South Beach is like beaches in the Caribbean.
The sand is white and grainy and blue beach umbrellas blow in the wind like the tops of stir sticks in one’s Pina Colada.
Some brave souls wade in the water even though it is colder this time of year. Bodies are spread under the sun trying to become a different color than they were born. This Saturday afternoon there is plenty of beach to occupy and lifeguards are so nonchalant that one has his feet up in the window of the lifeguard shack, his eyes looking at the plywood ceiling instead of the ocean.
A walk on the beach hooks me up with couples, kids, turistas, gawkers, and local vendors like Dave the water guy making a living off strangers who have washed up on shore and have credit cards and cash stowed away in their socks and bras.
It is a festive scene, and, as a small plane pulls an advertisement in the sky behind it, I trek up and down the beach in levis and a pair of hiking boots – feeling a little overdressed.
There are photo op’s galore.
The one, not taken advantage of, is a Latina sprawled on the beach, topless, tanned, not at all worried about nipple burn. She is bold and is probably one of the few to have a good enough physique to get away with wanting the world to see all of her. Her girlfriend, tanning next to her, looks mean enough to scare the junkyard dog.
Walking this afternoon, I have come, have seen, and have been conquered by narcissism. It’s ambiance is bleeding like a cut finger.
I am a tourist with no responsibilities, no ambitions, and no agenda except blending in like the ingredients of your favorite margarita.
My purpose on this trip is to meet places I visit on their own terms, not try to change them or judge them by what I want them to be.