Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Miami and Arrival

Well, I've arrived. I'm now shipboard, and astounded by the conditions in our suite—I'm unpacking faster than a speeding bullet, but needed a break and decided to do a quick update. So let's try to go in chronological order.

Rather than pass the day in boring Ft. Lauderdale, the gang took a shuttle down to meet me in Miami this morning. (The price was a little steep, but not so bad split among seven, and after all, we're not doing much other spending due to Mr. Fushigi's generosity.) I've never spent time in Miami with anyone other than family members, so this was really quite interesting. They arrived at the Miami Airport at 10:45 am, and my grandmother brought me to meet them. My aunt J had also generously agreed to ferry us around for the day, since there was no possible way that all nine of us could fit in one car. Bea and Tali had to share a seatbelt for the first leg of the trip as it was. Jess took over my grandmother's car for the day, since my grandmother's not as much up to driving as she used to be. We dropped her at home and promised to drop her car off before the day was out.

After that, we drove to my favorite restaurant in the area, Villa Habana. (My grandmother, ridiculous as she is, had promised to pay for lunch even though she didn't want to come with us.) All our body clocks were puzzled enough that we were quite ready to have lunch at 11:45. They recently discontinued my favorite beef stew, but Connor was a tremendous fan of their minute steak, and we split seven platters of fried plantains among the ten of us.

At Amber's request, we then headed out to Fairchild Tropical Garden, very close to my aunt's house. The Chilhuly exhibit I'd seen a year ago was still there—though many of my companions had seen his work at Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, it felt entirely different among tropical plants. Chihuly's an astounding glass blower—at this point he's sacrificed one of his eyes to his art—whose expertise is in large-scale installations, the interaction of giant glass sculptures with natural settings. Tali was especially enamored of the floating glass balls in the pond near the entrance. I was only sorry we couldn't be present for a "tropical Chihuly night."

We spent so much time wandering the gardens (and indulging in overpriced snacks) that we had to rush to pick up my grandmother and meet our shuttle back to the ship. My grandmother, though exhausted, was delighted by the crowd and buoyed enough by it to drive home by herself. I fell asleep in our shuttle (I was told Jess and Bea did as well) and we made it back by 5 pm.

I'm more than a little overwhelmed by my impressions of the ship right now, and exhausted by my travels, that I'm going to stop here. Tomorrow I hope to get some exploring done, along with a little swimming, and I'll be sure to update on my impressions. But quick realization—my parents honeymooned on this same ship's transatlantic crossing! How cool is that?


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