Once again, we are exploring a place that we already “know” and had visited before, but at a much deeper level. As with many things, there is more to Key West than meets the eye. This town has a lot of interesting history and many fascinating, funky and eccentric people have spent time here (and many are still here).
If you only look at the touristy side of the city, it can look like a bunch of t-shirt shops and bars. And many of the bars are a lot of fun. But in the back streets you will also find beautiful homes, lovely gardens and unique local businesses.
There is a movement here called One Human Family. It is the movement’s belief that all religions, nationalities, classes, races, genders, abilities and orientations are all part of each other. And there are definitely many diverse communities in this town.
Art is something else that you can find here in abundance. There is a diversity of art here, from the quirky like the “Conch Mobiles” to the more traditional. At the 48th annual Old Annual Days Arts Festival in Key West, we saw lots of examples of these different types of art. We also met some of those interesting, funky and eccentric locals. One of the local women told us that Key West was a lot like Homer, Alaska, where’d she’d also lived. Homer also has diverse art and people. It kind of makes sense that the Southernmost Point and a Northernmost point would have something in common with each other.
Of course, interesting art can be found throughout the Keys. It’s fun to drive up and down the Overseas Highway and look inside the many little art shops. And, while we were here, there was a great arts and crafts show in Marathon and a fun flea market in Big Pine Key, both of which we visited.
But back to Key West. Someone recently said to me “you either love Key West or you hate it”. And we love it. One day we went on “Lloyd’s Tropical Bike Tour”. Lloyd has been taking tourists on bicycle tours for twenty years.
And he took us to the Key West Firehouse Museum. It had some cool old fire “stuff” and also an exhibit of Cuban firefighting artifacts from the time when Key West and Cuba were still closely related.
Other things we love: bicycling through the town as the locals do, Bahamian and conch style homes, the wonderful weather, the laid back style, the beautiful trees and flowers and the many animal lovers here (as evidenced by the many refuges and rescue operations in this small town).
We took Angel on a day outing to town one day. One of our stops was the Turtle Kraal Museum, which educates the public about dangers to sea turtles, and has exhibits about the harvesting of sea turtles for turtle soup in the past (kraals are the pens they were kept in). The docent at the Museum, which we visited with Angel, dedicated a song to her: “Angel sweet Angel, you’re the prettiest thing I’ve seen all day”.