Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Small Island Packs a Huge Wallop

(Our Ferry to Key West)
On Wednesday; I left my paint brushes and canvases behind to join my husband and our friends on a one-day trip to Key West. When we arrived at Fort Myers Beach it was still bright and early. Too late we discovered that others had beaten us to the punch. There were only a few seats left on the boat as we boarded.

After four long hours of bobbing and bouncing across the water, meeting new people and watching a movie, we arrived. We decided to take a train ride around the island to orient our sea legs and find out what the island had to offer. Big mistake! After our two-hour journey, we had only 3.5 hours left to eat and get back to the ship.

We enjoyed a magnificent lunch and friendly chatter only to discover we were running out of time. We didn’t make it back to tour Earnest Hemingway's home or the Harry S. Truman domain. We learned that an overnight stay is a must if you’re going to really experience Key West. We heard the night life is unbeatable!

We learned that the island has no water supply and depends almost entirely on rainfall which is captured in huge tanks. Because of the moisture, tin roofs are being replaced with stainless steel. Most of the island is very old and has a rich history. The newer areas are located on the boardwalk that frames the harbor where new restaurants are in abundance.

Key West was once a wild life preserve. The locals had their own livestock as well. Today Chickens and roosters are protected on Key West and run wild everywhere. I tried to snap a photo, but they are also very fast!

The island is much smaller than I anticipated. Most people rent mopeds or bicycles for getting to and from work or for sightseeing. If we do get back, we definitely would stay overnight. During “Season,” however, the average rate is $279 per night and up. We were told there were two cheaper hotels, but I’m sure they were booked solid.

The weather is always temperate. The restaurant we ate in had no air conditioning, but had ceiling fans which brought the exotic air in from the open windows and doors. The food was excellent. Prices are inexpensive to moderate during the day and somewhat higher at night.

There is a large artist population and gays have put their stamp on the community. One hotel boasted “all men,” while a restaurant/museum suggested that “clothes are optional.” They may have been making reference to the bathing suit and bikini clad patrons or they may have meant what they said. Since we had no time to explore, we never found out.

What I will always remember are the tropical plants, colorful flowers, and unusual trees. Above all else, the exquisite tropical blue waters have left their imprint on my artist’s heart and soul forever.

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