Hablando de lo que pica el gallo…formando un arroz con mango.
The beginning of this año nuevo has been hectic in all aspects. My mom will hate that I say this but nos estamos comiendo un cable and my work and school schedule have left me with little time to be una gallinita gosadora with my favorite chick. Needless to say, there hasn’t been much “picking” going on at my end. But while my slight misfortunes have been a bit overwhelming, I can honestly say I’ve been deeply humbled by them. In the midst of my heavy schedule, I have had some wonderful eye-opening experiences that many Miami residents that I personally know won’t ever experience. Sometimes people don’t know how lucky and blessed they really are. But I should probably start from the beginning before I rant about spoiled children and adults in this melting pot of a city.
My adventure began about a month ago after the lease of my car was up y me daba pena asking a friend for another ride to work. Thus, I opted for Dade County’s public transportation. Coming fresh off a trip from New York City, where everyone relies on subway trains to get to just about anywhere, I was under the misguided impression that taking the bus to get a measly 5 and half miles would be a breeze. I’ve learned otherwise. In case many of you had heard but didn’t REALLY hear, Miami Dade County Buses are probably the most unreliable source of transportation when getting to wherever you need to on time. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit too harsh, as they don’t ALWAYS run late, but the fact that we can’t figure out a better way to get around this metropolis baffles me. I stood from the bus stop bench to stretch and release some tension and I saw Alex Hanna pointing at me, telling me not to pay for a ticket I obviously don’t have because I’m taking the bus. It dawned on me at that moment, for whatever reason, that our city’s money gets wasted on things it doesn’t need. You see, taking the bus allows me too much time to my own thoughts, which are mostly angry around the time the bus driver who has finally pulled into the curb 12 minutes late decides she still needs to take a 5 minute break. But still, I can vouch for anyone who has to walk to a bus stop in 80 degree weather while the rest of the country is freezing (trust me, I’m not so much complaining about the weather; I much rather walk in sweat than in snow) and take a bus that stops and goes in heavy Miami traffic. I suddenly realize why Cubans call the bus una guagua: because while you wait for it, all you feel like doing is crying, gua-gua-gua-gua! If any of the officials that ran this city had to take a bus from their Pinecrest and Coral Gables home’s just a few miles into their city offices, they might take the time to device a plan on how to make the system better rather than how to have us tax payers fund a stadium that a certain baseball franchise team should be responsible for. But I won’t get into that, I know how many Cubans love their beisbol and their Marlins.
Anyway, on one particular day, after I had gotten the hang of the bus system, and I nearly risked my life by dashing across a busy Bird Road to chase the transfering bus, I had to take a longer trip towards downtown via 8 street. Hopping onto a nearly empty guagua from 107th Avenue, I had a long road ahead of me. As I traveled further east, it quickly began to cram with people of all colors, nationalities, and ages. They all came from different walks of life, with their own story to tell. Students chattered away as we made our way nearly 30 minutes away from theirs schools. Vejitos with their mandados caught their balance as the bus took off before they could find a seat. I stood for an elderly lady who slowly made her way onto our bus hunched over and watched as a very fair-skinned blond man gave his wife and children seats before he found a place to stand near them.
As we made our way through the heart and soul of Miami, I watched as the hustle and bustle of this Miami life changed somewhere along my trip. The people who were on the bus with me back in Westchester were long gone and now I was with people who seemed to know this part of town better than anyone. All different kinds of Hispanic accents flooded the limited space of the bus. I passed Domino park and vowed to myself (and Lauren via text) that the day we plan a field trip to visit our viejitos en el parque, we’d take the bus to get there because the experience was like no other. La Calle Ocho had turned into its one way street and the shadows of the old shops and trees made the scene picturesque. Out through a pixelated bus window, people passed patiently. Before I knew it, the driver had turned the corner of Mary Brickell Village and we were trolling along downtown. Now people were in business suites, taking late lunch breaks, while others were moving hastily. It felt like we were in a whole new city.
Finally, I arrived to my stop at the Miami-Dade Wolfson campus, the last stop before the 8 turns and makes its trip in reverse. With my backpack on, I skipped off the bus and took a deep breath of air. I had traveled through so many different parts of the city realizing the minor differences that make it so special. It made me feel more a part of Miami than ever. An hour and a half earlier I was in a neighborhood I knew so well, that I saw everyday, and at that moment I was walking through a campus that felt so urban and city-like. I wondered how in all these years, I had missed it all.
Biscayne Boulevard greeted me after a 2 minute walk and I stood before Bayside, the sun reflecting off the high-rise condos where I’m sure many of its tenants had luxury cars sitting in the valet lot. I stood at the corner waiting for the silver walking man to appear and turned slowly, a full 360 degrees. There I was, between NE 5th Avenue and Biscayne, a place I had been often at, day dreaming of a glamorous life, living in a beautiful high-rise that over looked the ocean or the city, and I realized that standing there on foot rather than in a car was much more breathtaking than I had ever imagined. And for the first time since the new year started, I felt luckier than ever.
In these past few weeks I had felt que Dios le da barba a que no tiene quijada. Others are served on a silver platter, put on a pedestal their entire lives, or at least a good part of it, and in Miami it’s not hard to point those out. And though I feel this could be the case more often than not, I don’t fail to notice that those people tend to miss the little things that are truly beautiful and meaningful in life. So with chin or no chin, with or without a platter, on a pedestal or not, it’s these eye-opening, sometime heart wrenching, stressing and unfortunate occurrences that make me all the more stronger and somehow have managed to turn the disappointing into an extraordinary adventure called life.