I suppose the most important thing about this trip is the wonder of being able to see it without the inconvenience of glasses. I was wiser than I knew in getting fitted for contacts before leaving. The sun is positively tropical down here; I am closer to Cuba than the US mainland, as all the tourist information literature likes to constantly remind me. So, it is pretty much imperative that I have the ability to wear heavy duty sunglasses at all times. Also? The difference contacts have made in allowing me to accurately see through the viewfinder of my camera has been miraculous.
I took this photo earlier today while touring the butterfly house:
Would you even look at that? Wow. Even if I do say so my damn self. I have more amazing shots of that field trip that I'll try to control myself from posting. Probably unsuccessfully.
We touched down in Miami on Sunday at around 9 a.m. After a hellacious wait at the car rental place that included a very close encounter with a hispanic lady sporting a hair-do exactly like that of a show shihtzu and a really bad attitude. There are four of us but, since at least three of us were insistent on convertible vehicles, we ended up with two cars so we could actually haul ourselves AND our luggage.
I had envisioned the trek from Miami to Key West as taking maybe a few hours. Wrong. It took us all day to travel those 150 miles. There is no interstate access to the keys, a two lane (sometimes four lane) highway on which top speed averages around 50 mph is the only access route. And we did not travel at top speed very often.
We arrived tired and hungry at around 5 p.m. and were ecstatic to finally check in. Those who know me well know that the place where I'm staying is "clothing optional" at the pools and I've been threatening for weeks to opt out of mine on this trip. That actually happened the first night and then again last night and I'm guessing every night until I leave. Only in the hot tubs, though, where the bubbles obscure any really serious exposure. I'm saying that's not cheating. Also not cheating is my blood alcohol level that I work hard to keep at a level beyond legally intoxicated.
It's okay because we don't have vehicles; we rented bikes for the week on which we can easily get to anywhere we want to go on the island.
I fulfilled a life long dream yesterday when I toured Earnest Hemingway's house:
A very nice place, but most remarkable perhaps were the lush gardens on the grounds:
And the famous six-toed cats, descendants of Hemingway's original kitty. Here one snoozes near the front porch:
Hemingway did much of his KW writing in a detached guest house where he kept an office:
I tried hard to inhale and or absorb any lingering talent molecules. (As if.) Can't resist posting this photo of Papa's pool which he paid the then exorbitant price of $20,000 to have constructed:
I can't get over the color of the ocean water around here. It is not the slate blue or steely grey of the Atlantic or the lighter blue of the Pacific, but a true aquamarine that I would have thought didn't happen until further into the Caribbean. But then again, I suppose this IS the edge of the Caribbean.
It is gorgeous, and prettier in person than the photos.
They say goodnight to the sun here every day with a large gathering of hundreds of people on the pier. Everyone frantically snaps photos or videotapes as the sun dramatically slips into the horizon. And last night, I was no exception. I have many photos, none of which I am even marginally happy with. I sort of can stand this one I snapped of a guy at the end of the pier fishing:
I'll leave you with another photo I'm far happier with, a little something else from the butterfly house from this morning: