It was fabulous to walk off the small plane and take my sweater and jacket off right away.
The Key West airport is small and homely and one immediately feels the relaxed vibe as soon as you arrive if you are lucky enough to get a ticket directly there.
Working Remotely in Key West
I had managed to do a house swap for a charming studio apartment on the side of an art gallery through LoveHomeSwap.com. The lady from the house swap website even came to the airport to pick me up, which was a very nice way to start to the trip. I was enchanted by her gorgeous art gallery that was a former church built out of stone and converted into the fashionable gallery. The studio apartment was conveniently built into the side of the gallery. It was the perfect size for me with impressive interior design and a cosy effect given by sun coming through the long stained glass windows.
The studio was walking distance to most places I wanted to visit, which as a European is most important. I was able to walk the pretty streets at night enjoying the shops and the restaurants feeling totally safe walking home. In the day time I would sit at the restaurants on beach locations where they had decent internet and good coffee. I would twirl my pen in my hand and grasp my notebook in my other hand and stare at my computers screen while looking at the sea or talking to people. The beauty of working remotely!
That first weekend I decided to do some tourist attractions so I took a guided kayaking tour of the Key West mangrove swamps. This guided kayaking tour was great value for USD 55. The guide talked about the geology of the Florida Keys and pointed out the local jellyfish, crabs and Tropical fish, birds and other natural inhabitants of the area. I was past the morning sickness phase so travelling on the kayak was no problem and I loved being so close to nature.
Southernmost Point of the USA!
I was able to walk from the boat to the Southernmost Point Marker Buoy. This is just a block of concrete, at a windy lookout point, that looks to Cuba, which is only 90 miles across the bay. It’s the most southern tip of America so a lot of tourists stop to get their picture taken there, myself included.
On the following day, Sunday, I was keen to take a tour of the writer, Ernest Hemingway’s house. I was very pleased to discover that his house was near the Art Gallery.
I love Ernest’s larger than life story, his struggles with romance, and his various wives. The most famous love story was with his third wife Martha Gelhorn, a war journalist, who was considered one of the best of the 20th Century. She was passionate and full of fire, and I can only imagine what a passionate couple they must have made when things were going well between them. I strolled along inside the Southern style home and it felt like any other except for the momentos of his exceptional life scattered around. The gardens of the house around the pool are full of cats of all shapes and sizes. The tour guide explained that part of the agreement made by Hemingway’s last and fourth wife, Mary Welsh, was that the caretaker would look after their cats.
Later after work one day I watched people on jet skis while I sunbathed by the sea. I then took a longer walk and stumbled across the African cemetery on Higgs beach. It’s a cemetery dedicated to the slaves that were diverted to the island in 1860 when three illegal slave ships were intercepted by the US Navy and diverted to Key West. The Key West community tried to help give food and care for the 1500 Africans who would have been sold into slavery. But many of the slaves died in their weak state and were subsequently buried at Higgs Beach in what is now known as the African Cemetery.
I was pleased to have stumbled upon it my accident and learn a bit of the islands history, and that they had tried to help the slaves.
I lay in the beach nearby in a patch of empty sand and thought about the fact I was at the point where I needed to get another pregnancy scan but no one in Key West would give me one, for the same reason as in Rochester, I had to be in full care for insurance reasons. They said if I was just travelling through they couldn’t give me a check up. I found it strange but decided to give up on that. The second trimester scan can be between 18 and 23 weeks so I still had time to find a place to do it.
I saw an ad to be a model for an article in the Daily Mail about women who never see winter. The description fit me as I had been working remotely in the winter months for several years before. I was delighted when they chose me for a photo shoot and one of their esteemed photographers drove down from Miami to shoot me for the day. They even paid me for my time and gave me some of the photos. The photographer told me about celebrity photo shoots he did in the past and I found it super glamorous. Well that was until the photographer asked me to pose with a bunch of chickens.
At some point chickens were brought to Key West many years ago and abandoned so today many of them roam the streets. The gypsy chickens have become the symbol of Key West and are meant to bring you good luck. When the photographer explained to me they are the unofficial mascot of Key West I didn’t mind so much being photographed with them!
No trip is complete without a boat tour so I left from the Harbour early the next Saturday afternoon for a snorkel and sunset cruise. It was fun, but I wasn’t really talking much to the others on the boat so could have made more effort to join in with the younger party goers, but it was lovely to get out on the ocean. I wasn’t going to drink so made the most of the snorkelling instead.
Sadly the day came I had to leave. I took the bus to Miami, as my much cheaper return flight was from there. The bus took four hours and was a pleasant journey with water on either side of the road, and thick bush, with Caribbean vistas.
Once in Miami, I met a model girlfriend who was there for a fashion show. We met at the Delano where she was staying and I went to watch her in an outdoor runway cat walk.
My model friend insisted we swim in the Delano pool but I hated parading around in my bikini next to models and actresses, so made the swim short. Delano hotel is always housing one celebrity or another.
I told my friend the good news about the baby.
After a couple of days with her I headed out to my next adventure. India.
To hear about my other adventures in the USA, click here.