I decided to come to Miami on a whim. I had no solid invitation or purpose for doing so. I wanted to see Tito and Bastien, two of my closest friends from college. I wanted to learn about the business that Tito and his father run. But in the usual course of life this would not have provided half the motivation necessary to foot the $300 airfare, and weeklong commitment to the unknown. This sort of raw logic has never really been my way of thinking and in this instance my impulsive nature paid off.
I loved my time in Miami. Bastien picked me up from the airport on Tuesday afternoon and I spent the day with his family. They live in an amazing apartment in Aventura (North Miami) overlooking the Intercoastal and the ocean. Miami is enchanting, the greatest mix of natural and man made elements in all of America. The view from Bastien’s apartment is of the ocean as far as the eye can see, but in the foreground lay an amazing array of high rises, none of which are architectural achievements and yet some how their combination with the sea and the sky is perfect.
Bastien’s family treated me to a three course French dinner, after which Bastien and I sat on his terrace eating ice cream and sipping beer. That night we went to the Delano and were out until four in the morning. Hanging out with Bastien’s group of friends I quickly realized that the first language in Miami is Spanish. As a haven for wealthy Latin Americans, Miami is more apart of South America than the USA.
“Miami is the most developed city in Latin America”.
Wednesday, I rendezvoused with Tito for lunch at Pollo Tropical and a long afternoon of work at this father’s office. Tito showed me the different products that his father’s company was selling to help companies cut down on the amount of energy they use. The Negawatt industry, the label used to describe companies that harness new technologies to reduce energy consumption, has enormous growth potential so in my search for possible entrepreneurial endeavors I was very keen to learn about it. The next morning we were up at 3:50 a.m. to make a three-hour journey to Orlando. Our destination was Disney Vacation’s International Call Center, a hundred thousand square foot dungeon complete Disney characters, catchphrases and brainwashed employees to boot (see: “The Unhappiest Place on Earth”). We spent the entire day counting the lighting fixtures in the building so that Tito new how many replacements to order for a complete retrofit of the building – a project that will save Disney money, conserve energy, and hopefully brighten up the gloom.
By Thursday night I was restless. I had come to Miami to learn about Tito’s business but I also wanted to have some fun, and twelve hours in a call center filled with over-weight Mickey’s and Minney’s had just about pushed me over the edge. So after a nap I called Bastien and we headed to Mokai in South Beach. Tequilla, whiskey, and Latin dancing made for the perfect night. Friday I woke up at noon, and headed to Bastien’s apartment for an afternoon of swimming, bowling, and a nap on his terrace. This was the vacation that I had in mind when I decided to come to Miami. That night we went to Segafredo – a coffee chain with an ego. Segafredo in South Beach is a like a Starbucks-cum-nightclub, complete with a door man in an all white corduroy suit who had the audacity to warn me that next time I needed to heed the dress code. The trip ended on a high note, another late night with Bastien and his group of friends. Saturday morning I awoke and spent sometime with Tito before catching the Greyhound bus from Miami to Naples to visit the Grandparents.