02.07.2010 - 05.07.2010 32 °C
This will be the first time that I use just one entry to account for what I've been upto in a particular place. This is fundamentally because, as will become pretty clear, I did very little.
Anyway, I made my way to Miami a day earlier than I originally thought I would. The great thing about making my travels up as I go is that if there's a place I feel I've spent enough time in, I can just move on. So with that, for the time being it was goodbye to Georgia and Savannah. My train to Florida was exceptionally early and I had to be up at 5.30am. I had anticiapted that my proper planning would have prevented piss poor performance, but even though I arranged for a taxi to pick me up, it didn't show until 20 minutes before the train's departure from Amtrak station. It was a speedy journey, which earned an appropriate tip!
This was a long journey and as before I spent a considerable part of it in the Cafe Car. I met a very interesting man, Leonard, and his family who were visiting Miami for 4th July. He offered another fascinating insight into life in America and it would take too long to copy here the notes I made on the conversations we had. Towards the end of the journey I met a woman who worked as a legal clerk in the Florida courts. We discussed the appropriateness of electing the judiciary and the difficulties she felt America was facing. It was discouraging to hear her link those difficulties to people of other ethnicities, but this theme of race has been recurring since I started my travels and is not something new. I don't think it's the right time to note my thoughts on it now, perhaps when I've had time to completly travel the United States and consider what I've observed. But, for the time being - I don't think the people I've met are racist, I think that's a too simplictic explanation of why they link their concerns to race (just as their linking the problems with other communities itself is a too simplistic account for America's problems). I'm of the view that we are informed by our experiences - just as we once considered the world to be flat, perhaps these people I have met are yet to test the horizons?
Since I had decided that Miami would be my 4th July destination (I never originally planned to visit Florida, afterall it is pretty much the apendix of the United States) countless people have told me how they envied me going there. For me, getting to Miami marked a significant milestone - I had now pretty much travelled the entire Eastern seaboard of the United States, from the roacky Maine coast to the white sands of south Florida.
My trip to Miami was always going to be a chance for me to recover from the last four and a half weeks of travel. That meant days on the beach, in the sea and in the pool (I don't do that very often!). It really was relaxing to just lie and do nothing so that's what I did. The sea was warm and the weather was hot, which was just what I needed.
A number of people have asked if I enjoyed Miami, their questions leading to the conclusion that I might not have done. They are right in the sense that Miami is generally an artificial place and unless you are able to escape to the Keys or Everglades there isn't much to see or do. But, whether you enjoy it or not depends on what you expect and what you want to do. I knew I wouldn't be getting culture and I went there to do nothing - so yes I enjoyed it.
The real highlight of my time here was the reason I chose Miami - to celebrate our independence from the United States and America's 234th birthday. There is a lot to celebrate, after all we've avoided Dunkin' Donuts, Wendy's and supersize waistlines. I spent the evening with people from the UK on South Beach. At about 8pm an orchestra struck up with patriotic music and shortly after nighfall the fireworks began. They were some of the best I've seen and, stood underneath a palm tree craning my neck skywards, I was pretty content.
So happy birthday America, happy birthday ...