Miami International has always been one of my favorite airports. First encountered on those faraway trips so many years ago to The Keys or Turks and Caicos. It was the port of call before catching a seaplane or boat to places beyond. As the doors of the plane opened the wet scented Florida air rushed into the cabin and welcomed you.
Inside the terminal, the smell of damp carpet was the eau de toilette that followed you around. Rivers of delicious-smelling green carpet guided the traveller past gates to destinations that I had only dreamt of, or read about, in the pages of Graham Greene and Ian Fleming. Port-au-Price. Port-of-Spain. Caracas. Montevideo. Sao Paolo. Miami International was, and is, a traveller’s candy shop and seeing the names of all these places made my heart miss a beat. I wanted to know them all.
The first brush with exiled Cuba is at the airport. They have their finger in every pie and it's hardly a secret that the best ones are sold in La Carreta. Notice that in Miami you always will be second and always remain a gringo. Have a café con leche and get used to both.
Alas, this trip I missed my connecting flight so I decided to stay overnight at the lofty airport hotel. It is there, and convenient. 'Nuf said. No scrumptious 'munchie boxes' in the mini bar (ahh to be in London!). At the restaurant, with panoramic view of the airport, South American cut-throats huddled around tables (Gold Shipment Vanishes in Mysterious Miami Airport Heist - ABC News May 16, 2013. A $625,000 gold shipment vanished early Tuesday in a brazen heist at Miami International Airport after it arrived aboard a jet from Ecuador, police said.) looking as if they had just made millions on a coke deal with Signor X. Hmmmm… Planes roared through the sky in the background; tail lights blinking. After a meal I wandered around the airport like a lost soul in purgatory. Gideon's angels were lurking politely. “Have you been saved?” one of them wanted to know. “Not yet,” I replied and moved on. There were shrieks of reunion and waves of regret as travellers crashed in on the tide and were sucked out on the undertow. The effect was magical, lonely, and very American.