|Joe listening to the morning net on VHF 68|
Originally, we'd planned to sail down to Key West, but armed with this bit of local advice changed our minds and decided to hop on the bus and make it a day trip. We located the bus schedule for The Lower Keys Shuttle online for departures from our location in Marathon. The trip would take nearly an hour and a half with so many local pick ups along the way, but it would also give us the opportunity to see the lower keys without the hassle of renting a car and finding parking in Key West.
We boarded the bus around 10:15 AM and made numerous stops along the lower keys picking up passengers who were on their way to jobs and those who were just coming off a night of drinking and debauchery. The bus reeked of stale cigarettes and booze. It was a colorful crew of individuals in various states of incoherency to say the least. We arrived in Key West just in time for lunch. Surprisingly, Key West wasn't crowded, but we were told that we'd chosen a day when no cruise ships were in town. Apparently, the tourist area around Duval Street and Mallory Square can become packed with passengers when
the ships are in port.
|Mural at the Green Parrot Bar|
|Bahama Village Mural|
|Mallory Square musician|
One tradition that you can set your watch to is the carnival atmosphere of the nightly sunset celebration at Mallory Square. Street performers begin their acts well before sunset while the afternoon pilgrimage of tourists are drawn like lemmings toward the oceanside square from their day-long soirees at the bars and beaches. We joined others in the march toward the west to bear witness the the last of the sun's rays and the plethora of entertainers on the square.
Jugglers, fire eaters, sword swallowers, smart aleck magicians, musicians and acrobats vied for attention from the crowd. It was a sluggish night gratuitously for street performers since it was a sparse crowd, but the cruise ships were scheduled for the following day and things were certain to pick up.
At sunset all eyes turned toward the west. It was as though it was a spiritual experience for some. We cruisers take our sunsets in stride. Somehow if we miss today's fiery ball sinking into the horizon, God willing they'll always be another one tomorrow.
|Fire eater at sunset|
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Location:Key West, Florida