Gulfstream Park: "Bambuca"


November 26, 2006

Querida Familia y Amigos,

Bambuca. Yes, Bambuca. At least I think that is what she said...Oye!...

My friend Gail and I are sitting at the bar at "Serenata." Two attractive shapely young bartenders are wearing sexy, slightly revealing little short black dresses.  As they lean a bit forward in my direction to scoop up ice from the bin below, I catch a glimpse of two smooth enticing uninhibited whirling entertainers on the platforms above this enormous dance palace.

As the name "Serenata" implies, the music is mostly Latin and Hot! The twelve piece band sends out Latin songs and rhythms that make you want to twist and turn and bounce even sitting on your bar stool. High-pitched flute and violin and trumpet and low-pitched trombone and an assortment of percussion pound away and remind me of similar dance halls in "El Bronk" where I first learned to appreciate this flavorful music. Anyone remember "El Club Tropicoro" on Southern Boulevard?

The beat is mostly rapid and raucous. Meringue. Salsa. Mambo. Cha-cha-cha. Later the band slows to a warm, gentle, inviting rhythm that I do not recognize. So, I ask. Just down the bar two Latin ladies are gyrating to the sounds. One is tall and slim and totally gorgeous. The other is feminine and smiling and wearing one of those short dresses with the frilly skirt. When she moves, everything moves. I motion to her with a friendly wave and she comes over to visit Gail and me. I ask about the music. What is this rhythm called? She says it's complicated, but I press her for an answer. She says, "bambuca" (I think). Cuba? I ask. No, she responds emphatically. Colombia!

When the band takes a break, the DJ confirms I am in an appropriate place when he spins "La Macarena" and "Y.M.C.A."

Next to "Serenata" is "Ten Palms Restaurant." Another cavernous venue with a large buffet offering.

And next to the restaurant is "The Casino." Hundreds of the Usual Suspects are dropping coins into clanking, whistling, flashing slot machines.

All of this is just secondary to the real reason for the existence of this newly rebuilt complex ... horses. Thoroughbred Horses.

By now, of course, you have guessed that I have returned to Miami, to Aventura, my old neighborhood on Biscayne Boulevard and to Gulfstream Park, the "track" nearby. Since its total demolition and reconstruction, Gulfstream Park is now called Gulfstream Park - Racetrack and Casino - just a little bit of Vegas within walking distance of my apartment. And as for the hot music and the hot girls, hey, this is South Florida and just a little bit of South Beach here at North Miami Beach.

As we depart, Gail and I register for Player's Cards. No, sports-fans, I don't expect to be gambling or handicapping any time soon. The card gets me a discount at the buffet!!!

And speaking of food, we began the evening at a local Thai restaurant! I had a chance to try the few words I know and show some photos to the Thai ladies working as servers. They were delighted to speak with me and they loved the photos.

I must admit that I am enjoying myself here. I have spent time with my father and his wife, and my nephew and his family. For the first time in many years, we were all together for Thanksgiving. And right now the weather is perfect...sunny and cool - mid 60's to mid 70's (18-24 C).

But my heart is still "on the road." Next month I plan to visit Belize and possibly other countries in Central America. And last night I booked my return to Bangkok on 16 January.

In the meantime, I've got that Buffet on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and "Salsa Meringue" on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The beach on Sunday. And who knows? Maybe a couple of tickets on a couple of ponies?

Bueno mis amigos: "Come on over" or "Come on down."

Baile! A gozar!


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