Vive la République!

White Collar Beach on Biscayne Island, Key Biscayne, FL


I just came across this post from 2008 . . .

I’d almost forgotten that I’d written it. As a matter of fact, it was the first and last blog-post of my own writing until I launched this art blog. But I thought a reappearance was fitting in this fine year of Florida’s 500th Anniversary!

Although a few photos were swapped and added, it remains unchanged from the original posting.

The Conch Republic – more commonly known as Key West, Florida – was this year’s spring vacation destination.

With sandals barely secured, we leaped into our metal steed– the scent of adventure tempting us forward.

Five or so hours later we segued onto Key Biscayne. Surrounded by palms – date and coconut – and luminescent air, we waded out into the turquoise ocean and gazed back at the bright sun-worshipers stippled across the luxurious white sand.

We savored the moment…then merrily resumed our unfolding adventure.

View from Key Biscayne

View from Key Biscayne

After passing miles of mangroves, we finally fell off the mainland into the lap of Key Largo, and the start of the Overseas Highway – the spinal cord of the islands, with Key West at its coccyx. Motoring past streets labeled ‘Gumbo Limbo Lane’ and ‘Shangri-la Ave’, and noting the paradisiacal-lassitude in peoples’ behavior, it became apparent that life on the islands was joyously lentissimo – so laid back, even the ibis on the side of the road, wobbly from heat, appeared lazy. We passed dozens of small eateries with names like ‘J J’s Dog House Lounge’, ‘Banana Cabana Restaurant’, ‘Wahoo’ and ‘Barracuda Grill’; each exterior uniquely adorned with kitsch-personalities. With considerable satisfaction, we found ourselves hijacked by a tiki bar and forced to sip coconut mojitos amidst a warm tropical breeze.

Once again, we reveled in our latest diversion…then it was back into our, now, sandy-bottomed truck and onward to our final destination.

There are always rooms available at the Heartbreak Hotel in Key West.

There are always rooms available at the Heartbreak Hotel in Key West.

The remaining stretch of highway was cheerfully riddled with more of the same symbols of paradise, with the old Flagler railway bridges trimming the view.

Eventually, we arrived at our destination; Key West. The next four days we lived in our bathing suits, swam like dolphins, ate like tourists and laughed like teenagers.

The most apparent characteristics were the ever-present scooters, bikes, flamingo-pink painted taxis, black-faced gulls and Pygmy roosters – otherwise known as locally-protected alarm-clocks.

A couple of mornings we went to “Lulu’s Kiss” for breakfast. Why? The food was only average, there was no such person named Lulu, but the name and the retro sign were both catchy.

Pygmy Rooster

A Pygmy rooster – otherwise known as the “locally-protected alarm-clocks.”

Then there were the beaches! We fell comfortably in the middle of the body-types, which ranged from sharp-cut to Shar Pei. Smathers and Higgs were not as long as we expected, and had less swimmable area than one might think, due to much of the sea-bed being carpeted in algae, the characteristic hiding place of the deadly scorpion-fish. Nevertheless, the lush blankets of white, yielding sand lined with gently swaying palms, and populated by like-minded souls wrapped in lazy, wide smiles as they offered themselves – rotisserie-style – to the sun, more than made up for it. Smathers Beach, Key West

Duval Street is supposed to be equivalent to a mini-Mardi gras. But because we rose with the roosters, we escaped any extreme late-night hi-jinks. However, daily we would sashay along Duval, tripping into the myriad of t-shirt tourist traps, restaurants and martini bars. We waved to our friends up north from the live web-cam outside the infamous Hemingway Sloppy Joe’s, saw some excellent art in a number of galleries and stopped to dine twice at the Hard-Rock Cafe. Despite their choice of lame pop rather than rock music, they had outstanding hickory smoked brisket and ribs.

On our last day, we snapped pictures of each other at the Southernmost Point of the US, had one last grin at the beaches, and we were off!

Surprisingly, the trip back, although a denouement, was replete with satisfaction. Our vacation really came in the form of our state of mind. We had 4 full days to shirk all responsibility and follow our hearts and whims. No work. No phone calls. No bills to pay. Just mornings of languish, afternoons of discovery and evenings of revelry.

Vive la République?

Vive le soleil! Vive les irresponsables! Vive la revitalisation!


Note to travellers: the best beach, apparently, is at Marker 39.