I overheard a tourist once in Key West while they were studying a map of the city and when that long distant voice comes back to me I hear surprise that a town as small as Key West has distinct districts. Key West is a small but potent melting pot of districts and cultures, languages and histories.
Casa Marina surrounds the hotel that name on the south west corner of the island, and though boundaries are generally not well defined you will know when you are in Casa Marina. You will see the usual mark of affluence: trees.
Robert Frost, an occasional winter visitor to Key West wrote a poem whose most quoted line refers to good fences making good neighbors. I have read that the line, usually quoted as an obvious truth, was meant in irony. You don't have neighbors if you have an impentrable wall. Like this:
Casa Marina is where you find trees and walls and American-sized houses on suburban lots. Gardeners and pool trucks cruise the broad streets and in winter here like elsewhere in town, life returns.
If you have ever seen closed circuit television pictures, or wanted posters with fuzzy images you wonder what reassurance these loud notices give to homeowners in the Hamptons or at Davos or Wherever it is they over summer. I trust the jerky images of Rusty and I ambling by gave them all good cheer.
It's like a park, is Casa Marina, especially in the heat of summer. The shade trees, the abundance of green, the lack of ownership and thus responsibility, I might as well be in a perfectly tended public space. Casa Marina gives me time and space to think. No dodging cars or tourists bemused by oddly shaped Key West. Casa Marina is normal.
There are no convenience stores here so if you are hydration-obsessed this is a place where the ubiquitous plastic water bottle seems remotely necessary to me. But then I stand and stare and the need for the practical is replaced by wonder.
Crime watch. Judging by the sign it doesn't seem to be a priority, watching for crime in a neighborhood of walls becomes an individual responsibility. So Rusty and I walk and enjoy our park.
And here and there slivers of older Florida mix it up between the modern homes and gardens. Of walls there are none:
Rusty, the best neighborhood watcher; Casa Marina just another neighborhood to watch.