Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Red, white and blue

This past weekend was spent exploring Fort Lauderdale in Florida with Captain Phil.  Right away, as I looked out of the airplane windows, I realized I was not in Kansas anymore.  The population of the South Florida Metropolitan area (Miami-Ft Lauderdale-Pompano Beach) is 5.5 million, almost twice all of Jamaica. The amount of cars, houses, shops and people in the customs line at the airport was all many more than what I've become accustomed to in sleepy little Mobay.

Being in the US was oddly familiar, even though I'd never been to Ft Lauderdale before. It is one of the charms and, perversely, annoyances of so much of North America is that you will see the same stores, eat the same kinds of foods and stay in hotel rooms that look exactly like the one you stayed in somewhere else. For a weekend, however, it was fun to feel "at home."

One of the highlights for me was all the different kinds of food we could eat.  Jamaica has good food, it just doesn't have a wide range on culinary options, especially in Montego Bay (Kingston has a better diversity of food.) In Florida we ate at a Mexican restaurant, a bakery cafe, a frozen yogurt shop, a seafood restaurant, an Italian place and an Irish pub (okay, we just drank Guinness there.) We would have eaten at more places if we hadn't run out of meals!

Caesars at the Lauderdale Grill - their signature drink

View looking south on the beach...

View looking north.
As you can see, the beach went on almost forever!  There was lots of public access, and we walked partway down, but never seemed to get any closer to the end.  There was quite a bit of surf, and signs were posted to watch out for the undertow and not to go too far out.

They had marked off areas where the sea turtles lay their eggs. People were really good about observing these spots, although one dad was forever having to chase his toddler back out again.

A colourful wall representing what the US does best - shopping!  We got lots of important bits and pieces, things that you can't find or are quite expensive in Jamaica. There are a ton of stores focused on the yachting life in Ft. Lauderdale.  We spent a long time in a giant West Marine store, which is kind of the Ikea equivalent for sailing.

People-watching on the strip across from the beach - it was a bustling Saturday night out.
Wine, good company, some olives - what else does one need?

The Ft. Lauderdale people-in-charge-of-amusing-tourists folks had a Saturday night thing for the months of July and August - 20 bands, 20 vendors.  Sometimes the restaurants didn't turn off their own music so between the musicians and the crowd, it got noisy.  Below was a traveling band that came down the sidewalk with much fanfare.  We also saw steel drums, Japanese drumming, and a rather timid magician who wasn't doing well with so much competition.

We spent a considerable amount of time just chillin' in the hotel room.  Those of you that have been to one of my many places, know that tv is a novelty I live without, (and there is none on the boat either) so we had lots of fun channel surfing.

End of the day zen
Hotel picnic - wine, bread, cheese, grapes, cherry tomatoes, pastrami and chocolate - mmmmmm!
Arrived back in Jamaica on Monday.  For all my complaining about the heat these days, I am glad to be back in a place where the windows open and you don't need a parka to walk through the lobby. This week I have a fair number of work projects on the go, and am heading back to Kingston at the end of the week for more meetings and volunteer festivities.

Back to normal now - well, sort of...

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