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Florida Fitness

When God created different languages as punishment for mankind's arrogance for building a tower to reach heaven, He probably never imagined the kaleidoscope of ethnic groups I see on a regular basis during my run along Miami Beach.

Pearl Jam screams in my headphones and propels my 37 year old legs, stiff and uncooperative this morning:
"Oh please don't go on me now...I swear I never took ya for granted...I suppose I abused you..."

I approach German tourists wearing their white socks and Teva sandals, innocently napping against their metal-framed backpacks. As a Miamian, I feel remotely responsible and vow to myself to check on them on my way back. Ahead, a group of Cuban laborers fills the air with chatter and I remember the time I saw three rafts that had washed ashore marked with green INS lettering. One was simply styrofoam under soggy boards, a crude wooden mast and a sail made of upholstery material.

I pass Orthodox Jews looking austere and slightly Amish. Spit-curls hang down like sideburns and Yarmulkes are attached to the few remaining hairs on their heads. Three women in ill-fitting wigs squat in the surf, taking their monthly ritual baths.

Halfway through my run I hear a strange hissing sound I attribute to my Walkman. Then I see a feral pack of males drinking Schlitz concealed in penny-candy size paper bags. I realize the hissing comes from them...sssss....The term "wilding" comes to mind. I pick up my pace.

I pass two Salvadorean nuns in pastel habits and a group of Haitians, their faces twisting with laughter as they watch some Japanese tourists pose for a photo. Middle American conventioneers in hotel bathrobes step onto the boardwalk, slurping coffee. The backpacking Germans are gone. I end where I began, and do cooldown stretches. Pearl Jam finishes and I go get ready for my workday, feeling like I've taken a little trip around the world.