Bright lights, big cities. USA is the birthplace of LA, Las Vegas, Chicago, Boston, New York and Miami, each a brimming metropolis whose name alone conjures a million different notions of culture, cuisine and entertainment.
I managed to go only up to Florida and the city of Miami. What was once a citrus farming town is now a pan-American mosaic, the most Latin city in the world north of Mexico. Put together Caribbean immigrants, Jewish Holocaust survivors, a bright gay party scene, mad rednecks and a South Beach celebrity scene and you have Miami. Add to the above clean lines slimming down an Art deco hotel on Miami Beach, the glamorous, sexy people lining up at the VIP clubs and the crazy night life and there you have it all.
I managed to find a cheap accommodation in Espanola Way, a pedestrian street just outside the area where everything happens. With limited time there, as I was on my way to Central America, I quickly had a taste of a US mega city. I saw all the glamour and rich, people with big wallets that want to taste everything and do all that this city has to offer. Nevertheless modern Miami doesn’t lack of problems. This international city has both the cheerful energy and hungry Third World edge of the Caribbean and Latin America. Economic inequality is rampant and the grandiose spirit of American capitalism has mixed with Miami’s Latin/Mediterranean flair, making the gap between the haves and have-nots here particularly vast. But that balanced living together of wealth and sex is also what makes this town so fun and fast. ‘The World is Yours’ was the iconic catchphrase of Scarface, a movie that captured the highs and lows of Miami’s hyper-extravagant 1980s, and the citizens of this town have taken those words to heart.
Moving forward to the rest of my Florida experience, I got to know the Keys, a number of islands that are connected with a long castaway. The Upper Keys, from Key Largo to Isla Morada, are cluttered with touristy shops and motels, and from the highway you can’t even see the water. But as you go further south into the Middle Keys, the land starts to open up, offering the startling realization that you’re actually driving from island to island. Trailing off like ellipses, the islands get smaller as you reach the Lower Keys, which is everything from Little Duck Key on. But far from petering out, the Keys reach their grand finale at the end of the highway in Key West, many visitors’ favourite Key of all. Living so far away and having heard so much about Key West, I can’t say that I was impressed. Maybe it was the lack of beaches or the overcrowded time that I was there but I can say that the trip of getting there was more interesting than the actual place.
USA is a country of road trips and great open skies, where four million miles of highways lead past red-rock deserts, below towering mountain peaks, and across fertile wheat fields that roll off toward the horizon. Although as a world power USA is the mother of all bad things for a lot of you, I believe a trip there will make you understand and may change your mind about it. So come on and taste a road trip on the great American continent.