Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spring In Bahama Village

Key West is settling into that time of year which defines Spring in the land of endless summer.  This is the time of year between Winter, when people flock here to escape profound cold Up North and Summer when people lock here with their families for waterfront vacations in the sun. Autumn is the other quiet time when the Summer folk leave to go back to daily lives of routine, yet it's before the Winter hordes come rushing back after the first snowfalls. 
So for anyone who imagines the four seasons in Key West look like they do in more temperate climes, I hope I have disabused you. No lingering ice patches here, no bravely thrusting daffodils, no lambs gamboling in fields, no gradually longer days promising summer twilight. Well, it's true that nightfall comes later now, around eight o'clock, but that's thanks to the imposition of summer time (daylight savings) as the sun doesn't move that much north and south of the Equator at these latitudes. 
Spring time sees cool nights and gradually warming days, fewer cars, and more space. Crowds are thinning though there are still plenty of people in town. Walking down Fleming and turning onto Thomas behind the courthouse (The "Freeman Justice Center") I was alone with my phone camera. I recommend long night time walks in Key West, they give you a whole new view of the city and you can stand around and take in the details of anything that catches your eye.
Courthouse, 302 Fleming Street, Key West
We live in fear filled times  so I have to justify my pleasure as an eccentricity but I find many small pleasures are sacrificed in the name of "safety." While it's true crime is everywhere I have never found myself confronted or accosted or even bothered by anyone on my night time rambles. Perhaps like Ghengis Khan they see me coming and tremble in fear at my awesome reputation. Which seems rather unlikely so I am forced to fall back on my belief that there really aren't bad guys lurking everywhere. You may be less lucky.
The sorts of crimes that Key West excels in are the petty thefts and drunk mis-behaviors that aggravate. Bicycles get stolen almost in front of the owners's eyes if they are left unlocked for a second. Scooters vanish and are reportedly chopped for spare parts, so beware if you ride a popular model. And for many people in Key West a scooter is the daily rider so scooter theft is a serious problem. Lawn furniture vanishes, fruit is picked off trees (a major no-no in Conch culture, so don't do it) and drunks may pass on out on strangers' porches. But if you can look past these intrusions you can wander the streets and bring only a camera, and a dog if you have one.
I am not a devotee of beauty supplies but this store fascinates me as it reminds me of the shops will see in the true Caribbean or the Bahamas (which islands are not actually, like Key West. in the Caribbean Sea which lies south of Cuba and Puerto Rico).
They have a special tax fund in Bahama Village to support the comunity that holds out wedged between Duval Street and the military base and the now gated community of Truman Annex. Lately there was a big debate over whether or not to create a museum on civil rights at the Douglass (sic) Gym. There was a more practical use suggested as a band room which ultimately won out. The Village, historically African American is also home to the city's swimming pool, parks and the only mosque (Masjid) in Key West. All services offered including historic buildings getting the repair treatment:
American Legion Post 168, Key West
In a town that seems to be reveling in transformation at the expense of history, at least in architecture, Bahama Village is honoring it's past and I like that.