Since the beginning of time (ok, so since circa 2014) I’ve been casting pessimistic shade over Miami, Florida.
I don’t know what it is but I just don’t like the place.
Trust me, I try.
Like really hard.
If I put this much effort into dating, I shudder to think of the level of Casanovaesque suave I could achieve.
But no matter what I do, it just falls flat for me. Every. Single. Time.
I’ve tried mixing things up. I’ve traveled there on my own dime and I’ve been there on someone else’s. I’ve stayed in South Beach, Brickell, and Miami Beach. I’ve crashed with locals and I’ve stayed in fancy hotels. I’ve attended parties in North Miami and I’ve walked the streets of Little Haiti. I’ve been denied access to a trendy club but I’ve also been allowed into another where I partied with Usher. I’ve toured superyachts and I’ve been out on SUP boards. I’ve had the best table at the city’s best restaurant and I’ve played darts at the holiest hole-in-the-wall bar there ever was.
The list goes on.
But I still walk away feeling meh.
Now, this might not seem like such a big deal to you and you’re probably right – it shouldn’t be. I can accept the fact that I’m not going to love every place I travel to.
But Miami is the ONLY place I’ve ever felt this total lack of regard and heavy dislike for.
Why does this bother me so much? Why do I consistently obsess over this place that I borderline loathe?
The answer is simple. It all comes down to my personal travel ethics. I’m a cultural traveler meaning that I’m driven solely by people. So if I don’t like a place it essentially means I don’t like its people. And if I don’t like its people, then I don’t like its culture.
So what kind of jackass does that make me? That I can dismiss an entire population of such diversity and group them all together and say I’m just not that into you.
How can I be so dismissive and arrogant?
I mean, I have friends – no, make that good friends – who live in Miami. Yet, I still can’t drum up a compliment that doesn’t revolve around you have really pretty scenery.
This is not to say that there aren’t places I like or have enjoyed myself in in Miami.
But are these places uniquely Miami? Or are they just cool venues in and of themselves? Ones that you could transport to any other coastal city and they’d have the exact same vibe?
So what does this mean about my future with Miami?
Will I ever feel a tingling of excitement to visit? Or ever feel a connection? Will I ever stop comparing their beaches to the pristine white ones of my hometown in Florida’s panhandle? Will I ever get onboard with the clubby nightlife? Or the amounts of muscles parading along South Beach? Will my anxiety over the constant traffic ever cease?
And what of my feelings towards the people I have met? The ones who just aren’t my type. Will I ever grow to like the local way of life in Miami? Will my friends who’ve shown me nothing but generous hospitality ever forgive me for my lack of appreciation towards the place they call home?
I can’t help but think I’m a lost cause. Just another causality consumed in the turmoil of traveler’s guilt and doomed to never like a place that most people would kill to visit. Many of whom will never get the chance to step foot inside the US.
Miami wouldn’t even let me take pleasure in a simple thing like leaving as the city snatched away my brief happiness moments after boarding my plane to Guatemala.
The local Miami businessman placed in the middle next to my window seat must have skipped his English lessons the day they taught the meaning of encroachment – for he spent the entirety of the flight with his right arm well over our shared armrest and into my personal space as we both sat typing away on our laptops. A practice which led to elbows jabbing one another every 30 seconds or so as I refused to be the one to give up as my elbow was kept well within the seat parameters.
As I descended into Guatemala for the first time, I couldn’t help but worry and agonize over where (or when) the clutches of dislike would unexpectedly grip me again. Will there ever be another place that causes these kinds of feelings? Will the guilt ever fade or will I learn to accept that these things happen and move on?
Only time will tell. In the meantime, as I sit at a low-key bar in Antigua de Guatemala encircled by a chain of both active and inactive volcanoes, I’m choosing to push these thoughts towards the deepest recesses of my mind and enjoy what’s lying in front of me.
Have you ever felt this way about a place? How did you come to terms with disliking a destination you so wanted to love? Let me know below.
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