in Domino Park for a rousing and often raucous game of dominos.

Seasoned domino players at Domino Park, Little Havana

      While visiting we met a few Cuban Americans who were children when they emigrated along with their families in the early 1960's. I asked one woman how she and other Cuban's of her generation felt about current political policies between the US and Cuba and the possibility of lifting travel ban restrictions. She eloquently explained that most Cubans who came to the US in the 1960's were not in favor because the old regime would still be in power. Most believe it will not benefit the Cuban majority and suspect it will only benefit wealthy businessmen. She was quite adamant and said she would never return to Cuba. It had been 53 years since she left Cuba with the clothes on her back. It was an enlightening conversation only to be interrupted when she was summoned to play dominos with her team at the table.

Playing a tile

Hands of dominos.

      After a delicious lunch at a Cuban restaurant, we crossed Calle Ocho for homemade Cuban ice cream at Azucar it was nearly time to catch the 208 back to the transfer station for the 321 back to South Beach. Some of our best excursions seem to occur when we've been holed up in port.
Ice cream at Azucar with Cuban
singer Celia Cruz looking over us.

     Sailing Simple Life even at anchor in a harbor always seems to offer unexpected opportunities for extraordinary experiences.
Mural on the outside wall of the Little Havana Cigar Factory

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