It's only been twenty minutes since the “Island Queen” sailed from the Bay of Miami docks.
We passed under the large viaduct on Port Boulevard. The line of gray skyscrapers is set at our shores against the blue sky almost clear of fog or clouds.
The flag of the Land of Opportunity remains attached to the stern of the vessel but, from the angle we see it, it flutters, with its stars & stripes on an even higher plane.
We did not take long to navigate the first personal expressions of success achieved in the US fashion. “To your right is anchored Mr. Mark Cuban's fabulous yacht, which everyone should know from the “Lago dos Tubarões” program.
Thereafter, as we approach the west coast of Miami Beach, the narrator on duty does little more than announce other ships and mansions.
They are all owned by celebrities and millionaires, Americans but not only, some less exposed than others.
Miami's Countless Billion Mansions
With some ridiculous meters of vegetation separating them, the Instagram inventor's house, Ricky Martin's, followed. A mansion used by Shakira and Usher in filming of videoclips and, accordingly, one of the houses of the rapper Puff Daddy. “This is by Tomas Cramer, a German architect.” adds the narrator. “He complained that Miami was too hot.
Installed air conditioning throughout the interior. Not satisfied, he also installed a system out that cost nearly $100.000. Next is Phillip Frost's summer home, Mr. Viagra, or Mr. Blue, as he is better known. Each of the 32 palm trees you see in that garden came from Africa at a unit cost of $10.000.
The mansion only costs 60 million dollars.” The second largest house in the area belonged to Elisabeth Taylor and Eddie Fischer, one of her many husbands. In the garden, there is a black rabbit given by Michael Jackson. Others, smaller, belonged to Sylvester Stallone and David Beckham. Like the Brazilian Xuxa.
Singer Gloria Estefan's included a four million dollar recording studio. On Fisher Island, almost touching the big island of Miami Beach and accessible only by boat and helicopter, there were mansions of Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Sophia Loren, Boris Becker, so he continued to present the hostess at the microphone while the passengers, dazzled, turned now to port, now to starboard.
Miami reveals this and more. Much more, of course, than the DNA and laboratory intrigue of “Dexter” and, much earlier, from “Miami Vice” where excerpts from countless episodes were filmed in those same waters and on the docks we had before us.
Obsession with Fitness at Lummus Park
It is in Miami Beach, in particular, that all the symptoms of heightened prosperity and fame or yearning to reach them wash over. We return to the dock and disembark.
Afterwards, we drive via the A1A road and bridge to the opposite coast of the big island and feel its vibrations with the soft sun of the fake local winter massaging our increasingly tanned faces.
Countless young people – others not so much – obsessed with their physical shape and appearance follow each other on the irregular walk that zigzags between the coconut trees of Lummus Park and follows the Caribbean Sea.
They do it on the run, on roller skates or on a bicycle, on advanced skateboards or towed by stray dogs.
In a stronghold of beauty and class like this privileged strip of Florida, no one wants to be weak.
If the weather does not even invite you to stay at home, the sculptural and golden bodies of the stars serve as an unquestionable motivation for any exercise.
We stop in front of a kind of outdoor gym that groups bars of different heights, walls, tires and some other mobile auxiliary equipment.
Dedicated bodybuilders from different groups attend it in an unstable relationship, far from harmony.
We approach and engage them in conversation, when their cycle of repetitions and rest allows. Once some initial mistrust was overcome and at your pace, we realized the dynamics of your relationship.
Lazar Novovic and Dusan Djolevic were studying in the US when they met through a friend.
The Calisthenic Movement of the Bar Brothers and Hannibal the King
supporters of street workout, focused on transforming their lives, found a motivational video by Hannibal for King, a street bodybuilder from New York idolized in the USA and around the world.
A strong inspiration to create the Bar Brothers, their own movement of well-being and determination in today's international life.
We are lucky to find the three of them together.
