Well as you can tell from this, and the two previous posts, Phaedra and I are back from our trip down south. Every other year we’re suppose to spend Christmas (and subsequently Phaedra’s birthday) with my family in Miami. They live in Kendall on one of the few lakes not connected to the canals (and therefore safe to swim (unless you really like alligators)). We had to skip last year due to hurting my foot, so it had been three years since we visited Casa Hernandez. The flight down was delayed an hour so we didn’t get in till almost 2 in the morning, after stopping in at a local Cuban coffee shop (Empanadas, Croquettas, Cafe (espresso 60 cents) & for me a cafe con leche (latte $1.20, Starbucks can’t compete).
After sleeping for a few hours we spent the day relaxing at the home of my parents (Pete & Elsa) and sister (also Elsa), but that evening we went out to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Never saw an Indian Hard Rock before (to tell the truth it is not on reservation land and there is big controversy over it’s existence). The casino itself is nice, but only offers slot machines & various flavors of poker. Dad & I gambled (and lost) while the girls walked around the shops (they said it was like a nice looking, outdoor, high-end mall). The one restaurant we visited was a real disappointment, with one of the worst examples of service I’d ever experienced, plus the food was ranged from bad to just OK, and over-priced. Still we all had a good time.
The next day saw us visiting a Catholic Charities pre-school/day care center that my sister was once in charge of, and is now just one of many she administers. She has done wonders with these schools and I am very proud of her.
Later that afternoon we visited El Palacio de los Jugos (Palace of the Juices (sounds better than Juice Palace)). If you like fresh juices, this place is amazing, we bought Mango, Tamarind, Guanabana (soursop), Coconut, and Pina-colada (Coconut & pineapple juices mixed). In fact we went back at least twice more during the trip to get more.
A lot of time was spent in my sister’s private enclosed side yard (Phaedra & my smoking section) that she fixed up nicely with comfortable chairs, flowering plants and an avocado tree. This photo was of a small lizard poking its’ head out of the air-conditioning unit in her yard. Glad I wasn’t there when the compressor fan turned on.
That night I wanted to take everyone out to someplace nice, but different, so I looked up on Zagat, and found Ortanique on the Mile, a fantastic, if a bit pricey, Caribbean restaurant. I have to say, it may very well have been the best food, and dining experience, I have ever had. We tried West Indian Curried Crab Cakes, a 3 cheese plate, Pan Sautéed Bahamian Black Grouper, Black Angus Beef Tenderloin, and a West Indian Style Bouillabaisse. Highly recommend it if you’re in Miami, on the Miracle Mile (and can afford $90+ a person).
The next day, Christmas Eve Day, and Phaedra’s birthday, were spent shopping (the girls anyway) at Macy’s (Phaedra made out well with birthday gift cards from my family), while my dad & I went out to Miccosukee Casino (we lost again). That night we had a dinner at home in Phaedra’s honor, composed of turkey & stuffing, spinach mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, oven roasted asparagus, and cranberries. My father got Phaedra drunk with a sour-apple martini. We topped the night off with a birthday cake and gift giving.
Finally the event that brought us here. Christmas morning. A time of wonder and delight for all. After a breakfast of my wife’s world famous (at least in our small world) cheese soufflé, we got to the presents. This is a picture of what they looked like before we started.
The ripping, the tearing, paper & ribbons being uncaringly torn limb from limb. Oh my God, the horror of it all. No, only kidding, we had lots of fun, and lots of gifts for all. In fact, Phaedra & I had to leave some of our clothes behind (to be mailed) just so we could make room in our luggage for all that we received (and shopped for).
That was our trip. Phaedra & I had a great, and relaxing, time. We both very much want to thank my parents, and my sister, heartily, for their hospitality. We flew back at 9:30 p.m. Christmas Day, got in to Newark around 1 a.m. the next day, to the house by 2, bed by 3:30. Slept for a long long while, and then went to Eva & Anthony’s for Christmas leftovers, but that’s yet another post.
You can see the other 30 odd photos I took of our visit down south under trips on my photo page, or just click here.
Click any of the pictures above for larger versions
P.S. You may have noticed (or not) that the dates of the last few (and next) postings don’t match when they popped up on my blog. It’s because I mostly wrote them on that day, but had not had a chance to finalize the text (read spellcheck), or upload the pictures till now.