We’ve spent a good bit of time with our friends and fellow Mainer’s Dick and Moira this week. They left Rockland Maine aboard their 36’ boat Equinox the same time we did, back in August, and while their trip down the coast included a couple different stops (and a trip back to Maine for the snowy holidays – what were they thinking!?), we’ve ended up together again for a week or so, and it’s been delightful!
But while we’re here for an extended stay – using Marathon as a “home base” to explore the rest of the Keys – they’re here only long enough to fix a leak in their dinghy and stage for their next adventure. They’re going to Cuba!
Maybe we’ll talk more about that later. They’ve jumped through hoops and made standby plans for their standby plans and it’s going to be a grand trip, no doubt. But this entry is about a road trip we took with them, just yesterday.
You see, there’s a great bus service here in the keys, and for $4 each way (and only $1 for seniors – as Dick was quick to point out!) we can ride from Marathon to Key west. They pick up just outside the City Marina entrance, and make stops all along the overseas highway (US Route 1) between here and Key West, and several places within Key West itself. It’s a great deal. And if you happen to have a beer with your dinner, you don’t have to worry about it, because the bus driver hasn’t. Instant designated driver.
So yesterday we left Marathon on the 1:27pm southbound, and at three we stepped off in Key West – and had instant culture shock.
Holy Duval Street, Batman!
When you live on a boat, you get used to limited elbow room and lots of quiet time and a generally mellow vibe. It kind of grows on you.
But that’s not Duval street, nor most of Key West, actually. Well, the limited elbow room part is familiar, but instead of a boat with only 130 square feet of space and two people, it’s an island with 206 million square feet and God knows how many people but it looks like they’re all packed into one street (called Duval St.).
Breathe in when your neighbor breathes out and get your elbow out of my eye…. It’s busy.
But it was fun. Music (some good, some horrid) is everywhere, restaurants and tourist traps and clothing shops galore, street musicians and magicians, and LOTS of local color. Reminded me of nowhere so much as Provincetown, Massachusetts, actually. REALLY colorful, we’re talking.
LOTS of restaurants, of course, but being island inspired, everything is heavy on the meat, and we’re avoiding meat…. So yeah, we broke that fast with a stuffed plantain tapas plate, stuffed with beans and rice and a bit of pork. It was mostly plantains and veggies, but that little bit of meat tasted pretty good. I guess a couple ounces of pork won’t poison me for life…
There’s a park on the Western tip of Key West called Mallory Park, and the tourists gather there every evening to watch the sunset and the carnival of musicians and acrobats and hucksters, and then the local sail boats start parading by the piers, back and forth and back and forth… If you were a teen in the ’50’s (or saw the movie “American Graffiti”), you know what I’m talking about.
And did I mention that Key West has character? Banyan trees and raging bulls and the cutest tourists you’ll find anywhere!
And maybe we’ll just keep going west for a day or two, looking for that unbroken horizon.