And we begin!
It was a real good start darkened only slightly by a two-hour wait at Miami airport. I thoroughly recommend anyone who wants to come to the USA not flying in to Miami — go anywhere else, but not Miami. It is a cool city, but the airport sucks.
Figuring on just going to grab something to eat and then coming back to the hotel (after our long flight) we started looking for some direction and were very lucky to get right to the beating heart of the place, and it wasn’t the fake Miami Beach stuff you see on TV: it was Cuban.
Spanish really is the working language of the city. The magazine shaelves are full of all the same titles we have the world over, but they’re all Spanish; cab drivers are shouting “arriba arriba, andale andale!” Speedy Gonzales style and it was to our Cuban concierge that we turned for dinner directions.
We ended up in the back of a mall parking lot in one of the seedier districts at this Cuban restaurant — Casa Juan — and it was one of the best meals and nicest settings I ever ate in. The people were great, the food was cheap and the atmosphere was scintilating. Afterwards we took advice from two old guys who were hanging out in their pick-up truck in front about the best cigars to buy. We learned that you have to get soft ones: Habano Classicos are the best (and instead of costing 25 dollars, these sell for $1 each).
The Cuban guys were real gentlemen: I spoke my best Spanish (which is very bad) and we all got along great. “You know man.. you guys gotta get these cigars man, they’re the ones I smoke, only the best man.” When we said we were going to Atlanta next it was “ahh, you know man… I know Georgia.. I gotta house up there; it’s paaa–aaarrt-teeey man!” They even told us a few things to be careful of, “you know… watch out man. those Cubans, you know, they’s some baaad people you know. You gotta keep your money in your pocket…” But if these guys were anything to go by, they are great people and I’ll gladly hang out with them in front of Casa Juan any day.
The next day we got a car — the only one the shop had and it was a Chrysler 300. Happily we shall travel in style on this trip.