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Background: Spring break is a week in late March or early April when all universities in the US give off. This is the time when all underage American college students flock to Mexico, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica or Puerto Rico and (completely legally) pass into drunken oblivion for the duration of the vacation. The most visited attractions during the break include booze cruises, bar hopping tours, and beach raves. The large majority of students come back from Spring Break with face piercings, shaved eyebrows, tattoos, or STDs. The most frequent ways of describing the Spring Break experience are “whatever happens in (insert location), stays in (insert location)” and “shit went down”.
I thought for me, a calmer trip to a relaxing tropical US destination was in order this year, so I decided to visit my good friend in Miami, FL (read about our trip to Disney World). As it turns out, Miami was very well prepared for the Spring Break invasion.
During the day, we were sunbathing in South Beach literally under the surveillance of a squad of policemen. They were walking up to every single beach towel or lounge chair and looking around for open containers, illegal substances, or suspicious behavior. It was hilarious that they were all dressed up in uniforms and equipped with truncheons and handguns under the scorching sun while the vacationers were chilling or fooling around in the sand. I’m not sure if I felt secure or amused by the police’s presence.
I also noticed that open containers are forbidden outdoors in South Beach. However, smoking is allowed in clubs and bars. In the same time, it is illegal to sunbathe topless on the public beach in Miami, so people have to go to special adult pools to enjoy that privilege.
The beach in Miami is also very wide and without any buildings on it. Ocean Drive and the beach bars are very far from the shoreline, and so are hotels. In contrast, the Bulgarian shore at our top resorts Sunny Beach and Golden Sands is scattered with beach bars that blast techno day and night or lounges with white cushions where you can grab a mojito or a bowl of watermelon and listen to some chill out music. As cool and fun as our beaches are, our bars and hotels unfortunately eat up a lot of the beach, and thus force many people to look for alternative, uninhabited beaches. Fortunately, in Bulgaria you can always drink alcohol and go topless at the beach (and not only there)!
At night, Miami seems even more like a CSI episode. The police had cut off one lane of a street and were making every single car go through a DUI check (driving under the influence is a very, very major offence in the States). The officers were pulling over certain cars and going through them with a detection dog! As my friend, a University of Miami law student said, such random search operations are completely anti-constitutional, and the criterion for pulling a car over is that the driver looks Latino or black! But then again, I guess in Miami it feels like Spring Break all year long, so maybe all this police presence is justified!
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