Saturday, January 5, 2013

Miami With Scott and Rachel

Scott has turned out to be quite the tour guide.  He had all of his and Rachel's days here planned out and we were invited to join them for gators and Biscayne Bay.  We do appreciate the invitation and the opportunity to spend some time with them.

We had about an hour car ride to the airboat rides in the Everglades.  Scott had researched all of these in the area and Buffalo Tiger's got the best recommendations for very personal tour guides and up-close looks at the gators.  This is actually part of the Miccosukee Indian Tribe's reservation and it was a really great tour.

 We saw about a 4-footer before ever leaving the dock.

Our guide was fantastic, nicknamed "The Beastmaster" - you'll see why shortly.  He grew up on the reservation here and is 61 years old now.  He was quite a character, had all kinds of stories, and could speak the dialect of peoples from all over the world.  Before we left the dock he told us how to tell the male gators from the female gators - "The males have the larger heads and more of a square shape OR you can pick them up, turn them over on their backs and feel around.  If you find something soon it's a male, if not, it's a female."  He said the "easier" method is to check out the size and shape of their head!!!!

The ride through the glades is definitely fast and loud.  We had a family from Korea on the boat with us.

Our first stop had a baby alligator.

 And a "chicken bird" - got it's name from the feet.  Check out the beautiful colors.  However, The Beastmaster said they do not taste good!

The Beastmaster then stunned us all at the next stop.  He started making a clicking noise with his mouth and a 6-footer starting heading our way.  He assured us some good photo shots were coming up.  He also attracted them with bread - we thought gators were strict carnivores.  He assured us they eat "anything."

He said the gator's vision is poor straight ahead, but very good toward the sides.  So, he began patting the gator from straight away and talking to it, getting its jaws to open and its head to raise up a little.

The next thing we knew, he was holding this gator by the throat, lifting it out of the water!  He said he has known these gators since he began playing with them at age 6.  Made my childhood sound a little dull and boring, or maybe his was a little crazy and dangerous!

Rhonda and Rachel thought about getting closer, but this was about it for them, and everyone else.

Our next stop was an actual former village of the Miccosukee tribe, but it has not been inhabited now for 45 years.  He assured us it was for real and not just a tourist attraction.  One of the other tour boat guides while we were at the village was a woman and he said it is tradition for one to never leave the village without starting a fire.  He also said the women do all the work and sure enough, she started a fire before their group left the site.  Now the upside to them doing all the work is that if there is ever a divorce, the woman gets EVERYTHING and the man gets NOTHING.  The lady tour guide actually lives in a similar site about 6 miles from this one.

 The Beastmaster said most of the gators generally stay in their own localized area most of their lives. One of the gators lives close by here, an up-close-and-personal shot for sure. 

The Beastmaster told us some great stories - you could tell he loves women.  He said European women always want to see his arms, legs, and chest - he wears long-sleeve shirts and long pants.  He said they naturally associate Indians with their long thick black hair and they want to see if he's hairy all over!  So, he showed us all three and they are not!  Bare as a bone and somewhat fair-skinned without the sun tanning them.

I think The Beastmaster may even be hitting on Rhonda in this pic but Scott and Rachel are keeping a close eye out for me.  Seriously, he was a really funny guy.

This was interesting - an aspirin tree.  You take the stems of the tree/bush and boil them in water, giving you pure, natural, uncompromised aspirin, not a laboratory-developed version.

Some closing thoughts on the Miccosukee tribe.  He said the Indian languages have no curse words in them as they respect all life on earth, but he has a couple he has created on his own!  On a sad note, he said the Indian tribes are now dying out, succumbing to diabetes and alcohol.

This was definitely a great stop - good job, Scott.  We left the wild and uninhabited state of the Everglades for the big city of Miami, enjoying a Greek meal at Maria's in between the two.  Scott had us planned for a tour boat ride in the cruise ship part of The Port of Miami.  Here's our boat, Miami Lady.

There were about 5 or 6 cruise ships in port.

The skyline of Miami is pretty spectacular from a distance and up close.

 A special part of the ride was a tour of famous people's homes.  Here is (was) Liz Taylor's.  There is a rabbit statue in front that was a gift from her good friend Michael Jackson "representing her jumping like a rabbit from one marriage to the other."

Here's a closeup of the rabbit statue.

And this one belongs to the founder of Viagra - you can imagine all the one-liners that were out there on this one.  I believe the price was around 50 million and it took 3 years to build it!  The palm trees out front were shipped in from Africa at a cost of $10K each.  Here's the house, or in Miami vernacular, the "mansion."  Hope you can see the color of the water also.

Some of the other names that were mentioned during the cruise were Shaquille O'Neal, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Rosie O'Donnell, Al Capone, and a bunch of Latin-American singers I've never heard of.  The tour guide specifically mentioned Puff Daddy also (I have no idea who that is), noting that he had more names than hits!  Several of the homes were also film locations for movies such as Scarface and Cocoon.  It was fun and a good time was had by all.

Scott and Rachel dropped us off at the boat and I immediately went to the couch for a nap.  Later in the evening, Scott and Rachel surprised us with another visit to deliver our Christmas present.  They have been making fun of our out-dated camera and decided to upgrade us to new levels.  Thanks Scott and Rachel.  And you blog-followers can now expect better pictures starting with the next post.

Scott and Rachel are taking today to tour some art galleries and the beach I think.  Rhonda is out on a bike and walking tour on her own to see what we have missed and is trying out the new camera.  

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