My previous post makes a good segue to the Vacation Report.
It was bright, but not too early when we set off for downtown Key West on our bicycles. We arrived about an hour before departure time, so toured the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society & Museum where I was apprehended by a savage pirate, but managed to elude his clutches … probably because he had only one “clutch” and a hook on his right arm (photo above).
On display in the museum are treasures recovered from the Atocha, a ship that sank en route to Spain from Havana in 1722. Gold, silver, emeralds, amethysts … You can even buy a little bit of gold, if you’re willing to forfeit a lot of green. One item of interest was a $60,000 snuffbox. I don’t remember if it was gold or silver, but it was about four hundred years old. Wouldn’t it be interesting to touch it, and imagine the aristocrat who may have last carried it in his pocket?
We chained our bikes behind the Key West Art & History Society building (http://www.kwahs.com/customhouse.htm) with the enormous statue (about 30 feet high) of a dancing couple, and walked to the pier where we boarded a catamaran for a thirty-minute ride to the reef.
While we enjoyed the sail, one of the mates instructed us on the use of our manually inflated buoyancy compensator (BC) vests. I couldn’t help laughing because it reminded me of Eddie Izzard’s routine discussing life saving techniques in the event of an airplane crash. “Care for a top up?”
I overfilled my BC a smidge, so I had a little trouble diving, but that was ok, because if I had dived I might have hit the reef, it was so near the water’s surface. The initial problem I had, however, was when I first jumped in. The seas were choppy, and we had to “butt-walk” down a folding stair which bobbed around like a cork. It made me slightly dizzy, and I held tightly to the ropes to prevent being pitched in head-first. I was doing OK, but forgot to pull down my mask! So naturally I couldn’t get it cleared of saltwater once I got it on, and my eyes were stinging, and my rhythm was thrown completely off. So I dog paddled – tossed and bobbed would be a better description – back to the “cat” and crawled up the steps to dry my mask and adjust it so it wouldn’t leak. Poor Jesse thought I was going to chicken out, and I thought I might not be able fix my mask so I could use it, but tried it again. I never got it to be leak-proof or fog-proof, but was able to clear it enough to see the pretty fish, coral, and even found a stingray and a needlefish. Time flew past, and they whistled us back to the boat. Jesse had bought a dry bag for his little camera, so we have some nice pictures to post. On the return sail, we were served wine and beer, listened to island music and enjoyed the scenery, including a school (pod?) of about five dolphins.
Back on shore, we weaved our way to our bikes and peddled through Old Town, stopped at Cheeseburger Key West for – of course – a cheeseburger. Stopped to listen to a flute player on the street with his “singing” dog, and rode through the city cemetery as we looked for the Haitian art gallery. The cemetery is very interesting, both culturally and historically, and I hope to go back to spend more time there. At last we found the art gallery, only to discover it was closed, so we rode to Fort Zack for a leisurely beach afternoon in the sun followed by a windy sunset.
And that’s the second chapter of another day in Paradise.