Greetings from paradise, a spacious bungalow tucked into the tropical jungle of Coconut Grove where we are sitting beside our small backyard pool lined with towering palm trees. The colors alone are lifting my Iowa spirits – blue sky, sun shining yellow onto the green palms, pink and orange bougainvillea spilling over the burnt red tiles of the front deck of our amazing Airbnb (4057 Malaga Avenue).
After an awful drive here on I 95 from the Fort Lauderdale airport (a crash left traffic at a standstill for an hour), the lush overgrown jungle-like roads of Coconut Grove were very welcome. Even better, Francine and Russ soon arrived, fresh off the plane from London. And then our “surprise” visitors, Myra (from Connecticut) and daughter Emma (from Philly) knocked on our door. They are staying with Myra’s brother in nearby Coral Gables.
After drinks and appetizers by the pool (bought at a nearby IGA that is the fanciest IGA I’ve been to, called Milam’s) we had a fantastic dinner at a small Venezuelan restaurant Cardon y el Tirano, hidden in a strip mall at the western edge of Little Havana on Calle Ocho (SW 8th avenue). We shared little nibbles and plates of things I’ve never had before. Yucca balls, crispy pork dumplings, slices of salt-cured steak served with crispy tostones and burnt hard llanero. The desserts were crazy; one had avocado “rocks” (bits of frozen avocado) dotting a smear of Nutella with balls of sweet chocolate truffles. Meanwhile, “Anthony and cleopatra” was playing on a nearby screen, adding a touch of camp to the place.