Since St Croix, I left my WWOOFing post, met a Rasta couple, harvested for them for a month and learned to cut coconut in hand, flew to St Thomas, trespass-camped a night, wasn't impressed, ferried to St John to camp in the mangrove national forest for five days alone, found a lylo, a beachball and three expensive cigars and set sail on a fraught and stressful voyage, had my tent fixed with the help of some fishermen, snorkelled some amazing bays, hitchhiked and walked a-plenty, popped over to Tortola, WWOOFed on a bar/restaurant on a tiny island with 8 inhabitants, explored Virgin Gorda (which is fantastic!), sailed to Grenada with an amazing inspiring man, Carlos (four days without land which truly changed my life), camped in Trinidad off a horrible main road and watched fireflies, surprised my best friend by turning up unannounced in Florida to see her.
Wynwood in Miami was a little getaway for Aby and I to eat like students and chat like nutcases, emersed in rich hipster culture which felt inclusive and real for once. We liked it. There were things on the walls and we looked at them. The coffee was hot and strong and we drank it. The sun smiled at us so we smiled back.
Then we were in Florida. We walked, we talked, we sought. Aby, Annabel, Doug. I built a shed. Florida streets were no more generous as a trio than they were as a singlet for me before. We went south. Key West in a hire car, life suddenly ablur with endless interstates and coffee highs.
The Terrific Trio. 'Brits do it better'.
Freedom was utterly delicious before we even left Del Rey and we revelled in it, stopping willy-nilly for bookshops and a bird sanctuary. We learned through so many mediums- literature, people, nature. I suddenly realised I'm a huge geek and bought an informative animal identification card. My friends didn't ditch me, I am very lucky.
We got to Key West (after a brief clash with trailer trash who told us to "back the fudge up" as we were on her drive, and toted a hand pistol in brash defence. We ended up with the girls slept in a layby in the car, and me in my tent somewhere in a nearby cluster of trees. I definitely didn't trespass into a National Park). It was alternative, and wild, so many genres in the mixing pot and I liked it. Truman street was surreal. I visited an eco centre and learnt stuff about mangroves and ecosystems, then enjoyed an incredible art display of a man called Andreas Franke.
We went to a jazz bar and a man was wearing suspenders and a tutu. He seemed indifferent to his boyfriend's balance issues. A woman asked us to dance, all three of us, and I smiled descent, wondering what her disappointments were and wishing I could have solved them in a three minute boogey. The music was so good.
One day we snorkelled in a freezing ocean, six miles out and saw very little, then maximised liquid profits on the ferry back. That afternoon we visited the Garden of Eden, a famous local, and got naked. Nights were spent with Annabel in the car and I sleeping rough somewhere (usually the cemetery) with Aby taking her pick on company depending who offered the most comfortable pillow. It was perfect, nestled between lichened stone and marble lives long ago concluded.