South Florida #1: First Impressions

Ella Davies ’24 and Thomas Lu ’23, share the groups first day activities exploring Miami’s South Beach and Wynwood’s Art & Design District.

Ella Davies ’24:

Starting bright and early today at four in the morning to catch our flight was certainly shocking and exciting. Once our plane landed in Miami we didn’t waste much time starting the trip activities. At the hotel our trip briefing began and we learned more about the adventures and explorations that we would partake in. The entire group was thrilled to finally be able to start exploring South Beach and Ocean Drive after the briefing was done. Today we were tasked to be observant of our surroundings, to watch the local and nonlocal people, and how they interacted with the environment. Miu, Green, and I didn’t waste any time after we were able to start exploring the area, we soon found ourselves walking in and out of local shops while noticing all of the business around us. One thing I noticed was that it was hard to tell who was a local and who was a tourist. Everyone in the area walked with a certain confidence like they knew exactly what they were doing. Though to me this vibe made the area seem a little unconnected as everyone kept to themselves and didn’t take the time to notice others around them.

Continuing to explore the more urban side of the area I said, “You guys want to get some gelato?” and both Miu and Green were quick to agree. After stopping at a place called MamaMia for gelato, we headed down to the beach to walk back with the rest of the group; I was quick to notice the lack of swimmers in the water, and how most people were consumed with getting the perfect tan, but it is Spring Break after all. Ending the day with a delicious meal from The Mad Butcher was probably my favorite part of the day as we all played card games around the table and enjoyed our food. Thomas, Sage, Brandon, and I shared many laughs at one end of the table, while Gavin and I both agreed that The Cubano, the same meal we got, was ultimately the best.

Walking back to the hotel after dinner was really beautiful as I got to see lots of the street art and murals in the Art and Design District of Miami. This was something I found really interesting and overwhelming as I have never really experienced a place like this. “OMG look there are geese over there!” shouts Thomas as we start heading back to the hotel, and the rest of the group looks to the left to see a group of geese standing on the street corner. “Those don’t look like regular geese, those must be special Miami geese,” I respond, “because everything here seems a little special in their own ways.” Overall today was incredibly fun, tiring, amazing which makes me even more excited for the rest of the trip.

Thomas Lu ’23:

Today we traveled from Hartford, CT to Miami, FL. We left the hotel at 4:45 AM so that we could catch the 7:30 AM flight bound to Miami. After landing, we met up with our Envoys group leaders, Zach and Abi. Our task for the afternoon was to visit South Beach, watch and learn more about the social life happening around us, and bring back our own conclusions about daily life here in Miami.

Some of my notes that I wrote down included watching a rap group record a music video, observing people lifting at an outdoor gym, and noticing the old Cuban-style architecture surrounding the beach. We had a daily briefing at the hotel that night, and one of the questions that came up was for each of us to recap the one thing that stood out to us the most. My first thought was about this Portuguese Man-o’-war that we saw washed up on the beach.

I immediately thought about the insanely close proximity that we humans come in contact with wildlife. Many animals think of beaches as a safe haven, a place to lay eggs or to forage for food. But as humans, we see beaches as parties, nightlife settings, and a place to have fun and relax. So when I saw this poisonous animal pulsing, laying alive on the beach next to hundreds of sunbathers, it brought me back into perspective that the ocean is not ours to trash or ours to own.