Above the water full of marsh and landing on a short strip of concrete with beautiful vistas of sand keys and the gulf was a unique experience. The sound of the propeller and the engine as it slowed down is different from the usual sounds before hitting the runway. It is the only clue that the landing required special handling. He made it look and feel comfortable. If it wasn't for the sound of rubber screeching on the pavement from the next plane as it skidded, one would not realize the skills needed to land.
After tie-down, we began our walk into town. We had been asked if we wished for transportation via the radio, but there was little fanfare upon arrival. Walking on the quiet road with no sidewalk was a portal that will take us back in time. The birds' sound and the breeze against the palm trees reminded me of the times we spent looking for a place to sit along the shore in the Caribbean islands. How come a place so close, feel so remote, trapped in time, left to rot for our amusement.
The walk was peaceful and hot, people gathered next to the water, fishing rods on hand, as the day promised to be full of sunshine. The walk into town becamw a history lesson; the existence of the location dates to more than 500 years ago. Despite having fewer than 1000 inhabitants at the moment, it held an essential place in the Spanish network of ports in America and the Florida peninsula.
As if a mirage appeared in the distance, a brightly colored building laddered in pastel colors and baby blue woodwork trim made its appearance at one of the town's intersections. Walking into the coffee shop is undoubtedly stepping back in time; the store owner made sure to even include the vinyl record player blasting music through the Xylophone. 1842 Daily Grind and Mercantile is a place everyone that visits should try. The menu was much more contemporary. Still, the smell and feel of the site reminded of an earlier time, perhaps an easier time.
The waterfront was busier, with tons of trucks unloading their boat on the ramps and eager crowds looking to browse the shops, bars, and restaurants along the shore.
A boy's recurrent image in a bicycle with cat-like blue eyes, freckles, and a parrot on his shoulder made the rounds like clockwork reminding me of the hours passed. It was one of the few reminders of time as it appeared to stop for everyone while they were in town.
Golf carts appeared to be the predilect mode of transportation for the locals, they were so popular even the police had gotten on the 'cart.' Zipping -an extremely loose use of the term- around on a golf cart through the key, it was full of roundabouts and hidden driveways. Water access appeared to be widely available to everyone. The cart had a tendency to blast the exhaust pipe every time a gear change was in sight. The sound became familiar as did the town the more time went by.
Back on the landing strip -as naming it, an airport field would be an honor too dishonest for anyone to utter- people gathered to watch the planes land and depart. There was an array of singular machines on parade for viewers to see. The plane lifted, almost vertically, as the cement patch called for that. The island began to fade in the background, slowly departing sight. Was it a dream? A trip back in time? Perhaps. One thing is sure, it will look the same when anyone comes back.