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Our first stop is Denver, Colorado. We spend our few days there getting over jet lag, hanging out with my family in Denver and shopping for the essentials on our "before we get to Columbia" list. The next stop is Florida for the big fiesta. My uncle has arranged rooms for us on the beach in Hollywood, Florida and some activities in the area. Hollywood is situated south of Fort Lauderdale and North of North Miami. The beach here is long clean and busy with locals and visitors. This part of Florida is a bit cheesy (or dare I say, tacky). Our hotel, for example, has an outdoor tiki bar and a musician is playing hours on end repeating the same classic rock songs and obligatory Jimmy Buffet songs over and over.
|It just wouldn't be Florida without life-sized plaster pirates|
With the weekend over Mika and I relocate from Hollywood to North Miami Beach. On Wednesday we make our first official US blog worthy excursion to Everglades National Park. This beautiful expanse of swampland is just an easy one hour or so drive from the immense sprawl of what is South Florida. The major reason I want to go here is to see alligators in the wild, especially since we had no luck spotting crocodiles in Indonesian Borneo just a few short weeks ago.
|What are you looking at?|
And just like in the peatlands of Indonesia, the ecosystem and natural balance of the Everglades has been completely upturned by human activity. (click link to see my post from Indonesia swamps)The flora and fauna cannot compete with the millions of residents and tourists for water. Decades of canal and levee systems have blocked the natural flow of rainwater to the Everglades, agriculture runoff alters natural vegetation patterns, and high levels of mercury has been found in all links of the food chain. Many animals are at risk. The number of wading birds nesting in the Everglades has decreased 93% since the 1930's and there are thought to be less than ten panthers in the entire park. These are not just problems of the third world. In 1989 the US Congress initiated a 30 year plan to restore the natural distribution of water to the region. Let's hope it works.
The next day we leave North Miami and go down to my cousins' apartment in the world famous South Beach. For the record, it is great to have a cousin with a comfortable sofa bed in South Beach a short walk from the ocean and Art Deco district. This weekend also happens to be Art Basel. A huge event where art galleries and art buyers from all over the planet arrive to buy and sell ridiculously expensive pieces of art.
The city seems to be very excited for the event. Outdoor art is everywhere and there are numerous satellite events and exhibitions all over. We spend an entire morning and afternoon filled with enough free stuff that we do not even have time for the actual Art Basel and its $32 entrance fee.
|Any installation that uses Star Wars' Stormtroopers is high art in my book|
|Happy Birthday Grandma!!!|