Date: 29 April 2017.
Location: grizzly London, back from sunny Miami.
So, Miami is amazing, guys.
The Miamians are strident in their professions that there’s Florida and there’s Miami. I have to agree. In fact, it feels a bit like there’s the US and there’s Miami.
It’s lush in a way I hadn’t expected, reminiscent of neighboring Louisiana and the bayou.
It’s beautifully, flamboyantly cliché. Ricky Martin has a house on one of the wide, green-canopied avenues. His music plays here more than is merited.
It’s politically progressive like the East Coast.
It has the Hispanic chaos of Spain.
It has the wonderful coffee of — Cuba (I’m told – by Cubans – and have to believe as I’m yet to go). The cortadito and colada coffees here, though, are strong and dark and good.
I’m there for work so don’t get to explore any of these things in any meaningful manner but we do cram a lot in over five days around our, on average, three hours of sleep a night. We play a game of beach volleyball on South Beach. We meet a lot of amazingly cool but very Miami girls (generalising cruelly here: they’re educated but yet so Miami-centric: I talk to one about Iceland and another, overhearing, asks if that’s a real place because she thought it was make believe, like Atlantis). We eat Cuban fusion (Cuban sandwich spring rolls!) at Sons Cubanos in swanky Coral Gables. I purchase my first Lilly Pulitzer dress at Merrick Park, an outdoor mall that looks like it was designed by and for Cher Horowitz. We eat actual, heart-stopping lay goodCuban sandwiches at Larios on the Beach, the restaurant owned by the famous Estefans. We go to dinner on what we dub “Peggy Island” — named for out wealthy hostess who has a penthouse suite, complete with balconies on two sides, in one of the handful of exclusive apartment blocks on one of the handful of exclusive little island-egged above South Beach. We practice bad Spanish. We breakfast at a local Venezuelan bakery and a I briefly wonder how I’ll go on living without Don Pan’s arepas in the morning.
In between we rehearse our pitch for work tirelessly, get the tech to work, practise working with mica, smooth our handovers, polish potential answers to hypothetical questions, visit our US office in a pretty, palm-fringed business park in ‘Palmetto Bay’, have mental breakdowns at selves / one another, overcome Chinese airline delays, nail our pitch, make amazing connections — Microsoft, Spotify, — and party in the sand at a beach country club. By the time I make it to the airport on the Monday after the wrap up party (and, because it’s a hopeless US airport, immediately admit defeat and just order PizzaHut before my red eye flight back to London), I am using all my remaining energy to keep my body from liquidising into an exhausted, trembling puddle state.