I had better say this now and allow the chips to fall where they may: I am not looking forward to summer. I was on Duval Street at four o'clock the other day and, aside from the fact that vaccinated me had his mask on, it was hot enough to boil an egg on my head. I ran back to the office and stood in front of the a/c for a few minutes before resuming the arduous task of unraveling parking violations and noise complaints and relationships gone bad.81 degrees this time of year feels like 95 in September.
I parked the car on Southard, abandoning satellite radio and air conditioning for the hot streets of Key West and decided to invigorate my work day with a brief hike with my small camera (Lumix LX100ii) to see what marvels and unconsidered trifles may present themselves to my jaundiced eye. I saw some shadows and light but I also saw a ton of people. Duval was looking like the good old days.
They are now telling us the end of the pandemic is in sight and even though there may be more cases in the winter when Northerners crowd together indoors we will end up living in a country where the vulnerable will be vaccinated and the anti vaxxers can take their chances.
Right now Key West is in vacation mode. Officers are posted to get people to wear masks and of course people comply. But when the badge is a distant memory holidaymakers are less enthusiastic about covering up.
Stores require masks, along with shirts and shoes but outside its a cat and mouse game of warning-mask- walk away- take it down. I was walking and photographing
I am so used to wearing a mask, as a sheep in government service you might say, it doesn't bother me unless my glasses fog up when I'm aiming the camera. Not everyone on Duval Street is on vacation:
A new-to-me eatery in a spot that has undergone a few transitions over the years. They have an $11 banh-mi sandwich that I might be interested in trying and they have outdoor seating too. I used to live near San Jose in California where a huge number of refugees lived after the Vietnam War, and they had some astonishing places to eat in the 1980s when Vietnamese food was largely unknown. I had my first banh-mi there and even now that it is become a fad I still like that mix of French and Far East.
Duval Street is a tired old whore in some respects when you look at the sleazy t-shirts and tired cheap "souvenirs" and yet the architecture, the bones of this old street remains the same, the underlying beauty of the buildings and the facades is very much there if you look up. And on a hot sunny afternoon as the sun heads for the horizon I see delicious shadows and the promise of a cooler evening. The light can be quite lovely.
The cruising up and down on Duval is endless, with a stream of bicycles and scooters and I find myself surprised there aren't more accidents. Which is to say there are quite enough thank you but I feel all too often Duval is confused with Disney, and traffic here is not make believe like it is in Disney where people don't crash in the happiest place in the world.
I don't know if the two wheeled vacationers, persons who would not be seen dead at home on work horse bicycles or scooters, take the time to look around as they ride, to ponder the history and the people who lived here all the way back to 1828. I do and it fills me with wonder. Duval Street is a story of survival.
They speed by on wheels of all sizes, not all shapes as even in this town all wheels tend to be round and obey the laws of physics.
Just off Duval I passed one of the denizens of Old Key West, and I've seen her shuffling around downtown, neat and tidy, in her own world, minding her own business, no trouble to anyone. It makes me glad she can still hang in among the new arrivals, the busy, the efficient, the wealthy. All is not lost.