Carlos arrived in Miami a few hours after I did. When I kissed him hello he asked if I’d been drinking. “Just one Cuba Libre with Carrie,” I said. He sat down. He stared out the window. “You’ve only been here a few hours and already you’re drinking? … That’s not good,” he said.
We weren’t off to a very good start. I took his photo while telling him, “Cheer up! We’re in Miami, trick!” … That didn’t help. I promised no more drinking unless he was with me. He stopped pouting and we went for a walk.
The first order of business was to buy the boys a post card. I wanted to send it right away so it would arrive home before we did – We found a CVS and I bought one. (I later wrote the message, addressed it, put postage on it, and sent it… To this day, it has not arrived.) … While Carlos paid for the post card, I wandered outside. This dog was tied to the bike rack. I thought he was cute.
Both of us were starving so we continued to walk, in search of lunch. Carlos was looking for familiar fast food. I was looking for something new and exciting. This is a metaphor for our relationship in general. Carlos wants the comfort of the predictable. He wants things to stay the same – he wants to know what to expect. I, on the other hand, want to explore and discover. I want to try anything and everything. I think that frightens Carlos sometimes.
Eventually, Carlos relented and let me have my way, again, pretty typical for us… I think I’m just more willing to “argue to the death” as he says, and he gives up.
I was on a mission to find Cuban food. Every time someone who seemed “local” would walk by, I’d nudge Carlos and say, “Ask them!” and he’d say, “No, you ask!” … This happened a few times. When I finally got up the nerve to ask an elderly Cuban guy hobbling by with a cane, (I assume Cuban only because he was wearing a straw fedora, but I could be wrong), I realized we were standing in front of a place called “Bernie’s L.A. Café.” I saw some Cuban food on the menu in the window so we went in. The bilingual waitress was super nice, the prices were decent and the meal was simply amazing – very fresh, high quality food.
We both got the Cuban sandwich, (and tostones just because.) They served these really tasty pieces of toasted bread with a basket of different hot sauces. Mango habanero, (judging from the amount left in the bottles), is the most popular, and it was certainly my favorite.
The tostones came with “mojito dipping sauce” … I don’t know what it was made of but I need to find out. It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had. The sandwich portion was so big that we both only ate half and brought the leftovers to our room for a second meal later.
By the way, another must visit place – InStyle Cupcakes. Last time I went to Miami, Carrie introduced me to them. I like cupcakes to begin with, but with varieties like Dulce de Leche and Churro, I became a little obsessed. Since I knew we’d be back in Miami, I took to Twitter stalking them. If we’d have been given more free time, I was more than willing to invest the money in taking a taxi to visit them, but thankfully InStyle delivered a box to Carrie’s room.
Surprisingly, though I’m not crazy about fruit-flavored things most of the time, guava is my favorite. Next time I’m in Miami and don’t have such a full schedule, hopefully they’ll agree to a taste-testing tour of their actual location… for journalistic purposes of course.
Anyway, after lunch we stopped at Whole Foods which was like a block from our hotel, to buy bottled water and some snacks, etc. for our hotel room. We don’t usually shop Whole Foods cause we’re too poor, but it was a good experience. (And their sushi is awesome.)
After dropping our things off at the hotel, we went back out to make the most of our day. We met with Dean of Surropa.com, who I’ve been in touch with via E-mail, Facebook and Twitter for over a year now, but had never met in person. We had a nice chat and he gave us a lot of tips about where we should go for fun before dropping us off on Lincoln Road.
I could have walked around hand-in-hand with Carlos all night, but I had a busy two days ahead. During those busy two days, Carlos began to feel some discontent growing inside him. At first he couldn’t sort out just what he was feeling and why. I became frustrated with his negative attitude, chalked it up to simple macho jealousy issues – so we argued, (apologies to whoever slept in the room next to 307 that night.) …Once we calmed down, we talked and talked until we unraveled the problem.
It turns out, Carlos is feeling “stuck.” He see’s me following my passions and he’s proud of me, but he doesn’t feel like he’s growing or achieving anything himself – and he doesn’t know what to do about it.
I told him he needs to mix it up, try new things, and see what happens. He was resistant at first, but then he made the brave decision, against his natural tendencies, to see what possibilities are out there. I’m happy for him because I know what he’s capable of despite what he was told growing up – despite what he came to believe about himself, and despite the challenges of living in this country as an immigrant. He’s the only one whose been holding himself back.
All these years he’s supported me while I follow my passions – now I will be there for him.
Disclosure: I went to Miami at the invitation of Telemundo. I have not been paid by any companies or restaurants mentioned. All opinions are my own.