There is a lot to see in Key West and exploring it all is a full time job! (And my favorite job! 🙂 ) All those mom and pop shops with their own take on what makes the best breakfast, lunch, and dinner weren’t going to explore themselves. The island had its own unique nooks and crannies begging to be discovered.
The island chickens roamed freely. : )
One alley and little pathway led into another and the new sights and sounds kept freely presenting themselves. It wasn’t long until I found myself under the bow of a massive cruise ship. Beautiful!
I wonder what caliber of storm is required to shake up such a massive vessel. The pathways led my meandering self through the different shops and key lime pie stores. My attentive side noticed the shops very much being designed with the cruise ship passengers in mind. I am not sure how often locals stop in these shops, if ever, with the selection of Key west key chains, conch shells, and other similarly branded t-shirts. Not really my cup of tea but interesting to see.
The more interesting section for me was the harbor walk area near the north west side. It was easy to look a foot to the side of where you walked and see fish swimming in the clear water. Jelly fish, colorful fish, fast fish and small fish were swimming around. A few people were watching these 5 foot tarpon eating the scraps dumped after the fisherman cleaned the daily catch.
I wasn’t able to get a great picture of the fish. There was a monster tarpon swimming here that really looked to be around 6 foot. (They can grow up to 8 feet!) I hate to admit it, but I wouldn’t have wanted to jump in the water right then with the biggest fish I have seen!
So many beautiful places to see and interesting people to talk to.
I love the water and Key West has some killer beaches! The couch-surfing app told me about a guy named Aramis who lives on a houseboat in Key West. He is from Paraguay and is currently doing freelance photography. He has been a lot of other places and his bio page said how he is passionate about human kind and interested in the world.
I had to send him a message to see if he would like to meet up and share some of his story. He graciously offered for me to stay on the boat with him and his girlfriend. I drove my moped over to the CVS to meet and take the skiff out to his house. He went to CVS to grab some supplies which included a bottle of wine, some cheese and some ice cream. He greeted me with a message of peace and blessings to me, and exuded a special kindness and acceptance. We met up with his girlfriend Loys when she motored over to us in the small dinghy.
Getting to the boat, they told me “mi casa es su casa.” (My house is your house). They told me about boat life, shared the bottle of wine and snacks and then we went outside together to see if we could catch some fish.
My gracious guests offered for me to stay on the futon, or I could stay in a smaller spot below deck if I would like. These amazing people sharing their small living area meant much more to me than any lavishness and ease of hosting someone in a spacious million dollar yacht. Thank you Loys and Aramis. They mentioned how their home is always open and this kind of love for helping and caring about people is very special. What a world this would be if everyone was as kind and loving. I woke up the next morning to a cup of coffee (cafe con leche) that Loys had made.
This has been my favorite couch surfing experience so far because they were the ones that would offer to take me back to my moped when I needed to go. I didn’t feel any inclination to say thank you and that I should get going from being unsure about the hosts plans. Aramis was free for the morning and afternoon and with our bad luck last night, we grabbed the fishing line and headed to the front of the boat. With the smart, special, and economical life they live, catching a fish was important for the lunch or dinner menu for the day.
The sun was out on another gorgeous day, and we dropped out fishing lines from a yoyo fishing “reel.” No need for a pole. Just a hook, some line, and something to wrap it back up on. More beautiful fish swam as we waited for the big ones. The day was full of catching smaller fish, seeing a small shark, and Loys making the most amazing lunch. Time lost its grip as I threw out the fishing line and waited. What a day it was. When the bites on the line started to die down, Aramis offered up his snorkeling gear and I jumped in to find out where the big fish were hiding! Fins, goggles, snorkels, check. I found a nice fishing net that had somehow been lost in the weeds and saw some of the fish hiding under the boat! Those stinkers! With the net, we were now extra ready for the big ones!
Unfortunately, the big ones didn’t feel like sacrificing themselves for dinner that day.
I had been speaking with someone I had met at the Seashore hostel and headed out around 5 30 to meet up. Pete was kind to have an air mattress for me and offer up his floor. It was a small area, but not a problem for me. I ended up staying here for the rest of the time in Key West and kept calling the defense lawyer to see about that citation. I finally got through to him and sent him the documentation and 200 dollars for him to represent me in court. His secretary said they will be in touch if anything else arises from it. It was nice to get that weight and huge responsibility off my shoulders.
I spent some more time advertising my moped and looking into ways to get to Puerto Rico. I checked at the Marina and online, but didn’t see any advertisements for deck hands for ships sailing to Puerto Rico anytime soon.
With the pending, large, and wise ROTH IRA contribution for the year, money was starting to tighten its hold on my life. I guess you kinda/slightly do need money to live. At least it helps. Especially with exploring those unique restaurants at each of these places. 😀 Puerto Rico held a spot with a job and housing already set up through a friend.
I waited for my moped to sell and enjoyed the ever so stunning Key West beaches.
The Fort Zachary beach was especially charming.
There was a festival that was going on that held some fantastic Caribbean street food and other beautiful costumes. You betcha I had the arepas, plantain, whole turkey leg, and more! I can’t tell you how excited I was to see some food that I didn’t know what it was! 😛
There was another gentleman I met who had an iguana and wanted to share with others how much fun they can be.
It rained for a few days and I checked out a museum that showcased the salvaging trade in Key West. Large towers were built for spotting wrecks and rushing out to save the crew and then grab all the valuable cargo. The guide really new his stuff and gave fascinating information about the rules for these treasure hunters. He told all about the most profitable wrecks, how the valuable treasures are properly claimed with the many legalities, and even the incredible fines for treasure hunting “under the radar.”
My roommate actually found someone to buy my moped and I booked a ticket for Puerto Rico for Thursday. Someone else I had just bumped into was driving to Miami Monday and was happy to give me ride. I rode with him back to Miami and had the pleasure of meeting another amazing person by the name of Scott. We ended up stopping for lunch and when the bill came I asked if I could pay as a thank you for the ride. (Greyhound is 30-40 dollars to get to Miami) He didn’t let me and even went so far as to pay for my meal. Thank you Scott! Scott told me about the 300 cruises he has taken working for cruise lines and had worked his way up to working with Microsoft on the ship computer systems. He was a highly intelligent man and knew an incredible amount. I learned about the cost for a new cruise ship with it being outfitted. (750 million to 1 billion dollars for one ship!) We are talking about the big ones here, and where these ships are making their money. His current position worked with multiple cruise lines and he expounded on the differences with the ships and what cruise lines are the best. I learned about the fine print in cruise lines, and even about the life of working on private yachts.
He went out of his way to drop me off right near my hostel and gave me information on how to get the cheapest cruise out of San Juan.
Until next time then. Hope you guys are having a wonderful day! : )