Miami Madness

“…And what is the purpose of your visit?”

“Pleasure” I calmly answer; and with that one word my passport is embossed with an admittance stamp.

“Welcome to America Mr. Crobs”

Fresh of a 9 hour flight a quintet of pasty Scots strode out of Miami International Airport and into a muggy thunderstorm. The mid-July weather can be temperamental in this part of the world but we didn’t care. University was over and our summer adventure was about to begin. Home was 4000 miles across the Atlantic, and this morning just a distant memory. We hopped in a cab, dumped our bags at the Backpackers Hostel and grabbed some Rustica Pizza. I had pepperoni and a meat feast; plenty of ‘carbs’ were just what we needed to line our stomachs for the night ahead. Back in our dorm we met Juan from Venezuela. He was travelling alone and filled the room’s solitary bunk following our arrival. Sweat patches began to appear on his freshly ironed shirt as he battled with both the heat and our strong dialect. His outfit was completed with some smart jeans, polished work shoes and a large Armani belt. One suspected that he would not be frequenting the same establishments as us that evening, and a quick glance at my fellow flip-flop and short wearers confirmed this hunch. This guy had to go!

Ditching Juan we headed down to the bar to collect our wristbands and $15 kegger where we met some rowdy Aussies. I’d been on the go for 15 hours at this point and ‘One Can Dan’ syndrome was kicking in. We ‘crawled’ to a bar under the name Automatic Slims, with promises from the proprietor of topless girls and dirt-cheap booze, neither of which materialised. As Endy was purchasing yet another round of syringed jelly shots, however, we were approached by an English dude who straight from the bat you could tell was going to provide comedy value. “Alright fellas, my name’s Paul and I’m just here on business from Orlando. You guys happen to be single?” Shiftily we nodded in agreement. “E-X-C-E-L-L-E-N-T, well if you need a wingman you know where to look.” Glancing around we saw no one else in the vicinity and it dawned on us that he might actually have been referring to himself. It was 3am by this point and we hastily made an exit, knowing fine well that this wouldn’t be the last time we saw his Cheshire cat grin. Back at the hostel I quickly sharked a Japanese girl at pool and then crashed out on the bottom bunk next to the A/C unit.

I awoke sharply the next morning, icicles dangling from my nose whilst the others tossed and turned relentlessly in their sleep. Bloody air-con! With the hangover already starting to kick in I applied some sun-cream – one of the few essential items in my backpack – and shook the others from their dreams. We marched the whole stretch along Miami Beach to the International House of Pancakes (IHOP), passing countless runners and roller-bladders. This city liked to stay active. Stuffed to the brim with blueberries and maple syrup we left a tip and headed to Lincoln Mall where I burned a $7 hole in my wallet in the form of a warm celery and kale smoothie. At least I know my gag reflex still works. The taste remained in my mouth all the way back to the hostel until it was washed away by some watery tacos in the company of our new roommate Fouzi from Israel. Juan had clearly not taken a liking to us either.

Kings was the name of the drinking game and vodka, courtesy of British Airways, was the primary weapon of choice. Round and round we went and the pint glass encircled by the quickly began to fill with 7/11 milk, flat coke, Tropicana, hefty doses of vodka and a serving of chilled Magners. Around this time, Fouzi appeared from downstairs with a gasoline canister filled with what we took to be rum, and having poured most of it down our throats topped up the pint glass with the remains. Screen pulled out the 4th king and was punished by having to down the lethal concoction whilst performing a ‘mangina’. Video evidence does exist but has been sworn to secrecy.

