July 15, 2015

Key Questa

July 15, 2015

1.  The Southernmost Point

There is a marker in Key West, Florida, billing itself as the southernmost point in the continental U.S.A.  It isn't really the southernmost point, but if you say something boldly and often and sound like you mean it, people will believe it.

2.  Hot and Cool

Key West in July is typically hot and humid, and this past week was no exception.  Four days there produced low temperatures of 81 and high temperatures of 92 with a constant humidity of approximately 75%.  We went there for a little vacation with one of Cheri's sons and his family. They rented a house in Key West for a month.  After they rented the house, and after we booked this trip, serious marital tensions have arisen between her son and his wife, and they currently are not living together.  However, we were all together there, and enjoyed our time and out visit with everyone.  At times, though, despite the heat, there was a palpable coolness.

3.  Putting It All Behind, Setting It All Aside, and Pushing It All Away

A good vacation should give one time for reflection.  Sometimes we don't want to reflect on that in our lives which isn't pretty and pleasant.  There are different ways of using our time away -- our reflection time.  Some choose to put all the disconcerting stuff all behind them and not look at it at all.  Some choose diversion in activities so they don't have to think about it.  Our grandsons, age 10 and 12, seem to not want to think about, nor really talk about, the separation of their parents.  But you can only push reality away for so long before it insists on being looked at and dealt with.

4.  The Iguana

The rented vacation home was a lovely waterfront oasis on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Keys.  The home had coconut palms and tropical plants all surrounding a multi-deck yard with a pool.  And Iguanas.  Lots of Iguanas.  Iguanas are colorful and fascinating creatures, and also a little revolting and scary.  The smaller Iguanas are brightly colored with multiple shades of green and specks of other colors.  The boys had a good time naming them all.  There was one Iguana much bigger than the others which was brown in color -- kind of a black sheep of the Iguana tribe.  I named this Iguana "Big Bad Daddy."

5.  Little Havana

Cuba is only 90 miles or so across the ocean from Florida.  I read an article last month about a group of Cuban refugees trying to flee Cuba to the U.S. on a non-motorized barge.  According to the article, if a Cuban refugee sets foot on any part of U.S. soil he can stay, but if intercepted in the water he must be returned to Cuba.  This particular group of refugees wanted to land on U.S. soil on the 4th of July as a symbolic quest for independence and a better future.  They drifted within sight of Key West before they were intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard and returned to Cuba.

Cuban influence is everywhere on the Florida Keys.  We went out for dinner one evening at a Cuban restaurant and tried some Cuban food.  Cuban food is distinctly different than other foods I have tried.  Sometimes you can successfully blend food types together and sometimes you can't.  Core values in people are like that too, sometimes.  When people have different core values, sometimes they can't be successfully blended.

6.  Day-Oh

After our Cuban dinner we walked out to Mallory Square to participate in the nightly Sunset Celebration for which it has become famous.  Among the many street musicians, magicians, vendors and shysters were two old Jamaican musicians.  They recruited some of the audience to help them sing the old banana-pickers song, Day-Oh.  The recruits were to sing the chorus "Daylight come and we wan' go home."

Come, Mr. Tally Man, and tally me bananas.  Daylight come and we wan' go home.

7.  A Terrible Hurricane

At some level we all wan' go home, whatever and wherever home is.  Trouble is, you can't always go home.  On Labor Day in 1935 the strongest and most intense hurricane ever recorded to hit landfall in the U.S. devastated the Florida Keys.  Many homes were destroyed by violent winds and an 18-20 foot storm surge, and more than 500 people were killed by the category 5 storm.  Lesser storms in our lives sometimes leave us wanting to return to a home that simply doesn't exist anymore.

8.  Rain on the Deck

On our last day in Key West a rain storm blew in and we sat under the eves of the roof on the deck enjoying the rain.  Unlike the hurricane of 1935, this gentle rain was a cooling, cleansing and healing kind of rain.

9.  Up In A Parachute

As a culminating fun activity on our last day in the Keys, some of our group decided to go parasailing.  Parasailing is where a boat pulls a parachute into the air with people dangling from harnesses under the parachute.  I didn't go, but by all accounts it was a truly uplifting experience. Sometimes we just need to be lifted up and to find a little joy.

10.  Lost In Miami

We drove to Miami on our last night so we could catch an early non-stop flight back to San Francisco.  We programmed the hotel address into our phone, but the phone led us to the wrong place.  For about a half hour, until we could get it all figured out and straightened out, we were lost in Miami.  We all get a little lost in life, both figuratively and literally.  Fortunately, for most of us, we eventually find our way again.

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