Miami to Cuba Pt. 2

I accompanied my girls to the Hotel door and wished them a fun evening and ventured over to the lobby bar of the 1 Hotel with my book “A Thousand Splendid Suns” as my wine and cheese dinner companion. I am sure less than an hour went by when I decided rather than sit and drink SOBE overpriced wine, I’d head over to Lummus Park via the Boardwalk. My book still in hand and off I went. I passed the life filled outdoor club of the W Hotel and all its glamour of cars with price tags of a minimum of $150,000, took a right on the boardwalk for the ocean side glimpse of the splendor of people dining on the patio of The Ritz. The Four Seasons was still filled with more drinking than eating as the 3 piece band entertained.
Within steps, I was there, the foot of the park outside Starbucks. I was wished a nice evening by two men sitting on the retaining wall. I asked them how they were doing and if they would like something to eat. They said they had had something already so I suggested perhaps a coffee (I learned that the homeless appreciate coffee and will tell you why in a later post) One of the men replied so fast with perfect honesty and told me “Ma’am, Thank you but we don’t want coffee, we’re alcoholics!” With that he and I had a good laugh. The three of us got to talking and  one, an American Apache Indian of decent, told me he had had a house up in Massachusetts. I asked where because I lived there as well before I moved to Switzerland. It turned out we were almost in neighboring villages near Peabody. I have come to learn that this a familiar story, people losing their homes and in time, the desperation moves them to the warmth of dream filled Miami where their dreams don’t seem to come true but their bodies at least, are not cold. I thoroughly enjoyed these two, their humor, their laughter and mostly their honesty with me.
At the end of our time together, the American Indian asked me if I had bus money for him to get to the Hospital in the morning. His wrist still wore his information bracelet from when he was released from the Hospital the day before. He had fallen, admittedly after drinking, and hurt himself. I do not give money, but I made the exception and gave him the exact $3.00 he asked for the fare. With that, as we said good-bye, he left me with an Apache prayer to which at the end, we danced to shake up that prayer to get it “activated”

Note Bene: A large percentage of homeless I have met have told me that they started to abuse alcohol since being on the street. It is not something that I condone, but in all fairness, it is something I can understand.

I am now off to hit the Walgreens on the corner of Collins and Lincoln. And the girls you ask? They’re still out, the night is young. There are a few more travels until I meet them back at the Hotel so it won’t be just yet that I can tell you about their night as I had planned ;).
Till then, travel a sweet dream,

my upload skills are not up to par…obviously 😉

Miami to Cuba, The First Part of My 15,000 Mile Journey

How it all begins…
It is most usual for my girls and myself to fly over to Miami for a couple of weeks during the summer vacation.
It is not usual that we’d go instead in the Fall and exceptional that the day after I arrived back in Zürich, I’d fly off to Cuba with my Partner for 3 weeks. Hence all the miles.

Our first trip into South Beach, Miami was when my twins and older daughter were 10 and 14. The immediate jump to the beach left them with the expected enthusiasm that they have had for the beach since they were fresh out of diapers. It was the first evening that brought about how they suddenly felt about this place that they saw as paradise.

We were going to dinner down Washington Avenue and being that it wasn’t all too humid, we decided to walk from our near Lincoln Road on Collins Hotel. It didn’t take more than a block until we came across the first homeless person laying in the corner entrance of a closed building, and from there after the homeless were present and visible with each block. By the time we reached the restaurant my children were rather distraught. Living here in Switzerland and the prior vacations to the west coast of Florida, this was a very new sight for them. They turned afraid of what they had witnessed. They were afraid of the homeless. Speaking with them during the meal, they came to see that they were most saddened and shocked, and I sensed that they would prefer a taxi back as their young, naïve eyes had had enough to digest for one day.

Before we left the restaurant, I had told the girls that a way to feel better about what they had seen, was to help. That we would go to the store and each get a bag of water, fruit and a sandwich and they could choose someone to help that night. They were still frightened of the idea of approaching a homeless person but the idea of helping clearly won.
We taxied up to Lummus Park Ocean Ave after buying food packed in separate, ready to give bags. At this time the Park, quite unlike the years before, was more or less filled at night with seasoned and seemingly “new” homeless, that after speaking with them I learned they had lost their job and then house during the crash. My daughters shyly and carefully looked at all the people as we walked. Finally, I accompanied them to the person they chose.

When we got back to the Hotel room, they were so invigorated with pride and happiness that they were able to help someone, that they now could not wait for the next night to do it again. But this time not just one person.

And that is how it all began. And that is how it has remained the years after, have dinner and shop for the homeless.

My oldest and Twins are now 22 and 18 respectively.

We decided that for our first night this Fall in SOBE we would walk over to Lincoln Road, and for me, to get their Lincoln pleads to go there out of the way. We crossed the street from the 1 Hotel that we were very fortunate to be able to stay at, walked just one block and found a very large man lying on newspaper appearing to be asleep. We turned around and looked at each other and decided to walk a block back to the Walgreens across the street from our Hotel and get him some food. Corn Bread, large sandwich, a banana and large bottle of water. When we came back, he opened his eyes as if half in fear (maybe thinking it was the police telling him to move on?) His eyes red, he accepted. As we turned away, he was sat up and furiously chowing down the corn bread. Needless to say, we went to him on our second night as well.

The third night my Daughters asked to go back to Lincoln. I had had enough of window shopping there and felt secure enough with their 18 years and knowledge of the Town to let them venture out on their own if they wanted. They took me up on it.

The result of how they spent their evening warmed my heart, as I hope it will yours…..tomorrow.

Till then, travel a sweet dream,