So instead of the normal trip report or overview, I want to do something different. It has been too long to remember the details and who cares if I did see or do what everybody sees and does in Florida. I want to address what I thought I would not see and feel in that trip.
The trip was with a friend of mine, who I absolutely adore but she could not be more different to me if I indeed were chalk and she literally was cheese. I have known that for as long as I have known her, which is about six years. In that time she and i both have had out share of upheavals in a strange country. Hers being of a stronger nature, as most of it was in her personal life, mine were mostly of the professional nature, but i used to take that personally. I realize now, i still do and probably always will. M and her have not always been the best of pals, but I know he genuinely cares about her well being, if not about her choices.
For innumerable reasons, none of which are truly valid, but they existed in my mind, I was pretty crabby about the trip from the start and especially after getting up at 3 am to get to out flight, wait for an hour for a car we had reserved previously, i was definitely crabby. My initial reaction at seeing her waiting for us at the hotel lounge, was remarkably tepid. I quite regret that now.
That night, at Dolce Vita, I learned that good gelato can make me happy and less ill disposed towards everything 🙂 The fig and walnut gelato, is a mood changer, to say the least. I think everyone was surprised at how much happier I looked, not least of all, me.
Next day M and I were leaving early for a kayaking tour of the Everglades and my friend had already expressed her disinterest in kayaking in a swamp full of alligators, understandably. So we left as decided, me with sparkling red eyes because of some reaction to my contact lenses. It was a lovely drive, there were many hawks that I cannot claim to identify on our way but I did identify the belted kingfishers, at least 10 of them separately, who had first appeared for this season only a few days back, Tod, our tour guide said.
A lovely sunrise, uncaptured by my camera because of immediate and long lasting condensation in the humidity as soon as I got out of the car, greeted the back of our car and the rearview mirror did a spectacular job of displaying it to me. I think it was only paralleled and left wanting, slightly, by the sunset we saw on our way to the keys..
At the launching point for our kayaks, and here it is important to mention that we had not kayaked before, at all, we saw an alligator get off the water to a nearby mangrove island. Some of these islands were deliberately made by the long ago Native Indian tribes, mainly the Calusa that lived around the area by depositing all the shells from the crustaceans they ate. We sat in tandem with me in the front holding on to our camera and M taking on the oars. The water is so placid it was not too hard to paddle, and I was already riveted by the Florida subspecies of the red shouldered hawk and the male and female anhingas a little distance away. We saw nests of tricolored herons with almost grown chicks, in the branches of the close by bushes, just above the water.
It was a total of four hours of paddling, through tunnels of canopying mangroves that looked like “oil paintings” ( Tod describes them aptly), as the water reflects their leaves and roots. Many times we paddled straight into the embedded roots of mangroves and had to track back following instructions, but we didn’t turn over even once. Additionally, because it never occurred to me to complain about the direction the kayak went as it got entangled in the roots, and I just laughed at the inevitable ‘wedges’. Even when I was helping with half the oar ( I am not sure if I was helping), we both simply found it funny, Tod said that he has learned a lot from how a couple behaves on a kayak together. Citing a British couple: ‘ Dear, can you maybe not paddle at all, I think I can really manage on my own.’ He said he had seen many confrontations in the wedged kayaks, and he was glad he didn’t have to deal with it again, with us, he never knows what to do, apparently. I found a new thought that day, in many situations we were the ideal couple. Though, in many others we are not.
We saw a few alligators far away and many spiders, Tour the Glades with Tod, if you want to tour them. Airboats are for CSI and too loud and noisy.
After heading back I had some more of the gelato my friend had bought and saved for me at the Lincoln Mall as we picked her up. And then we headed on to the keys. I forget how long the drive was, but it was nice, nothing that I will write in my autobiography about though. the 7 mile bridge will soon mean nothing much to me.
However, Key West is nice and full of people, all night probably. We ate a decent, expensive meal.. hung around the main town area at night. Next day we were going to try jet skiing. I was excited. I was also wrong to be so.
My friend was absolutely not interested and her experience of the ordeal dulls away in my mind, as soon as we got on the jet ski, with me riding behind. I can only remember her being scared and sitting down with her head in her hands when we paid for 45 min of jet skiing.
Once we got on, M over-corrected every second and we didn’t pick up the required speed and for all those who don’t know, jet skiing is only partially safe when you are at high speed. Otherwise, it is not safe at all. I could feel him tensing, so I didn’t hold on to him for dear life either, tried to inject some confidence in my voice as I directed to pick up speed and maintain it. But the rocking motion more often than not, caused him to brake and me to nearly have a heart attack. M cannot swim, you see, I was scared to death that he would be carried away by the ocean current and panic. Or I would fall and he would panic and drive the jet ski over me. Such mild thoughts occupied my mind as I encouraged him to gain speed and follow the supposed tour guide, who had informed us that he was a professional jet skier ( whatever that does for you, did nothing to me), but was soon lost to sight. Poor M kept apologizing for the sudden stops and the constant sideways motion..We almost hit a bridge pillar. Stopped, literally two feet from it. That was the last time I closed my eyes out of fear, because obviously, when I open them what I see is worse than leaving them open the whole time.
It is not an experience I would care to relive. But M never gave up, and we did use the whole of 45 min and I know he must have been partially scared as well. We may try it again on a lake, at some point. In the distant, distant future.
Key west has nice drinks and a great Mexican place, filled with all kinds of mojitos. . The night ended a lot better than the evening had, M and I had also a nasty argument, I had to physically stop him from going back to the hotel. We went dancing in a sweaty club. I have literally never been asked if someone knew me or had met me before. I thought that was a line left for TV shows highlighting in inadequacies of some men and people knew it is the least likely line to get them anywhere. I was wrong. The day had been nicer too, we had taken a dip in the ocean.
The next day we were back in Miami and to the Lincoln mall. On our way back we stopped at a highly popular camping spot, with beautiful turquoise water and great shore birds very close by. I saw a Wilson’s Plover even. In Miami, we ate at a great Indian Restaurant and walked on the beach in moonlight.. I would highly recommend that.
It was a strange trip, in many ways. However, I was sad when it ended, so that means it went well, over all. I find myself more sure of following my instincts, even though they often mislead me, even though they may not be perfect. But they are still my own.