I grew up in Miami, Florida, which back in those days called itself “The Magic City.” It was, for a lot of us, the city by the bay — I learned to swim in Miami, I learned to canoe there, and to sail, and I snorkled my first coral reef just south of Miami. It was the place that inspired my appreciation of water.
It’s got the Miami where a pelican may crash land into your car windshield.
It’s got the Miami that is home to America’s first underwater park.
It’s got the Miami where there are free-range peacocks; where only one-quarter of the residents claim English as their first language; where I-95 actually begins — with a ramp peeling unceremoniously off U.S. 1, and if you take that ramp and stay with it, it leads all the way to Maine.
Ostensibly, “Terminal Miami” is about how Sicha learned not to be afraid of flying. And so it’s got the Miami that features a miles-long queue of jet planes, out over Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, floating in to land, often six or eight lined up in the sky at once. At night, their landing lights dazzle.
But the airport is just an excuse to write about South Florida, a place wedged between the bay and the swamp. “Terminal Miami” packs more vivid writing, and more feeling, into a few paragraphs than anything I’ve read recently. It can make you homesick for Miami, even if you’ve never lived there.
Charles Fishman is an award-winning investigative journalist and New York Times bestselling author who has spent the last four years traveling the world to understand and explain water issues. He is the author of The Big Thirst.