The last time we came to Miami with Jimmy (for our 50th) we had the opportunity to catch up with a long-time friend of mine (Brad) from back in the late 1980’s and beyond.
We were idiots together back in the day when there was no photographic evidence of the stupidity that we got up to.
This sort of relationship has a solid and unrelenting basis and when we have come together several times before, after long periods, and time had stood still. This is the way for many of my long-term relationships with the boys. So over time Brad had turned himself into a superyacht captain and has been running his world from Fort Lauderdale (with the odd stints in the Mediterranean) for the last 20-plus years.
Upon arrival, he picked us up and took us for a tour around his office for the last 7 or so years. The ship was in dry dock and was undergoing a full refit, but it was clear that he had truly been doing it tough.
Other than just catching up with an old mate was the pure envy of being able to hear about his recent holiday.
Brad and his wife Keri had spent the preceding month or so touring around South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
They bounced around the Okavango Delta, various Game Preserves and National Parks, even taking in the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls.
So the opportunity to hear first hand about this trip was to be amazing.
The idea of doing a South African safari has been a long-time bucket list item that keeps getting benched due to the extreme prices charged. I have friends who have done this and the prices have been in the $35,000 range for a couple of weeks holiday. Needless to say, this is way beyond a grotty backpacker’s budget. The extreme prices pay for a good and reputable operator, and having heard some of the stories, it is better to pay than go with a cheaper cowboy-style operator.
Add to this the fact that Brad had spent the last decade or two teaching himself to be an amazing photographer. We got to see his Rolls Royce shots and not just the snapshot sample that I poached from his and Keri’s Facebook posts. It truly was an amazing trip and by all accounts was worth the money, as a once in a lifetime experience.
OK so back to our bit, our first port of call (after our boat tour) was to Pompano Beach, a trendy beachside area of Fort Lauderdale. We sampled the local beers from a little microbrewery that will be burned into my taste buds. I have never been a fan of fruity microbrewery beers made by hipsters with man buns…and it seems I am still not.
Sadly, this is where the wheels fell off the plans that Brad and Kerry had for us.
We had a good catch-up on the first night where we sampled a fine Nicaraguan sugar free rum.
Waking up a little dusty Brad and I had a quiet sort of day until he took a COVID test and set the thing off like an alarm.
They had planned all of this stuff for us to see and do but it all went out the window with that one positive test result. This did not upset us at all as we were happy to just chill and catch-up, and do our domestics (the dreaded travellers laundry curse). Add to this that they both cook very well so we kicked back and ate at home rather than hitting the town. But they had concert tickets to people they really wanted to see and had been planning trips to show off Fort Lauderdale and surrounds.
That said, we still managed to get out and about and see things, just not to the level that they had hoped. We got to the beach, walked along the pier, checked out some local artworks, sampled some restaurants and bars. We just did it in a masked up and avoiding all others, COVID safe sort of way.
We headed into downtown fort Lauderdale and checked out the riverfront walk while generally just soaking up the beauty of a town built on the water. On one of our drives I asked how far Boca Raton was (mainly from hearing about it in TV shows), so we drove up there and bounced around too.
As we were on the leadup to Christmas, the town lighting displays had started. There was one home that had taken this to the extreme. So while nobody was in good shape, we made the short hop to see the most ridiculous house in the area.
While our time in Fort Lauderdale was not what Brad and Keri had planned, a good time was still had and it was fantastic to catch-up with a mate. We will be transiting Miami a few more times before we leave, so maybe we can get another catch-up in when everyone is healthy.