Drinking in the Hemmingway tradition
It was 3:00 am. Mo and I were finishing the last bottles of wine. We piled them near the beer bottles and empty gin & tonic glasses from earlier that night. Jen was tired from the trip down to Sarasota and subsequent drinking, so she slumbered early. My cousin Bruce also had been sleeping since before midnight. They went to bed to rest up for the long drive tomorrow.
Meanwhile his girlfriend and I were still going. As we drained the last bottle of booze in the house, Bruce shuffled back into his living room. He was surprised to find us still awake. But he was later surprised that somehow we had convinced ourselves that we needed to begin the road trip to Key West immediately. We suspected that if we passed out now, there would be no early morning departure as planned. He was right.
So before we knew it, the four us were in the car, and pulling out of Sarasota around four in the morning. Mo and I fell fast asleep and the next thing I knew I woke in the daylight, several hundred miles south of his place.
Bruce had closed the extended gap through the everglades and we were nearing the southern tip of Florida. The original plan was to stop along alligator alley and take photos of the everglades on the way down. We ended up having to wait until the trip back north.
So we crossed into Key Largo. It was the first island in the 100 mile string of keys and bridges and turquoise water that make up the picturesque Caribbean side of the sunshine state.
By mid morning we were basically there. We stopped here and there along the Keys for breakfast and Bloody Marys. By mid afternoon we were on Duvall Street sipping Cuba Libres. (The name given to a Rum & Coke in the rough and tumble bars of the most southern place in the continental United States.)
Our B&B was only a block from the giant red marker that indicated the closest America spot to Cuba. At over a hundred miles back to Key Largo, then another 100 miles to Miami, Cuba was much closer. Her proximal influenced the narrow streets. We smoked huge cigars, drank piles of rum, and listened to every Hemmingway story we could.
For the next 3 days and nights we toured around the Caribbean streets of the small island. In sandals and T-shirts we sipped tropical drinks gazing over the clear ocean. We lazily wandered through galleries and historic sites littered with treasure discovered from sixteenth century Spanish shipwrecks.
Hopping from bar stool to bar stool we listened and learned the local stories of Hemmingways mob. We also toured The Hemmingway House: (http://www.hemingwayhome.com/) I stood in the writing room where he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Snows of Kilimanjaro. We strolled around the estate where he created his best work. I tried to capture on film the inspiration that shadowed the property from tropical trees and manicured gardens.
We drove back to Tampa through the Everglades shooting gators and exotic birds. It was a great vacation. Tropical warmth in the middle of a Colorado winter was just the early spring break we needed.
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