Spectators cry out in admiration as the sun melts into the Atlantic.
Jamaican street performers jump through hoops, acrobats blow through conk shells while fat dogs wearing flower hats collect loose change. Every character forms a collection of oddities that makes the distinction between bohemian locals and satisfied tourists.
The people of Key West are half the attraction. Locals have a glint in their eye that says they have all the time in the world. People linger, not walking to a specific place, but rather an experience they will find along the way.
Retirees smile, trying to enjoy a more subdued version of their youth. Their children have only just started the life of work and mortgages; a world they have just departed.
Key style homes exhibit green, pink and orange pastel colors that jar the eye. Tacky, overused fairy lights cover the trees outside restaurants reflecting bright lights off diner’s faces. Some appear to have forgotten that the swaying palm trees and temperate weather of the Keys speak for themselves.
Men puff away in Cigar Clubs talking proudly about sexual encounters with women twice their looks. Elements of Cuban culture flow out of the cigars they smoke and the shirts clinging to their chests.
Cuba is a nation at the back of everybody’s mind, bobbing at the bottom of every boat’s GPS screen. The famous Key West marker even mentions that it’s only ’90 miles to Cuba’. Irony is, I doubt Cuba has ever considered creating a marker measuring the opposite direction.
While Key West is so close to a political enemy of the US, it’s residents are far away from the institutions in Washington D.C that help create such political differences.
People’s lives simply bob up and down like the beat of a reggae song. Not going anywhere, not doing anything. Just riding the waves that push up along the coast, while the sunsets over the Atlantic.