If you’re ever in Miami, check it out… if only for the coconut water machete man… lol
So I just got back from a week in my Hometown of Miami. It’s amazing how fast it went. It felt like every single moment of my time there was programmed. The whole time I was there I was missing Brandon since he stayed home. I got to enjoy some of the things I miss most about Miami like spending QT with my mom. Seeing my brothers and cooking dinner for the fam. Having breakfast every morning with my grandma and mom and talking about all sorts of things… silly and serious alike. Meeting my friend Gaudy’s baby and hanging out with Ana and David like old times. I had a lot of time to think about things… amidst the hustle and bustle of seeing family and running around like a mad woman, I was able to reflect on a few things weighing on my mind. I am glad I got to see the ocean and visit my 93 year-old grandma. Not to mention eating my beloved Chicken Kitchen!!! My mom picked me up at the airport and handed me an ice cold coconut with a straw- yum the perfect start to a great time in the M.I.A.! I could have spent two more weeks there to see several people I was unable to see since time slipped through my fingers…. Having said that, I was so glad to come home. The anticipation of waiting for the plane to land, see Brandon and be in my own home was almost unbearable. All in all it was a good trip, but now I am back to the reality of waking up to the sound of the alarm clock and being at work all day… Miami where art thou?
Here are a few pics from my trip…
Mentally, I had been counting on taking a trip somewhere romantic with Brandon this year. Since last summer I have been thinking of places I would like to go to. I have asked several people, some, avid travelers, their opinions on what places would be worth visiting. It seems that this ain’t happening anytime soon. I am so bummed. I have often said, If I won the lotto I’d spend my time, (and money) traveling. Yet it seems that I can never quite fill that insatiable void that can only be kept at bay from time to time by packing our bags and hitting the road. If I had it my way, we’d be packing our bags right this very minute and heading to the airport. Unfortunately, all I can do is stare at the map in our study and dream. So many places I’d like to see, yet so little vacation time or funds to actually make it happen. I stare at this map and dream, ponder, wonder what it would be like. I just imagine sitting on a tropical island, feeling the warm baby powder sand between my toes, as I sip from the straw lazily bobbing around in the coconut I am holding. Enjoying the sip as it cools my throat wetting my whistle until it makes its way to my content stomach- filled with previously eaten sweet and juicy mango. The breeze sings me a lullaby and the crashing waves accompany the melody, lulling me to sleep. The warmth of the sun feels so relaxing. The thought of lifting my finger seems too great a task. I breathe in the salty ocean air and listen to the birds fly over head. The palms sway as if dancing the hula and the ocean is a vision too glorious to behold. Then I realize it was only a dream. Tomorrow I will wake up to my annoying alarm clock. I’ll rise in a rush and speed off to work. Then I’ll earn my wages and count the minutes before going home. I’ll do this for what seems like an eternity, until the the weekend comes again, only to pass as in the twinkling of an eye. All I can do is stare at the wretched map. Far away my island awaits, calling my name, beckoning me, and gracing me only in dreams.
Preface: The title of this posting will make sense after about part 2 of this story… but it’s just too long to write in one shot.
My mom is a teacher and my grandmother is a retired teacher which means they usually have summers off. Every year they plan a trip to some insanely beautiful place on God’s green earth. Two summers ago was no exception. The only difference was that the planets aligned this time and I was able to somehow finagle my way along for the ride- which was no easy task considering that my department at work was really busy, I was short on disposable income, and I was really suffering from separation anxiety at just the thought of being away from Papo for so long. I gave myself a “get a grip, life is too short and you may never have this opportunity again” pep talk and without batting another eyelash I marched my hiney into my boss’ office to ask for the time off I needed. My mom’s uncle retired from one of the major airlines and donated a buddy pass for me to use on my trip which meant I no longer needed to fork over beaucoup bucks for this trip, life was good for a split second, except I realized that the trip was in three days and I did not have a current passport. Suffice it to say that I was more than relieved to be on board the aircraft three days later.
