Well, you might have heard the Miami Heat made it to the NBA finals last week. All season Mark had watched their games and for the last month he had been studying the schedule and trying to estimate when the finals might be, which games would be in Miami, and if we might go. And to go back even further, for years we had daydreamed about hopping over to Miami for the weekend from Akumal, since Miami is a direct, hour and a half flight from Cancun. So now was the perfect opportunity. We gambled a little by waiting until Game 5. The series score was 3-1, Miami, so we knew that we had a chance of seeing the championship game. And we got lucky!
We flew into Miami the day of the game and checked into our snazzy party hotel in the heart of South Beach (the hotel had a DJ spinning in the lobby, and free mojitos during happy hour). We grabbed some dinner on Ocean Avenue and then took a taxi to the arena, just a few minutes away. It was a gorgeous, clear warm night and everyone was super excited. Quickly we realized that of course all the fans were wearing white to support the home team. Duh–we forgot to wear white! Oh, well. They gave out white Heat towels to everyone and we tried to blend in.
We had bought our game tickets just a couple hours before on a ticket broker website, and were pleasantly surprised at how close we seemed (though we were still very high up!). Right away we spotted Chuck Barkley and Shaq on the court, doing interviews. Soon we saw the ESPN crew, including Magic Johnson, set up in the box over the court. Then both teams came out to shoot around, and we were giddy with excitement.
The fans were amazing. We’ve heard Miami fans were fair-weathered, but the people sitting around us were great. There were about five different groups (young and old) and they all had season tickets so they had sat together all year. We were impressed that they didn’t “sell out” their championship game seats. They were die-hard. One of them had the most adorable one-and-a-half year old, who was totally into the game and dancing during the time-outs. They told us he had been to every game this season! Pretty amazing, since the games usually start at 9pm. He almost made it to the last quarter, but fell asleep. One tiny African-American grandmother next to us was totally into the game. She was a big fan of Mike Miller and kept yelling, “It’s Miller Time.” As he kept sinking his three pointers she started dancing around and yelled, “I just can’t be still!”
The game was action-packed, too. Even though The Heat had the lead the entire game, it was still full of exciting shots and amazing dunks. I suppose that’s all I will say about basketball because I barely know the lingo…but I have to admit, I had so much fun watching basketball (who would have guessed?).
We really enjoyed watching the players celebrate as they realized they won, especially Lebron. He was giddy and bouncing around and picking up his coach and fellow players. It was pretty cute. I was really happy for him. Then there was a big party which started at the arena but pretty much lasted all night. As we poured out of the stadium we could tell that the whole city of Miami had watched the game, and everyone was driving around honking and hanging out of their cars, screaming. When we got back to South Beach it was the same, so we just wandered the streets enjoying the festivities. Such a fun night for the both of us!
The next day and night we enjoyed South Beach. It is full of such a wonderful young, diverse (but especially latin), and beautiful group of people, and the people-watching was fantastic. We basically wandered around the shops, restaurants and bars all day around Collins and Ocean Avenue, and relished being in a culture so completely opposite to Akumal. We sure do love contrast!
We accidentally paid for our most expensive drinks ever by ordering two mojitos at the Cardozo Hotel. We knew they were going to be pricey, but when the bill came at $50 for two drinks, were were shocked. Still, they were pretty big drinks, so we were sure to drink to the very bottom!
Saturday we checked out of the Chesterfield and drove south to the Keys, another place that we both had wanted to visit for many years. First stop was lunch in Key Largo (yes, we of course had to play the Beach Boys’ Kokomo song a few too many times on the road). We made a detour in Islamorada where we fed some gigantic tarpon and pelicans, and then we drove down to Key West, the southernmost point of the Florida Keys and also of the entire eastern seaboard.
Key West is our kind of town. Mellow and relaxed, surrounded by water, but with a wonderful little strip called Duvall Street that is packed with restaurants, bars, shops, and full of people looking to have fun. We had a full day and night on Duvall Street, including amazing sushi and the obligatory cheeseburger in paradise at what is claimed the original Margaritaville.
We hadn’t booked a room in Key West, and were a little worried that since it was Saturday night we might have trouble. But as soon as we drove in and picked out the part of town we wanted to stay, we spotted an adorable bed and breakfast that had one room left. It was super cute and we wished we were staying longer.
The next day Mark went for a run and I walked over to Hemingway’s old house, where he lived in the 20s and 30s. It was such a treat. Restored the way it had been when he had lived there and full of fifty cats that were genuine descendants of Hemingway’s famous six-toed cats, the house had so much charm. Walking through his writing room gave me chills and lit the fire in me to get my act together! I also learned more about his life in Cuba, and now I need to go see his house there, too. Put that on the list!
What a wonderful weekend. By Monday afternoon we were back home (after picking up Pancha from the doggy hotel in Playa del Carmen), just in time for my Monday English class. Now it’s back to the grind, I guess! This last sign sort of sums it up:
Finally, here is a video of the Heat Band on game night: