|Mr. Flamingo Floatie is running away w/ my beer|
Since moving here, I find I’ve changed considerably. My habits, my person, my pace. In grad school we called this “becoming-other” – the kind of transformation that comes from traveling to a new place and letting it change you. And while I’m certain I haven’t completely adopted the complete mindset of a keys local yet, I have noticed some significant differences in the way Mr. Foodie and I live our lives.
These days, I find myself primarily preoccupied with two things: repelling mosquitoes and avoiding sun damage. Some people don’t have to worry about the tiny little blood-sucking bugs that reign supreme down here, but they really like my blood. We use incense coils when we’re outside and keep spray handy in the house, by the pool, and even in my purse. I always spray down my legs before a run (and arms and face). We are not alone in our efforts – keys locals all have their preferred methods to keep the little devils at bay. If you’re strolling around town and see plastic bags of water hanging from the railings, don’t be alarmed – this is just one of many tricks designed to keep mosquitoes away.
The second preoccupation is even more difficult. Perhaps you’ve been here before and seen the old men bicycling around with their backs tan as leather, their hair white as snow, and you think “why don’t they wear shirts and/or sunscreen?!” But we do, dear readers, we do. And it hardly makes a dent. I came from a land of seasons where the minute it got warmer than 60, I was out sunbathing. All vacations were spent maximizing sun time, knowing that in a few short months I’d be pale as the snow falling outside and dying for some vitamin D. I’m aware that contemporary skin scientists warn that practically *any* sun exposure is bad for you, but try living here for more than a week and you’ll see that despite your best efforts (and I mean best) you will still develop a full-body tan. I’m sure I look a little ridiculous most days when I’m out and about – sunglasses, wide brimmed hat, long pant legs (or sweat-catchers as I now call them), and every other part slathered in sunscreen. I walk on the shady side of the street. I search the parking lot strategically for a space that will have the most shade throughout the period we’ll be parked there (oh and we’ve purchased a window shade which we now pop open automatically even in covered garages).
Mr. Foodie and I are the types that tan deeply when we are around even mediocre sun. When I was living here as a child, my brother and I had nearly white-blonde hair and tan little bodies. It was
|The only pic I could find showing me
as the tan blonde baby I was (bottom right)
and pictured also is my aunt and uncle Khaler
with my cousin and brother
almost comical. Since then my hair has darkened considerably, but Mr. Foodie says it is getting lighter again (just hopefully as a result of the sun and not of gray hair growth lol). Sunburns are generally a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist (although I’ve definitely seen some burnt locals, but it’s harder to spot given their base tans). If you’re planning to visit, just know that we’re 90 miles from the intertropical zone, around 1500 miles from the equator. You will probably need to be more diligent than normal about your sun management.
There are a myriad of other ways living here has changed us. Mr. Foodie notes that the amount of time we spend in water has more than quadrupled. Back home we went boating with the family once or twice a year, used the jacuzzi occasionally, and our community pool in the summer every week or so, but down here…if we’re not in the ocean, we’re in the pool, and if we’re not in either, we’re in the shower washing off the salt, sand, chlorine, bug spray, and sunscreen lol. We’ve become devotees of moisturizer just to cope with the dryness of our skin from all this water. On the plus size, the ocean is great for your skin. The water is also the reason we spend so much time outside. It is full-on summer here, so it is hot and humid, but the water makes it fun. I’ve lived in many places with hot summers – even a different part of Florida, and most of the time we spent outside is getting from one A/C unit to another. Here you can count on a lot of time out of doors, so plan accordingly.
|Don’t worry, that’s my bite. Couldn’t wait to try it.|
Mr. Foodie and I decided to try out the happy hour at the Looe Key Tiki bar just up the road on Ramrod Key. We’ve heard from a few people that it is a good one. Both our bartenders were attentive, friendly, and a little surprised at how quiet it was for a Friday night. We didn’t mind – the drinks were cold, the food was scrumptious. We both ordered the happy hour burgers – both cooked to a succulent medium just as we asked. The prices were a little higher than you’d typically see on a food happy hour menu, but as it’s attached to a hotel, that is to be expected. Domestic beers and rail drinks, however, are nicely discounted from 3-6:30. The whole bar is under a tiki roof and outdoors, but the fans and shade keep it it quite comfortable. We’re looking forward to returning again soon!
This weekend we have major yard work to deal with and some house projects, but we’re going to try and squeeze in some fun at Key West’s Lobsterfest where I plan to reap the rewards of all those lobster divers out there. So stay tuned, I might have some mouth-watering snaps of my favorite crustacean to share.