Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Midsummer Night's Dreams

Just returned from five weeks at the Miami Beach place, with a nine-day trip to Peru in the middle. With each trip, I learn a little more about the history of my surroundings and the stories behind familiar sites.

We see below the Akoya, third highest building in Miami Beach and distinguished by the "crown" on top. It's in the North Beach area, is visible from very far north (almost to Hallandale), and looks much smaller from a distance than it actually is. The Deauville Hotel, where the Beatles stayed during their first trip to America in 1964, is just out of the picture in the foreground. It's actually a rather unimpressive looking structure, both from the street and from the beach, so I won't bother posting a picture.

The Akoya Condominium Complex

The Blue Diamond and Green Diamond Buildings are the tallest structures in Miami Beach, They are located a couple of miles south along "Millionaires' Row," near the end of a stretch that has no beach access from the street, and were developed by the same folks who built the Akoya. . All three buildings were "grandfathered in" when a new height regulation for structures in the city was imposed.

The Blue and Green Diamond Buildings are primarily condominiums, but appear to have some public areas on the ground floors as well. Strangely, while walking on the beach these buildings--and anything south of them--are not visible from the north until you pass the Akoya.

The Blue and Green Diamond Buildings

Pictured below is an old image of the Doral Hotel. It is visible on the left in the picture above, and is now called the Miami Beach Resort and Spa. The Eden Roc and Fountainbleau Hotels are just a little farther to the south, but back in the day the Doral was regarded as the most luxurious of them all. It served as George McGovern's headquarters during the 1972 Democratic Convention, and is the setting for the original "The Heartbreak Kid," which was filmed earlier that same year.

The old Doral Hotel, now the Miami Beach Resort and Spa

My own place is a little more modest. This was the first trip where I made extensive use of my new kitchen appliances. As mentioned in an earlier entry, I had to go all-electric when a gas leak damned near blew my place up while I was not there. It works quite okay, and is proof that you don't need a lot of space or fancy equipment to whip up a tasty meal.

My own humble kitchen in the North Beach area

So now we get to the source of the strange title of this particular entry. You see, it's taken me almost a week to decompress from that five week trip, where at the time it seemed lazy and relaxing, yet so very much happened. The trip to Lima was my first since living there in 1982/83 as a student and language teacher, and it was as nostalgic and meaningful as it sounds. I spent the whole week in Lima, and made the trip fairly short because it was an experiment; I wanted to see what I thought of the place and if I could still tolerate the inconveniences of a third world country.

I found it a much better experience than expected. The Miraflores area of Lima, in particular, seemed more affluent than in the eighties, and though I'd never considered Lima a particularly dangerous place, I felt surprisingly comfortable walking around the downtown area after dark. I know a bit about the recent history of Peru, and know it isn't all sweetness and light, but there's an optimism about the future that was encouraging.

The price of all this is that there is--literally--a cop on every corner in Miraflores. Peru has always had a bewildering variety and number of uniformed authority figures, but never so many as now. They are polite, and seem to keep an eye on each other as much as on the citizenry. There are now tourist police who cater especially to foreign visitors, and along the beach I even saw uniformed security standing guard over portable toilets!

Just like when I lived there in the eighties, the people still gripe about low wages and underemployment, but I've never seen such an overwhelming number of places to eat and drink... with virtually all of them seeming to do a booming business well into the night hours. The overhead associated with having such an overwhelming security presence must be awfully high, but it also employs a lot of people and--if wages aren't high enough to suit the average worker--the society appears intent on showing petty thieves that crime doesn't pay at all!

Below are a few pictures from the trip. Larco Mar is a newer shopping mall built on the edge of the cliffs over Miraflores. The second picture shows me there with a couple of old friends from teaching days. The lady next to me lived in Miami Beach until a couple of years ago, so it wasn't that long since I'd seen her. Much of the trip was spent hangin' out at her house, which I'd never visited in 1982/83 but saw plenty of this time.

The house in Barranco where I'd lived is now a wreck. It was very very old when I lived there, and I'm not sure how it has fallen into such disrepair now. The rest of Barranco looks more prosperous than in the eighties, though it's still rather rustic compared to Miraaflores, and quite recognizable as once-familiar sights jogged my memory little by little.

The park in Miraflores is full of stray cats, who were brought there originally to take care of a rodent problem. They are very used to people and really kind of moochers. The last picture shows me with one of them.

After a couple more weeks back in Miami Beach, I'd head for San Diego and a few more weeks of time off before the fall semester starts. Each leg of the trip was a direct flight, and I really got the feeling on this particular adventure that I'm kind of loosely connected to EVERYTHING. Miami is a nice way-station for launching a trip to Latin America, and I'm pretty sure I'll be doing that more often. The condos in both places have similarities that make me feel like I'm never far from my essence.

What's strange is the dreams. Most every night I have vague impressions of being different ages and in different places I've lived. Like most dreams, I can't quite remember the details of them. From time to time I'll wake up anxious, like I'd been faced with a bizarre problem I couldn't solve and hadn't quite grasped yet that it was only a dream, but overall they leave me with a pleasant or vaguely nostalgic feeling. Some of them are quite funny, with me speaking Japanese to Peruvians in the middle of a German city with a beach. It seems to be a way of sorting out memories in the mind's file cabinets.

Also, for almost a week I've been trying to fully appreciate this rare opportunity to live with no responsibilities or obligations at all in the middle of a warm summer. I can eat and sleep whenever I wish, and know I'm not neglecting anything because I took care of business when it required my attention. The biggest rental, the duplex, now has the new roof that I've dreaded having to eventually replace, saving up for over the past year. Both condos got their thorough cleaning before I left, and have been trouble-free little hideaways.

The gal's gone for good, at least as a romantic partner. We spoke by phone and agreed to keep in touch casually, but the 44 year old dream we both clung to for so long has died. She feels--at this particular moment in time anyway--that I decided to buy a vacation home in Southern Florida not because of her but to explore my extensive family roots. Maybe she's right. Indeed, half my parents' aunts and uncles--both sides of the family--ended up in the area. I've made the acquaintance of distant cousins, and come to understand a lot of connections that I wouldn't have otherwise learned of.

On the other hand, people don't make general life decisions for a single, simple reason. One of the few concepts I retain from the high school physics class I took around the time the gal and I met is that of "vector sums." This is the principle that an object moves or stands in a particular way because of the multitude of forces that act upon it. I've often thought of that as an analogy for many of my own life decisions. It's pure Newtonian physics, and probably, when new, it had its effect on philosophy and the belief that human behavior could also be determined mechanistically if all the factors were factored in. It's funny how it was almost right, and describes so many behaviors, yet in the end oversimplifies both motion in the universe and human psychology.

In the end, I didn't do what I did only because of her, but probably wouldn't have done it if not for her. Thus did the forces of the universe converge to bring me to buy a waterfront condo in Miami Beach, but I digress and need to come back to earth. Just joined one of those free dating sites the other day. I alter my posted location between San Diego and Miami Beach, and seem to be getting a lot of lookovers. The only problem is that--as I've noticed since my twenties--the only women who pay attention to me are about half a decade older. When I'm 95, will I be pursued only by women over 100?!

Panorama of Larco Mar, Miraflores (Lima), Peru

With some old colleagues at Larco Mar

What remains of the house I lived 1982/83 in Barranco (date on the camera was set wrong).

A new-found friend in Kennedy Park, Miraflores