We were headed to Rome, Italy. I could barely contain myself. We were also going to see Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast. I had to pinch myself a few times a day to make sure I wasn’t in some deep slumber where sugar plum fairies danced around and teleported me to one of the most spectacular places on Earth. Upon arriving we grabbed a cab and headed to the hotel. We all took a power nap, showered, changed and headed out to the Piazza Barberini where our shuttle bus dropped us off. I was in a trance. So many beautifully dressed people, so much history in the architecture, so much life in the air, such breathtaking views! I was in love with Rome. That night we walked around the town and decided to have dinner at a small tratoria located in one of the busier plazas in the town called the Piazza Navona. We were greeted by a friendly waiter who brought us bread and sparkling water. He disappeared for about half an hour and then took our order. I ordered the Penne with salmon; my mom ordered cannelloni and my grandmother ordered the lasagna. We took our time and had such great conversation. The restaurant we chose was perfect because it was located in one of the liveliest piazzas in the town. At about sunset, vendors lined the streets selling art, wines, crafts other curious goodies. There was a group of young people singing “Hey Jude”. There was another group of street actors portraying drama in Italian right in the middle of the street. There was so much to see that I couldn’t wait to finish dinner to explore what the city had to offer. Of course I had to learn that this was not America, and our waiter was not being instructed to bring us everything in a flash to allow other customers to sit at our spot. This was Italy- and boy was I glad to be there. The food arrived and it was delicious. The three of us laughed over great food, wine and atmosphere. It is a moment I will remember forever. We finished dinner and I learned that asking for cream for coffee is not that common in Italy. Because we speak Spanish, we can usually understand most of what is being said in Italian. However, the word for cream in Spanish is very different than the word in Italian. In Spanish it is said crema, in Italian it is said panna. After a few charades, hand signals and pictionary, the waiter understood what I meant. He came back with a whole bowl of fresh whipped cream- now this was panna!- Halleluiah!
We tipped the waiter, who seemed to think I was bellisima because he made an awful frown when I showed him my wedding band, and left to see the sights with an new and improved ego.
We perused all sorts of things, but we made a stop at one of the artists in the center of the square. He had the most beautiful oil paintings of Italian landscapes. I mean this man was gifted. He was missing a few teeth, but where he lacked healthy gums and strong teeth, he made up for it in his art. My mom being a fan of sunflowers bought a gorgeous print which is now hanging beautifully in her home. We perused some more and returned to our hotel. We spent the following day in Rome and saw the sights. That evening we returned to the hotel showered, changed and went out to dinner in this restaurant someone from work had recommended. Apparently, it was kind of hidden but worth the hunt. It was called Nino’s and was in an alley off of the famous Spanish Steps. To our surprise we found it pretty quickly. We walked inside and were offered a seat. Our waiter was quite a character. I don’t remember his name, but he sort of looked like the Italian version of Robin Williams. He was kind of goofy, and kept insisting that we order the evening special for our appetizer, which was zucchini pie. Except he said it with an inflection in his voice that sounded like he was launching the words to another galaxy. It sounded like he said “Would you like the zooooochini piiiiiiiiiie? To his dismay none of us ordered the zoooochini piiiiiiiiiie. We each ordered a soup. I ordered the mushroom and my mom and grandmother ordered the white bean. I can almost taste it. Boy was that soup good! A few minutes later the waiter walked in with an order of zoooochini piiiiiiiiiie on the house. I must say that was the best zooooochini piiiiiiiie we ever had. After dinner we headed back to the hotel in Rome and prepared for our adventure in Sorrento the following day.
We woke up to a lavish breakfast at our hotel in
We arrived to the train station in
We were excited to see the hotel. My mom and I had spent countless hours researching online for hotels in the area, reading reviews, asking others who had traveled. My mom has used venere.com in the past for hotel reservations and had not had a problem so when trying to pick a hotel in
On the outside the hotel was really pretty. The lobby was very stylish too. The staff was friendly and promptly showed us to our room. Man oh man were we in for a surprise. The room was tiny! Not only was it small, there were only two small beds, and we specifically reserved a room for three travelers. After setting our bags down and expressing our dismay about the room to each other, we noticed there was a sideways Murphy bed in the corner of the room. This thing was tiny too. I pulled it down and sat on it for a second. The sheets were damp. Yuck. We then looked at the bathroom. I had never seen a shower like that before. It looked like a standing casket. I seriously wondered if I was going to fit into it- really. By that time we were so tired from our excursion that we decided that we would stay there anyway. We were only going to be there for two nights after all and finding another hotel without prior reservations in a foreign country would be one more obstacle in this already complicated and frustrating day.
We decided to go to dinner and call it a night. We walked downstairs and asked the attendant if there was anything in walking distance and he said that there was a great restaurant around the bend on the marina called Il bagni di delfino. Our spirits were down, we were hungry, tired, disappointed with our hotel, and had wasted an entire day making a trip that would normally take only a few hours. But we had to eat. So off we went, following the instructions we had been given. When we got there, there was a chalkboard menu outside listing the specials for the day. They were advertising a few things, but the one that caught our eye the most was the large beer for only 3 Euros. That was a deal. We were greeted by our waitress and seated immediately. She was very petite with boyish hair, but very funny. Without hesitation the three of us ordered the large beer and our meals. A few minutes later the waitress returned with our beverages. They meant what they said- that beer was ginormous. I don’t even like beer, but it was so icy cold, and I was so thirsty that I began to drink it. Half an hour passed and I hadn’t even made a dent finishing the beer. The waitress came by and half jokingly said… “You ordered it, now you have to drink it”. The three of us actually finished it and walked back to the hotel. All I can say is that the walk back was a blur; in fact the rest of the night was a blur. All I know is that I woke up the following morning wearing the same clothes as the night before.
I sensed optimism in the air that morning. It was going to be a better day, I knew it would.
To be continued…
The birds chirped and my tummy growled. We had all slept like logs. We needed the rest because a day of exploration and sightseeing awaited. The three of us woke up and took turns using the
casket shower. I stood gazing at that shower door and just tried to devise a plan. I needed to drape a towel overhead in case I got stuck and hotel staff needed to break down the door to come to my rescue. How embarrassing. So with a oneeee- twoooo- threeeee- momentum going, I shimmied into the shower. To my surprise, I fit! Barely, but I fit. What a relief. I was seriously envisioning myself being carried out on a stretcher in nothing but a towel. I finished quickly and got dressed. We all went to the dining area for our breakfast. Surprisingly, it was not bad. It wasn’t the smörgåsbord that we experienced in
The townspeople used this as their private beach. There was the cutest chubby little girl wearing only panties and a bandanna playing in the sand and water. I stopped and took a picture of her because she was so cute. We were distracted by this and almost didn’t realize that the bus arrived. The only problem was that my grandmother had stayed behind because her knee was aching from our pilgrimage the day before. She told us to come and get her in the front terrace of the hotel once we bought the tokens. My mother and I mustered up enough Italian to tell the bus driver that my grandmother was waiting by the hotel. Luckily, he agreed to make a stop just for her. Phew! That was close. The morning had been filled with excitement so far- first the shower, now the bus- what next? We picked up my grandmother and proceeded to downtown
We had all heard that Amalfi was beautiful. I remembered seeing it in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun and was thrilled to actually be on my way there. We were told at the bus station that the trip to Amalfi would take about an hour. So we sat in the nice air-conditioned bus and looked at the beautiful landscapes around us. There was a house that had been built directly into a mountain. It had a swimming pool that overlooked the turquoise sea below. As we started going up the mountain the ride became very tumultuous. As if in a fun house, that bus began twisting and turning on a street that kept get narrower and narrower. What began as a picturesque and relaxing ride became what felt like a scene from the movie Speed. My heart felt like it was sitting in my throat. The strangest part was that all of the locals acted like everything was normal… no one looked worried or perturbed- no one except the three of us, that is. After a few minutes, we decided that if everyone else was calm, we shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Finally, after this journey we arrived to Amalfi. We were stunned. What a gorgeous place. There were houses built on layer upon layer the mountainside. There were gorgeous views of the ocean. At first when we were researching the possibility of traveling here, we read about the cities that were in the Amalfi coast. There was Positano, Ravello, Amalfi, Vietri, and several other cities that we wanted to see. What was funny was that the cities were separated not so much by miles in latitude, but by miles in altitude. The higher or lower you went up the mountain the different cities you could see. Positano was below Amalfi, but because my grandmother’s knee had been acting up, we decided not to go. The walk would be way too steep for her. Another place we wanted to see was the Isle of Capri. From Positano you would take a ferry to there. They say
By this time, it was early afternoon and we were ready for a snack. We stopped at a small café that served Paninis and Gelato. Of course, we walked right in. A gelato was the perfect snack for a day like that one. My mom, grandmother, and I looked at the flavors. Our eyes danced over the Gelato case. My grandmother selected the coconut flavor. My mom chose the mascarpone, and I chose the Panna flavor. We sat outside the café and ate our gelato with such delight. We were having such a great time. The weather was beautiful, and the scenery was amazing. That Gelato was a piece of heaven. It was so creamy and delicious. Italians really have it right. We finished our snack and headed towards the shops. At the time, Brandon and I were living in a town house in
We walked into the ceramic shop looking for ceramic numbers. I saw one that I really liked made from terra cotta with the numbers outlined in black and red. Unfortunately, they had the 3’s but not the 1. My house number at the time was 133. We kept on looking and found one that was made of white ceramic with the lining in Blue. It also had yellow lemons as an adornment. This was it… every time I got home, I would instantly be reminded of my wonderful time in Amalfi.
