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Miami: Calle Ocho

I recently went back home for my annual visit. Living away from home is bittersweet. I always miss it around the same time of year and every time I do go back I ask myself why did I ever leave. My family and childhood friends are all in Miami, the food touches my soul, the music that fills the air moves my heart, and the sunshine revives my aura. Some things stay exactly the same while other aspects have changed entirely. 

One of the worst parts about living in Seattle is that I am now literally on the opposite side of the country so traveling back home isn't just a hop & skip away. It's a very long and exhausting 7 hour flight and usually puts be back an entire day when I travel. I love seeing the drastic change in terrain as I make my way across the U.S. however. 

On my journey home I met an aspiring magician. We were lucky enough to be the only ones on the plane without another flyer in between us. We had some deep conversations about his life and what ultimately made him decide on doing street performances as a magician for a living. He was heading to South Beach to get to know the Miami Beach scene and experience it's true glory right on the avenue. It was exciting to get to sit next to someone who had so much life in them and so much life ahead of him. At only 20 years of age, he traveled alone but preferred it. Mario was not only great company but also full of entertainment on my way home. Let's just say he has many tricks up his sleeve. 

Once I landed, my first thought was to have some quality time with my grandfather who was turning 91 years old. Yep, not a typo, NINETY ONE YEARS OLD. I got to not only spend his birthday with him, but also go to surprise him as he did not know I was even coming to visit. I took a few film shots of him on his glorious day. (Also- peep my Quinces photo on the top left, ha!)

A few days later I got to spend sometime shooting the famous Calle Ocho with my friend Chris. One thing I noticed was that I saw everything differently. Suddenly, the houses were more colorful, the streets were louder, and the things I never thought to photograph all of a sudden were so photogenic. I came to Miami with a different eye, different from the ones I used to see my entire childhood. 

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After I got my fix of Calle Ocho I went to 'El Rey de Las Fritas' and had my favorite food in all of Miami, a Frita con queso. Bellies full, we headed to Key Biscayne to catch sunset with more friends of mine. I missed how blue the waters were here and how the skyline traced the horizon. 

Having beautiful friends is always a plus when you need someone to model for you. Landscapes to me always look better with someone who brings out the vibrance in the world out more. 

I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend a day out in my hometown. Great food, music, friendships, sunsets, epic oceanic views, and most important of all, love. I felt like I never left home and that's exactly how it should always feel.  

Canon 5D MK IICanon 40mm f/2.8 | Leica M6 | Portra 400 VC | Canon EOS 1N | Portra 400

Erica Simas