Lazar and Dusan are busy filming a video with Hannibal and, at the same time, doing their own exercises. It is Hannibal who we photograph the most and who dedicates most of his time to us. “My story is curious: I broke my hands very seriously.
The doctors told me I would never be able to use them properly again. I ignored them and followed an alternative treatment that included a series of calisthenics exercises.
At a certain point, I found myself addicted to these exercises and highly motivated by the progress.
Hannibal's Intense and Exercised Life
I took exercise to the extreme, shaped my entire body and started creating motivational videos to help other people reach difficult goals. Today, I travel the world showing what I do and inspiring other athletes.
Don't think it's easy. I have two wives, three daughters and only one son.
When I'm in New York I live surrounded by women. To get away with it, I go out with my son, but even so, I'm always hearing accusations for living with other fit women…”
We asked Hannibal the King for one last photo.
Hannibal shows us an extreme position known as a flag, with his body stretched out horizontally using one of the side bars as an axis.
Afterwards, we said goodbye to him and the group, wondering if it wouldn't be a good idea to better prepare ourselves for our travels, to follow at least part of his techniques and teachings.
The Long Caribbean Beach of Miami Beach
The morning comes to an end. The beach directly opposite is made up and lifeguards are replaced at the end of the first shift of the day.
They ensure the continuity of your Bay Watch from the top of the typical lifeguard huts of these places, so exuberant and in a good mood that foreign bathers surround them one after the other with mobile phones at the ready and determined to photograph themselves with them as a souvenir.
We are already well out of the cyclone season and not even the wind that is felt affects the gentleness in which the Caribbean Sea unfolds.
All the huts have purple flags hoisted, which intrigues us.
We asked a bathroom on the cabin's porch what the color means.
He answers us with a haughtiness and dryness that we have become accustomed to from those who have a place of authority in the USA, however insignificant it may be: “Jellyfish, we detected a few jellyfish in the water”.
We contemplate the nearby sea dotted with figures. The fact that it is a family nuisance and, we would like to believe, small, does not deter us from a well-deserved dive. While we splash in the water, advertising zeppelins fly over us.
Offshore, a barge navigates that displays advertisements on a panel.
We thought we knew the bathing universe in depth. We should have predicted that on a beach in the US, something new would appear.
Ocean Drive and Surrounding Area, Miami Beach Art Deco
But if Miami Beach innovates, it does so with an entrepreneurial respect for its historic heritage. We return to the interior of the island in the late afternoon.
We were housed in The Hall, a boutique hotel that had adapted one of Miami Beach's 1200 Art Deco structures (the largest concentration in the world), most built between 1923 and 1943.
Around, several others stood out for the architecture of the time.
In particular, Park Central, between 6th and 7th street, a frequent stop for classic Hollywood stars: Clark Gable, Rita Hayworth, Carole Lombard and the like, characters that match the golden age of some colorful jalopies parked there under Valet Parking.
In our view, one of the most opportunistic and irritating commercial pests in the US
With sunset setting in and bathers returning from the sand to the realm of concrete and asphalt, we find ourselves attracted by the call of Ocean Drive.
The neons of the Boulevard, Colony and Starlite hotels soon devour the daytime pastel tones of the buildings and seize the color of that glamorous marginal avenue.
Thus, they signal the reopening of the crazy nightlife of the neighbourhood.
Soon, bars like Churchill's Pub – run by the UK – attract a heterogeneous horde of recycled punks, curious hipsters and metalheads or whatever kind of fans of the bands that play live there without any coherence of gender or notoriety.
Something similar happens at the Liv, despite being housed inside the Fontainebleu hotel and, as such, far more exclusive than Churchill's or Nikki Beach, this one, based in several cabins and equipped with bars tiki on the sand of SoBe Beach, South Beach of Miami Beach.
At that time, the most visible excitement is still that of a growing line of island visitors who want to photograph themselves in front of the famous Miami Beach clock/thermometer on the threshold of Lumus Park.