January 20th, 2016
I woke up this morning and walked out of Natalia’s building, crossed the street of Calle 79 Este, and opened the doors to Cafe Unido. This well-known coffee shop that we visit every morning is packed at 9am with all sorts of society: professional women with blonde, straightened hair—they are wearing heels and blazers and showcasing photos of things like interior design to clients on a laptop...other women—body builders back from the gym after a workout, enjoying their healthy breakfasts together...men in dress pants meeting for business + coffee...
I ordered with my eyes still half open—cafe con leche de almendras y uno cafe americano (Aviv likes it black!)—and stood at the coffee bar, next to the mirror where I could get a nice sleepy-eye view of everyone.
An older couple next to me ordered a large plate of scrambled eggs to share. He was a thin old man with is hair slicked back; a silver-studded belt around his waist holding his shirt in place, which was tucked into his black jeans. He had a true Arizona look. She, his wife I assume, had gold rings on her hands—simple bands on her pinky and ring fingers. Her makeup was modest + classic behind her large Chanel sunglasses; her blonde, thick hair pulled back into a bun. They split the plate of toast and eggs and we watched each other from eye-corners.
The smell of men’s cologne wafted against the bar as I waited for my drinks and stood there thinking that the language everyone understands is a smile. So I continued to smile—to eyes who met mine by happenstance—letting them know that I may be foreign, but I’m not an outsider. I never want to be an outsider.
I crossed the street with the coffees in hand and made my way back to the apartment where everyone, including Aviv, was still asleep. I planted myself at the corner of Natalia’s kitchen counter next to a view of the marina, the wind blowing in through the open glass slits of the Miami windows.
Looking out the window to the neighboring building, I was surprised to see that I wasn’t alone. An old woman was sitting down at her breakfast nook, enjoying her morning coffee and a piece of bready something. She was eating it next to the window, and in a way that showed it must be sweet and delicious inside—like a morning brioche. I watched her take a bite and then a sip, and I suddenly felt lucky to be there with her—silently, secretly, from the building next door—witnessing her enjoyment and nourishment.
I was always too much of an observer…but I can never help it! Especially this morning, when the culture of this place is emanating - vibrating off of every move people make. This is the cultural pulse I was waiting for.
I turned away and looked towards the next window facing the bay down below. Suddenly, I spot the dark silhouette of a fisherman. He stands on the rocks with the sun beating down, and with a net and a fly fishing string in hand. He tosses it into the water, and waits patiently as the string treads waves. He must live in the house standing just behind him on the little cliff (man-made with a garden and a fence). The sun is rising quickly, and hits him in a way that wipes away his color; he is like a fisherman shadow, tossing a string and a net into a sea of sparkles.
And I didn’t know it in that moment, but the next day I would wake up to see, for the first time, that the tide is low. So low, in fact, that the shore is about a kilometer away from where it was the day before—when the water was high enough to beat up against the mini-cliff of the fisherman’s house. Speaking of him, he disappears with the tide—how can you catch fish without water?
The woman next door drinking her warm drink and brioche disappears the next day too. No scrumptious confections to be had, nor a single speck of light coming from her breakfast nook.
Clearly, the people and the sights of the morning are gifts—open windows to peek into the way modern society lives here in Coco del Mar, in all their intimate moments. And I think those are the moments where you can really catch the pulse of a place. Finally, I feel it—and it’s all about the people.