Swimming Between Thunderstorms

Amtrak Adventure 10/31 (about October 9th, 2021)

Yesterday was our only full day in the Miami area; we got here two days ago, and fly out this morning (before this will be sent, even, at ~7 AM!).

We started off by grabbing lunch in Hialeah—a smaller city just NW of Miami that has incredibly dense Hispanic (96%) and Cuban (73%) populations—with our friend Enrique, who was at the Edyfi house we organized in CA this summer! It was good to see his neck of the woods and catch up after the last few months.

He introduced us to Flanigan’s, a South Florida-native chain restaurant; I ordered their specialty baby back ribs, and was completely blown away. It was literally “falling off the bone” tender: whenever I tore off (no need for a knife) and picked up each rib, half of its meat would immediately fall back onto the plate! Truly unbelievable.

After saying goodbye, we headed over to Miami Beach to see what all the hype is about. It was pretty much deserted, because we’d timed it perfectly to arrive between two storms, the former of which you can see below:

It’s an amazing beach. The air is warm, the ocean feels like bathwater, the sand is just right underfoot… it’s very clear what all the excitement is about. Our time there didn’t last long, though: about 15 minutes after we hopped in, a thunderclap announced the arrival of the second storm, and we retreated to dry(er) land.

While the physical parts of Miami Beach are nice, the social and economic themes don’t appeal to us nearly as much. The area we saw was mostly populated by seasoned partygoers, happy among dozens of bars, clubs, and overpriced restaurants—not really our vibe, so we decided to just head back to our Airbnb.

(We wanted to visit the Miami Beach Regional Library on our way out—a bit more our style—but it would’ve been closed by the time we got there! ☹️)

Walking home from the bus, we saw a golf cart dealership, which strikes me as very Floridian; it’s an extremely flat state, even flatter than Kansas, and perception bears this out. I’d be surprised if we gained 100 total feet of elevation after leaving the train.

Speaking of our Airbnb, it’s quite the experience. Earth ‘n’ Us Farm is the place; they claim to be “the only urban farm in Miami,” though the vibe it gives off is more of a combination of “zoo,” “summer camp,” and “commune.”

A rooster, about 20 cats, and countless lizards and spiders roam the property; there are also 9 pigs, an emu, a ton of chickens, and we thought we heard a few parrots the first evening we were here. Our abode is one of many; some residents are permanent, while some (like us) come through Airbnb. There are a few shared spaces under roofs among plants and animals; one for laundry, one as a kitchen, another which might be used as a low-capacity restaurant sometimes.

The new-age messaging abounds, as well: our guest check-in booklet informs us alongside the WiFi password that the owners “have been Vegans since 2010,” and there’s a sheet of free PETA stickers in the back for visitors to take. Their website details how “drum circles are held… to celebrate and honor the full moon.” And so on.

During the day, it’s open to the public! A sign right next to our door reminds those giving school tours to close the gate to the chicken coop promptly after using it, so we imagine they give those regularly too.

In short, this “farm” seems more optimized in its design for tourists and visitors than actual production; accordingly, it’s an interesting place to stay (if you ignore the occasional cockroach or lizard scurrying across the ceiling, or the uneven staircase designed for 5’4” people). Mattea wants to come back; I wouldn’t mind either.

If you’re ever looking for a place in Miami with some character, check it out!

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