Warning! I have long-existing anti-American tendencies that might make me sound like a moaning bastard, but I’ll do my best.
Airport stopovers had occasioned a 24-hour wait in Miami, so I thought I’d take advantage and have a look around. I’d heard people talk about how amazing Miami and South beach were, so I didn’t want to turn down a tanning opportunity.
Anyway, the beaches aren’t that good at all, and even had me questioning whether I had gotten off the bus in the wrong place, but the signage didn’t lie. The beach is quite narrow and has that rough kind of sand peppered with small rocks. The edge of the sea was littered with seaweed and had some kind of half-metre high rock formation going on like a wall. Not the most enticing spectacle, so I didn’t venture into the water. The beach was largely empty; it was only about 80 degrees (I have no idea if that’s supposed to be hot or not), and the sun kept hiding behind the clouds and sprinkles of rain, so I didn’t have the best of sunbathes.
And then the numerical system they use over there. Again, I don’t use Farenheit, so couldn’t work out temperatures. Thankfully I randomly know that there are 2.2 pounds in a kilogram so weighing my bag pre-check in at luggage storage wasn’t too traumatic. I was then asked how many ounces of coca cola I wanted. I don’t know why they didn’t understand when I said “large”. I guess that was 14 ounces. Don’t get me going on coins. I was too embarrassed to use “dimes” and “nickels” because they had no numerical marking on them.
Still on numbers, and now we’re approaching the peak of my complaints, from which point, I’ll do my best to be complimentary. Now, you have to be really careful when you buy things in the USA because all of the prices listed are just a BIG lie. I got a Subway and thought I had the right change, but then was told a different price. I learned that they stick some kind of tax on everything you buy, and the percentage depends on what you buy. I don’t know why they can’t include tax in the listed price, just like about every other country in the world does. I’d also heard about the tip culture. Everywhere you go, from food establishments, bathrooms, luggage storage to supermarkets, they have their tip boxes out. Even in Subway! I didn’t know tipping was that extreme there.
Things in the USA are big, and not just food portions. Road signs and traffic lights are massive and all the cars are what I’d describe as “chunkier”. Drink cans, knives and forks, you name it. All bigger than usual.
I’d also been told that almost everyone in Miami spoke Spanish. Coming from Colombia, no change, but I didn’t anticipate that every single person in the airport and street would be Latino. Fair play. Florida is actually stolen Mexican territory.
But these Latinos are definitely different from the “real” ones down in South America that I’d become accustomed to. Forgive my ignorance based on only a day’s stay in the city, but they all seemed really Americanised. Fashion for a start. Women walking around in saggy jeans which you’d never see in Colombia (where every woman has to look at her best 24 hours a day), and loads of the males wore American Football and basketball gear. The brusque attitudes of any person working in retail. Rather strict and uptight like the US Immigration fellows who took a keen interest in me when I was going through passport control. None of this is a criticism, but those who have had contact with first and second generation Latinos may understand what I’m getting at. On the other hand, maybe I’m talking a load of bullshit.
Streets are very clean in the city, and one feels rather at ease when walking around. Shops are called markets and shirts are called jerseys, as I noticed when one chap congratulated me on my “nice” Croatia replica. Prices are elevated, but then I was in the tourist zone of the city. Is 17 dollars a lot for a breakfast consisting of a bagel and juice? Or was I lucky to have come from a country where you eat like a king for that price?
In conclusion, roughing it in the airport and beach and walking around aimlessly might not have given me a full insight into the intricacies of US culture, but I can only go on what I’ve seen.
Feel free to correct me.