A LOT of things are available in Miami. I took a short walk from the hotel and every kind of vice was on offer. Strip joints, video rooms, bong shops, hookah, bars, restaurants, clothes, jewellery. Whatever your pleasure. It's here. And more often than not it's accompanied by a giant picture and someone offering a special discount.
On first impressions, it doesn't seem like a well-behaved town. (Boston, for example, is a well-behaved town. The place is well-dressed, considerate, refined, with excellent table manners.)
Miami on the other hand feels like it's just been to a tanning salon, done a few push ups, slammed a couple of shots, and is primed for a big night out. The Porsche count is unnaturally high, there's cocktails the size of buckets and every second arm, leg, shoulder, bicep, wrist, ankle, back, thigh (and so on) has a tattoo (or more accurately a montage of tattoos). Add to that the weather - it's either stinking hot or pouring rain- and it can quickly become too much. Especially for a wide-eyed foreigner living on $40 a day.
So, in search of respite, I went to the beach.
I've lived nearly my entire life next to the sea. But this was my first dip in the Atlantic Ocean. And what an ocean it is. So warm, so calm, so relaxing. So unlike Miami.
I walked in and I knew I had found my refuge. All thoughts of consumption and suggestion were washed away.
Certainly, this was no Aussie beach. This ocean was so well mannered. No undertow trying to pull your shorts off, no shore-break slapping you in the face and dumping you onto the ocean floor. No rip-tides dragging you out, no ever-present fear of shark attack, no surfers to avoid.
This beach is beautiful and welcoming. The waves roll in in miniature form. (True, you can't catch them, but why would you want to, this ocean is for relaxing.) And there's no sudden drop off, just a gentle decline into the salty blue water.
I glided in, did a few dozen strokes and turned to look at the shore. What a great way to look at Miami. The apartment towers next to the art deco blocks. The stars and stripes flying in the on-shore breeze.
And then it started to rain. Perfect droplets pounding the ocean. What a place to ride out the storm.