When we arrived in the evening to our couchsurfing host’s house, we discovered a big isolated house in Naples. I couldn’t help thinking of the old horror movie called The Evil Dead. It was a very old house, not refurbished for a very long time, very scary and not welcoming. I got a text message from my couchsurfer saying she was not living there and she won’t be there tonight and I thought: “That sounds promising!” When the evening fell I double locked everything and I went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night and I heard weird noises in the living-room. Something like someone was walking back and forth very fast. I opened my bedroom door very carefully before noticing it was just lizards and geckos fighting one another! At least there were no demons… The next day we went to visit Naples and regardless of what we were told, there was not really much to visit… We took a boat across the bay to another Everglades town. Luckily, this was so interesting! We saw dozens of alligators and colourful birds and, on our way back, we held baby gators on top of visiting their local zoo. We drove all the way down crossing Florida in width through Alligator Alley to finally reach Miami Beach where a massive storm welcomed us. The water in the boat came up to our knees! I thought the whole of Miami Beach would be under water, but no! The good weather came back and we had nice local burgers. We drove to Homestead where our AirBnB host – a kind Latina single mother – was waiting for us!
We left early morning to head to the Keys: the southern archipelago of Florida. Here, a highway over 100 miles has been built to reach Key West, where Ernest Hemingway lived many years ago. We drove from island to island and finally stopped at Marathon where we spotted Tarpons: some kind of 200 pound pre-historic fish with no teeth, in a local port. People were feeding these monster fish smaller bait, nearby to a local market and a local restaurant. It was crazy to see how fast these tarpons were rushing to eat the small fish. They looked pretty much like barracuda but with no danger of being hurt as they have no teeth. A man closely was trying to fish for tarpoon with his bare hands, using a small fish in his hand as a bait. Obviously he could not manage to squeeze the tarpoon’s jaw and lift it with one arm: it’s too heavy. We stopped at Big Pine Key, where we entered a Dolphinarium: a place where they look after wounded or older dolphins.
We were happy to see these magnificent creatures, but it was heart-wrenching that they were not in their natural environment. They normally swim 50 miles per day and there, they were living in pools to protect them from any further abuse. We finally reached the last island: Key West where we discovered an overcrowded, over-expensive, over-built and over-touristy destination. There were too many people to move! It must have been a dreamy natural destination during Hemingway’s time but it has now been transformed into practically a theme park! Well, I guess when a place is nice, everybody wants to be there and this is what happens… I called a couchsurfer, confirming me he was waiting for us in Homestead. We drove the whole 100 miles back to meet a nice guy who gave us a room. His name was Carl, he has his own restaurant in Key Largo and he confirmed that he is ready to welcome two Work and Travel participants for next year! Good times! Thank you Karl ☺