The wonderful thing about a road trip is that you are never bound to a destination or how you will travel. If a place piques your interest than staying an extra night is an option, if by morning you find that it just does not add that certain excitement you expect, then packing up and leaving is as easy as that- packing and going. So, with our New Orleans part of the journey coming to an end, choices had to be made. Where to next? How were we going to travel? Did we stay an extra night? Being Christmas morning and just about everything shut down but the trusty old Starbucks (where we all made hurried calls back home, lest we land up in mom’s bad books and had to forgo a Christmas gift for next year), the best choice was driving another 20 hours straight through to Key West, Florida. Now it all seemed very practical; no accommodation costs (we would be sleeping in the car), we could actually fit this unique destination into our travel itinerary and we had something to do for Christmas day since everything was locked tighter then my brothers secret stash of money. But thirty minutes into the drive and with another nineteen and a half to look forward to, you have to wonder what possessed you to think that driving so long would be such a brilliant idea. The car begins to feel like a moving prison cell, the radio sounds much better when it’s playing static then the endless hits radio stations keep leaving on repeat, and you much prefer the company of the four other people in the car with you when they are dead to the world rather than awake and breathing. In this case I mean when they are napping, but the thought did cross my mind a time or two.
Arriving in Key West, Florida is like driving into a place that does not quite understand that life in other parts of the world revolve around busy schedules, hurried work lives, screaming children and far off thoughts of that idyllic retirement all alone on a secluded island. Key West is that place we all dream of going to, to unwind and forget that we have a job to go back to. It’s the place where a, “I’ll see you in 5 minutes,” can mean anything from 5 hours to 5 months. You set your own pace here, or none at all for that matter. Arriving bright and early the next morning we made our way to a Laundromat to do laundry. Yes, even on vacation this heinous task will still present itself. With laundry in and taking its sweet time to run through a cycle, I spotted a bag of homemade nuts, raisins and m&m mix in the car and with my stomach and me having many life changing conversations in that car over the hours, I eagerly grabbed it before someone spotted the loot. And then what would walk across my path? A rooster. Now you should know this about me, I am a sucker for poor, starving helpless things, even when that perceived starving helplessness is in my head. So, my only option was to feed this poor thing with the only food I had available to me. My stomach was already protesting, but I was doing this for the greater good. I love m&m’s and my absolute favorite kind are the blue one’s. So seeing as I was not going to eat the other colours, I began throwing them out to the Rooster who quickly devoured his morning meal. After about 5 minutes of this and thoughts that maybe chocolate was not the best choice for a morning meal I quickly switched and gave him raisins instead, figuring a fruit a day would keep doctors away and all that. When I decided that overeating was not an indulgence this fine looking Rooster should partake in, I abruptly ended our meal together and bid him farewell. Unfortunately he did not quite get the farewell part, and instead took it as in invitation to invite his fellow chickens. Well, at least Shaii got some great pictures in between running away from chickens and throwing them food to encourage better poses for his photo’s.
With laundry all done, our next stop was food and a doctor’s office. We did not harm anyone in the process of this road trip, but the ever stoic Kevin did manage to get himself sick. Remember that unhurried pace the citizens of Key West choose to enforce in their lives? Even doctor’s offices implement this concept. So after about the second hour and no sign of Kevin emerging out the air conditioned building; Kate, Shaii and I made ourselves comfortable by rolling the windows down low, leaning our heads back and just slightly closing our eyes. Now if you were to do this anywhere else in the world you could find yourselves without a car and a couple of limbs, but considering the time it would take for people to do this and all the work it would be we figured we were more than safe in this community. What seemed like an eternity later, Kevin finally came out with a prescription for Strep Throat and a mood blacker then a starless night. And not a drop of sympathy from his fellow friends.
The rest of our time in this breathtaking place was spent lounging and drifting into bouts of much-needed sleep on the warm beach with the ocean at our toes. With the sun slowing descending against the horizon and realizing I had forgotten my camera in the car, Shaii and I made the mile long walk to fetch it. How could we come to Key West and forgo a picture of the sunset? With the camera strapped securely around me, we made the arduous trek back to the sleeping beauties on the beach, but somehow got side tracked when Shaii spotted an Iguana. This prompted me to tell him that in South Africa we have the same except with one flick of their tail they can break your legs, and then screaming that one was coming for us. It brought tears of joy to my eyes to see him get so scared and uncertain. Believe Shana or lose my legs were probably the thoughts colliding in his head. We also got to explore a fort complete with cannon balls and dingy prison cells and still made it back in the nick of time to take the most gorgeous photos of the sun slowing slipping behind the ocean.
With the sun set on this part of our stay, it was in the car and off again to a new place and a whole set of new memories to be made