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Monday, October 19, 2020

A Bit About Urutsk, Via Miami (FL.), and Other Places I have Been

Long rambling amble ahead...

 I have never lived in a truly urban environment, although it bordered my hometown; likewise, I have visited dozens of cities both domestic and overseas, and have done little traipsing through their streets, so all of this sounds very foreign and yet intriguing.

I have wandered on foot on vagrant paths through trash strewn camps in the woods, followed dry gullies for miles, and, simply wandered the riverbank of the German town in which I lived, pushing through hedgerows and trespassing farms all in my quest to find the unknown.

In the foreign cities I have visited, I have found that the shops and eateries, parks and waterfronts, were so completely welcoming and mundane that any of them could have been anywhere else.  However, second-tier roads, alleys, and courses along ancient walls were were the most interesting traffic flow circumstances occurred, often including sudden dead-ends and split-level via-ways that required unorthodox and frowned upon solutions to navigate (often in cars, but less frequently on foot).

In South Florida, truly urban areas of Miami and its multitude of victim neighbourhoods it has consumed, it was never long before one found oneself in dangerous territory, and one hood became so bad they razed almost all of the buildings to make certain they had Line of Sight (both from the ground and in the air) of everyone who entered its perimeter; night time presence was/is automatic suspicion of illicit activity.  Yet, fifteen minutes or less heading east, tropical/sub-tropical vegetation grows and isolated neighbourhoods or lone houses along canals dominate the landscape.  The further west one travels, the fewer and fewer structures exist until one enters a lawless expanse of green where lone convenience stores are necessarily under police observation from afar due to the rash of armed robberies.  Here, ranch style homes in the homesteading frontier are the rule, and gated community single entrance deathtraps are the exception.  Everything is green or fields of red rock backing in the sun, scores of miles of nothingness, or an equal number of miles of potential gator attacks.  Drug operations disguised as farms, hidden landing strips, regional airports with only bush pilot flights, also patrolled by DEA and local authorities.  The Keys are their own thing, pardon my (own) grammatical reflexiveness, each different and yet, key West and Miami's Coconut Grove and the Gables are more alike than the others which ar emore like Jacksonville, hundreds of miles to the north.  Tampa is not St. Pete, and nothing will prepare you for the difference between them and the desolation of sand dunes, sink holes, and suburban malaise which is Spring Hill.  ...yet, there are Mermaids nearby, and to see Gulf Dolphins swimming on their sides miles inland at Jenkin's Creek at sunset driving fish ashore for feeding time...nothing can compare (except what I have seen on TV of the Amazon river).

In my hometown, there were many abandoned golf courses, failed construction projects, dump sites for the same, and the whole of South Florida was once a military zone, complete with abandoned outposts, tarmac overgrown with vines and grass, and, many, many trails listed as belonging to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Even within Miami proper, there are the causeways leading to Miami Beach, and each of the neighbourhoods between them, as well as on either side (not to mention the island communities in Biscayne Bay) are different enough to be the subject of travel show episodes or tour guide books, and some have.  The food, music, culture, street art, pace of life, tolerance of interlopers, and the surprise of an admission of, 'just getting to know the city better, I'm from Hialeah/Miami Springs/etc.', hearing how many of them have been born in foreign lands, but since arrival and integration to their neighbourhood, they have travelled no further but have heard of the other side of the city, or seen it on an episode of a TV show...

Contrasted with Toronto's downtown, waterfront, suburbs, and 'nearby attractions' reached after an hour at 88 kph, Miami, Gainesville, or even, Jacksonville, are like different planets within Traveller's Third Imperium.  Tel Aviv was more like Miami Beach with Bauhaus architecture rather than Art Deco, and the outer portion of Jerusalem reminded me of Berlin, while the interior of the old city was like portions of Istanbul or Greece I had earlier visited, and as a result felt very homey and familiar.  Toronto's homeless population at the time I visited was literally enough to trip one up on the sidewalks, and depressing as hell to see a family huddled on a steam grate under a star wars blanket while other whites were completely blind to them.  Contrasted to Venice' canals with poop floating onto flooded doorways and lots of shouting between buildings, the crowded St. mark's plaza was a wonderful chaos of life, the grey people of grey city living grey lives in Toronto was bewildering (although I do love Victoria Park).  Chicutimi or however it is, was so much more vibrant and inviting (if somewhat Ithiqua-Lovecraftian); the old settlement tourist destination in which I intentionally seperated myself from my folks, and then nearly died by falling over a short wall at the edge of a hundred+ foot cliff, all of that is part of Urutsk, too.

Alright I have stop here for now.
If you are a Torontonian and feel wronged, please feel free to leave a comment, I'd love to enter into polite dialogue; and, beware the domestic cat-sized Black Squirrels.  :D