The US lifted it’s embargo on Cuba today, finalmente. Talk about holding a grudge. That’s a pretty big deal down here, considering we’re closer to Cuba than Miami. There’s probably going to be a parade down Duval later this week. They DO love their parades down here. It also means that when we sail to Cuba we won’t have to ask them not to stamp our passports. Viva Cuba!
So, aside from eating our fair share of Cubano sandwiches and drinking endless cups of cafe con leche, we’ve been out doing our own little bike tour of the island. It’s only 2 miles by 4 miles, so you can cover basically the whole thing in one day.
We checked out Ft. Zachary Taylor, an old military fort turned state park, used in the Civil and Spanish American Wars. Interesting fact: the fort, when completed in 1861, had many features that were considered “high-tech” at the time, including sanitary facilities flushed by the tide (no swimming on your day off, fellas!), and a desalination plant that turned sea water into drinking water (wait… doesn’t the poo go out to sea too?).
Because we’re not huge history buffs, we found the adjacent beach way more our style. Locals call this beach the best on the island, and we have to agree. It’s actually part of the fort and is a national park, so there’s a small entrance fee. However, this small fee keeps the bums off the beach AND there’s a tiki hut that sells burgers and cold beers so we gladly forked over our $3 each for entry. We attempted to snorkel, but the water was COLD. Like, take your breath away, nearly hyperventilating into our snorkels, kind of cold. Can’t beat the view though. We’ll trade snow for sand any day!
We spent last weekend on land at the Pier House Resort, an amazing four star resort managed by a family friend of ours. What a beautiful property! It feels so secluded, yet it’s right in the heart of Key West. I about died when I saw our room with the huge bathroom and the rainfall shower head. Seriously. We spent basically the entire time at the resort lying on the private beach, taking 45 minute showers and lounging on high thread count sheets watching cable TV. Yes, those were our priorities. In that order. We also managed to catch KW’s lighted boat parade. Not as many boats as the one we’re used to in Annapolis, but the boats looked good and it was such a treat standing outside watching them and not freezing our butts off! Great way to celebrate the holidays, and I’m glad we could still enjoy this tradition away from home.
The whole town is all dolled up for Christmas at this point. On the one hand, it’s really neat to be somewhere warm for the holidays. It feels so exotic. Not as traditional. On the other, it IS a bit weird listing to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas when it’s 85 degrees outside. Not bad. Just odd.
I finally saw a manatee. Finally. I was seriously beginning to doubt if they even existed. Matt spotted about 5 during our travels down the ICW and I missed them every single time. It looked like it was just being a bum too.
We mustered up the courage to try a new restaurant right across from the dinghy dock. It’s a sushi place called Thai Island, that the locals claim is excellent. It looked a little grimy from the outside (not something you’d want when you’re eating raw fish), but hey, if the locals like it then it has to be good. It turned out to be delicious, and the view from the deck was even better. We watched the local pelicans line up to get the scraps the fishermen were tossing out. Not sure what’s up with the girl reading. We were trying to figure that one out, but never did. Seems like a bad spot to be, especially with hungry pelicans thrashing around fighting over fish scraps.
After the fishermen had left, the pelicans raided the trash cans, knocking them over in the attempt to find just a few more scraps. A few got lucky and came out with a belly fully of fish. Like these guys…
We checked out the Key West cemetery today. It was really, really neat (not to sound morbid or anything). Because the graves are above ground, it has a creepy New Orleans vibe to it. The cemetery was relocated to the current spot in the heart of town from it’s previous location near Higgs Beach in 1847, after a hurricane came thru and washed hundreds of bodies out to sea. Supposedly, there are over 100,000 bodies in the current location, some stacked 3-4 deep in each crypt. On our way out we passed by a covered crypt where an older couple, in true Key West style, were sitting there smoking a joint reminiscing over their loved one.
We also found the marker for Captain Outrageous. In case you can’t see the description it reads:
Born April 13, 1940, Columbus Ohio, Norm Taylor
Died February 6, 2007, Key West, Captain Outrageous
We did a quick Google of Captain Outrageous Key West and found he was a financial analyst by trade who moved to Key West in the 70’s and became a pretty influential artist, painting everything from automobiles to furniture to pay phones. Check out his story here.
Perhaps he inspired this guy?
Everywhere we go, we’re meeting tons of people from MD. We’ve met at least a dozen so far. It’s crazy. Today alone we met two and we weren’t even really that social today. We were walking to grab some ice cream before heading back to the boat and we looked down and saw this brick. Little snippets to remind us of home!
We finally found the end of the rainbow. Unfortunately there wasn’t a pot of gold, but there was a big group of tourists taking their picture by the sign. #disappointed
Sadly, we’re going to have to say goodbye to our dear friend and second mate aboard s/v Foxfire, Pirate Wilson. Wilson has been with us since our inaugural sail from Annapolis in October and has faired the high seas along side us as our faithful mascot (thank you Valerie and Thorston). Unfortunately he seems to have caught a case of skin cancer from the sun and is at the end of his line. We’re going to set him free tonight after sunset (so our boat neighbors won’t see us chucking a pumpkin overboard), so he can be at one with the sea and float on to distant shores. RIP Pirate Wilson.