The weather’s improving so another day just enjoying the laid-back feeling that this place engenders. Warmer again but still windy. We went over to Bahia Honda, a key just back up the road a bit that boasts the best beach here. In fact, it was voted the best beach in America once. But it’s Spring break – a new phenomenon since we started coming here – and was a bit crowded. I can’t quite understand what this generation sees in tattoos. More youngsters that not have them, but the majority appear unsubtle, clumsy and horribly trendy. Nonetheless, it’s an enjoyable place and we walked the main area and old bridge with an ice-cream. It was still fairly windy but warm if you got some shelter.
The beach has white sand and the sea is a variety of blues that are out of a holiday brochure. When we first spent time here it was less crowded and we parked ourselves under a dead tree on the beach that had been bleached by the sun and worn silky smooth by the wind. Several hurricanes later the tree and most of that beach have been washed away but it was nice to see that we’d sat in the same place as Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford when they filmed Up Close and Personal here. Today it was windy but warm when you sheltered from it.
Our favourite watering hole in the Keys was a place called The Sandbar, along the road from Parmer’s on Berry Avenue. After driving down from Miami the first time and arriving at Little Torch Key, dry, hot and suffering sunstroke [the top was off the car then, too] I was reluctant to go anywhere far when there was a bar that I could walk to. When I did later that evening I found the barmaids in short, actually very short, shorts and they were on roller-skates. My request for a large, very cold beer was met with a litre can of Foster’s lager. It was a match made in heaven, reinforced by getting to know the owner, Banks Prevatt. The Sandbar was the preferred place of residence for a host of ‘Old Keys’ characters in caps, tee shirts and ripped-jeans shorts and we subsequently spent many a contented hour there. Our last evening in the Sandbar was historic with some of our family, victuals, music and dancing. Just after that Banks was made an offer by a couple that he couldn’t refuse and our Sandbar was sold – only to be renamed Parrotdise. Yes, I know. Gingham tablecloths replaced sodden beer mats and the authentic rustic decor was brightened up with tropical colours and palms. Needless to say prices went up, local characters disappeared and the customers changed to people who liked being served by men in colourful shirts with cute mannerisms.
How to replace a beloved bar? Having tried several over a few years I like The Boondocks on Summerland Key the best. We sat at the bar today and had quesadillas, jalapeños, cheese stuff and minced meat of some kind, all washed down with more cold beer than it was legal to drive after. Great music, great atmosphere – and barmaids.