We kept on seeing signs that said Baba sold here. I asked my mom and grandmother what that was and they didn’t know. We kept on meandering. The next thing that caught our eye was a fresh produce stand. This wasn’t just any plain old produce stand. This stand had the largest lemons I had ever seen. They were beautiful. There were strawberries, apricots, peaches, grapes- all sorts of delectable fruits. There was also a large sign above some dried peppers that read “Viagra Naturale”. Boy, we got a kick out of that. We had spent a few hours in Amalfi and realized we had drank the bottled water we purchased in Sorrento, and had not used the bathroom since then… suddenly the priority was to find a restroom. We looked and looked no bathrooms in sight. We asked a woman at one of the stores where the bathroom was and she pointed to another store. So off we went to that store. When we got there, this store did not have a bathroom either. By this time, we HAD to go. We kept walking ahead for about 5 minutes. Along the way, we passed a few more Baba signs. Finally, we had found the bathroom. They only odd thing was that they charged money to use it. We dug into our pockets and purses and found sufficient change to use the loo. It was the first time in my whole life I had paid to use a public bathroom. It wasn’t even a nice bathroom at that. It was grimy and dingy. But, like the ol’ saying goes- when you have to go, you have to go.
We made our last stop at the Limoncello store. The
The trip back was not as scary, maybe because we knew what to expect this time around. We arrived to the town square and walked past this beautiful Italian handbag and shoe store called Nannini. You could tell that this was not going to be cheap. But we were on vacation, and no men were there to deter us from our womanly urges to shop. I could have taken one of everything. I was scared to pick up the price tag to the purse I liked. It was about 350 Euros-, which at the time the dollar had already declined quite a bit. I looked at it and quietly put it down. My mom and grandma were both looking around too. My aunt Cristy would have really enjoyed this trip, but because her Daughter,
After more shopping, and details I won’t bore you with, we decided it was time to have dinner. We were in
my throat as it went down. It was like eating little balls of fire! My grandmother ate the rest.
We finished our meal with a nice coffee and headed back to the hotel. Half and hour hadn’t passed after being in the hotel when my grandmother urgently ran to the bathroom. The next thing we heard was her throwing up. It was awful and terribly funny to my mom and I at the time. She kept on for quite sometime, and the louder she got, the more my mom and I could not stop laughing. She finally finished, and after asking her if she felt ok, I said “Aby, I think the Babá went Ba- bye” The three of us were cracking up. We each got ready to go to bed, as we
were headed back to Rome the following day. I pulled out the Murphy bed and laid down. The sheets were damp. Yuck. I guess we were all so tired and tipsy from the huge beer the night before that we hadn’t noticed the nuances of our hotel. All of a sudden we heard this noise that sounded like trickling water. We looked around but nothing was leaking so we just let it go. Then about half an hour later we heard it again. It sounded like it was coming from the wall. But again we couldn’t find where it was coming from. After talking with my mom and grandmother we realized that it was the water flushing from the toilets of other people’s rooms. Apparently every time someone flushed , the water passed through a pipe that was inside one of the walls in our
room. That made for a few laughs and with that, we went to bed and ended our stay in Sorrento.