Ensuring that our companion would at least make it downstairs without vomiting up the mixture we donned our kilts and headed to the bar for some cocktails. Paul appeared like a phantom out of nowhere, with his pale complexion haunting over us. He claimed to have rented a Mustang for $10 a day, but when we asked to see it replied that it was currently asleep in a multi-story car park. I was taken back to the episode of Friends in which Joey pretends to own a Ferrari that was actually just some boxes covered by a sheet. Paul instantly made way for two dynamite Canadian girls who also turned out to be auditors. Teeing them up for later we continued to wander, getting compliments on our attire from people left right and centre, including a guy with a face shaped like a spade and am extremely friendly topless Samoan whose sole interest seemed to be challenging people to down drinks. We happily obliged and as the booze started to run low liquid confidence was on the rise. We jumped on a party bus that took us to Nikki Beach – a club/lounge with a dance floor that sprawls out onto the golden sands. The bouncers loved the traditional dress, but not enough to deny us entry upstairs due to our lack of ‘trousers’. Sneaking up anyway we got cosy with some Latinas before being kicked straight back down. Never mind, this problem would be resolved by approaching the Canadian birds from earlier that were conveniently chilling outside.

After a swift rejection we finally made amends on the downstairs dance floor as the music took us away. Memories get blurry at this point but the next thing I recall is hammering on the door of our dorm after leaving an in-depth conversation with some Irish lads in the pizzeria next door. My watch read 5am.

I had obviously learned my lesson from the night before and in my drunken haze had managed to grab the bunk farthest from the air-con unit as possible. The oversight was, however, that I now had to physically peel myself off the sheets due to the humidity. The basic physics of ‘hot air rises’ obviously gets lost after scores of refills. This unpleasant scenario was quickly forgotten though as I peered over the bunk to notice Gadams sporting possibly the worst tank-top tan I’d ever seen. Covering himself in aloe-vera he suggested heading back to Lincoln Mall for what would at this time be considered lunch. I paid $10 for what was essentially a lettuce Panini as Gadams’, and now more noticeably Skills’, tan lines led to the birth of 3rd degree T-shirts. Keep an eye out for the 2014 summer line looks of: Inferno, Rising Sun, Hot Sauce and Phoenix.

We wandered past Miami Ink Studios to get an essential photo and then myself and Gadams headed back to the hostel for some ping-pong whilst the others went to take in some more city vistas. We were about 7 games into a heated series when Screen suddenly comes bursting through the hostel doors screaming something in an accent that would only be understood by a fellow West Lothian. After briefly catching his breath he then repeats: “Vitaly is filming at the Beach!”

With these 6 words myself and Gadams immediately flung the bats to the floor and sprinted out of the hostel towards the sea, leaving Screen still gasping for breath. For those of you who don’t know, Vitaly is a Youtube star who has become notoriously famous for playing hidden camera pranks on the public, and having been loyal subscribers for quite a while we had joked constantly over the last few days about how awesome it would be to meet him in person. Now was our chance.

Powering along 9th street we spot Endy and Skills messing about with the cameramen, and as soon as we approach the lens is right on our faces. “Hey guys, today we’re filming ‘How to pick up girls with fans’ are you interested in giving it a shot?”

When in Rome.

In a blur I find myself being hooked up with a mic and battery pack whilst Vitaly explains the concept. I was to approach different groups of women and repeat the lines that he fed to me through an iPhone earpiece. Black girls apparently gave the best reactions so I was to target them. For the next hour or so I found myself stalking the promenade and opening with lines such as “gingers have no soul”, “I love me a bit of dark chocolate” and “can I lick Nutella off your booty” – all evoking varying reactions. The footage that ended up being selected involved a proposal to a bewildered mid-30s Italian woman who clearly wasn’t up for a ‘Little White Chapel’ drive-thru wedding whilst holiday-making.

We could have stayed all day but it was getting dark and there was a flight to catch. Spadeface was heading North to New York and Paul was still hanging around the hostel as we were checking out. How much work was actually being accomplished on this ‘business trip’ of his was becoming more and more debateable. We arrived at the airport 3 hours early due to Gill’s mild paranoia induced by the owner of Rustica’s travel warnings and urge to split a litre of whiskey among 6 before we departed. We had been in North America for only 48 hours when we crossed the equator en-route to Lima, but as the pilot attempted to find what was potentially every pocket of turbulence in the Southern hemisphere home seemed a distant memory. This wasn’t the last time we would cross paths with an amateur sommelier holding a bottle of malt… and there were plenty other characters awaiting us in the Peruvian Mountains, Bolivian Salt Flats, Argentinian Cityscapes and Brazilian Favelas.

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