5 March, 2015
After a week of tightly-packed concerts, Wednesday’s day off in Miami Beach was meant to be relaxing. It didn’t quite work out like that… Ben has the story.
“Frankly we’re pretty relieved to be waking up today with all our limbs still attached having spent yesterday morning getting up close and personal with alligators in the Everglades National Park. We couldn’t have been more touristy as we piled onto the bus for our guided tour of the world’s largest tropical wilderness.
“Having arrived at the visitor centre we climbed aboard an ‘airboat’ which consists of a very wide and flat hull powered by a huge propeller at the back. Initially we pootled along spotting wildlife including aligators, turtles and ibis, but then we reached a more open section of marshland where it was more about extreme speed and power-sliding.
“Back on dry land we were then herded into an arena for the alligator-wrestling show followed by an opportunity to hold an 18-month old ‘gator [with a rubber band around its jaws]. I think the heat might have been getting to us by this stage, as you can see…
“Some members of the group decided to sample the fairly unappetising alligator burgers and sausages on offer and we then jumped on the bus back to civilisation.
“Having the rest of the day free in Miami should have been easy. Spending some of it in a breakdown truck had not been part of the plan. This sorry tale began in the scooter hire place near our hotel in South Beach. Lured in by the promise of wind-in-your-hair glamour, we (just four of us) surveyed the choice of mopeds in the shop. With the benefit of hindsight it’s clear we should have avoided the cheaper end of the spectrum and gone for something like a Vespa, but of course we completely ignored all the warning signs and went for the flimsiest things in the shop.
“The plan had been to scoot seven miles to Little Havana where there was said to be a carnival going on, and if it hadn’t been for a catastrophic mechanical failure in my scooter after 6 miles, we would have made it. Sadly that technical hitch resulted in me having to push the scooter for half a mile in the searing heat to the nearest garage. Finding the garage closed was not a fantastic moment, but Helen and I sprang into action and having abandoned the carnival plan we decided our best bet was to flag down a passing pickup truck (which seemed to be the majority of cars in this part of town) and offer them some money to take us back to the hire place. Several propositions later we struck gold with an actual breakdown lorry and haggled a good price to get the pathetic little moped back to South Beach. After that, things started to get a lot better with free upgrades to Vespas and some leisurely scooting along the seafront as the sun went down.”