The deco delights of South Beach are as delightful in all their wedding cake pastels as I had hoped. Easy to imagine this town in it’s roaring twenties as the American Riviera. The villas lining the back-waters, complete with private moorings, odes to Italianate grandeur. One family homes, once uber modern apartments blocks with alternate angular and undulating deco lines. In stark contrast, the new sprawling towers on the opposite side of the street jutting up along the oceanic landscape, resorts and condos, sparkle like urban dinosaurs in the bright Miami sun.
South Beachers are partiers. By lunchtime a palpable lilt to the promenaders, many of which clad in little more than incy wincy teeny weeny bikinis. After inhaling half a chicken wrap big enough to feed a family (South Beach diet anyone?!) I slunk into the granite bathrooms of The Clevelander, to transform myself into my Sardinian alter ego, a comedy character I am developing into a one woman show, filming her American adventures alongside ours. I catch a pair of sun lizards lounging poolside in their shimmery two-piece beside DJ’s podium where revellers will likely welcome the dawn. Back at the table a nearby customer excuses herself, explains she is nosey (takes one to know one) and asks me what on earth I am doing and why. I describe my project then coerce her and her holiday attired girlfriends to be filmed making friends with my strange Sardinian woman.
My boys and I (big on camera one, small on camera two) hit the streets coercing other revellers to dance, hit volleyball, throw football and generally cavort. South Beach-ers are good sports. One chap, Jamaica cool in tight white vest and ironed jeans insisted on taking several photos amongst the passing rollerbladers. A veiled muslim lady gives me a complicit nod of recognition. I think she has mistaken my headscarf for a veil. I feel like a fraud. At the waters edge it took no more than a moustache’d grin to persuade the lifeguards to pose. Just before I dove in. Fully clothed.
Later I strip down to my swimsuit, wipe off my painted facial hair and take in my surroundings, boy flip flapping in my peripheral at the feet of the mostly African American/Caribbean crowd. Much as it saddens me, I have never been around a group of Caucasian women so obviously happy in their skin. Of the gamut of body shapes I spy none tugging at their suit, hints of negative body image leaking out of their movements. Instead, laughter. Lots of it. Carefree beach behaviour I find deeply affirming. The Caucasians, inconspicuous not so much because of their taut frames (some on that diet after all), but more for the way they carried those frames along the beach.
Boy and I then make a mad dash to dad, who is holding up traffic on Ocean drive, jump into our car (along with half the beach) and pick up grandma at the airport. I waited eagerly at the arrivals window, my hair doing a fine impression of seaweed, whilst she patiently sat behind me, farcically looking in the opposite direction. Family tradition. Off Dolphin expressway, we then stop to snap a picture of Dad outside Joe Allen’s (favourite London/New York haunt) and stumble across a Sardinian restaurant on the opposite corner. Antipasti, pasta and myrtle liqueur later we have our Mediterranean fix. I have decided to take me some of that Miami buzz in my case to upstate New York next week. Along with as many mangoes as care to fall at our door.