The first few days of the New Year are devoted to relaxation and exploration as Cutter Loose remains in Tavernier, docked at the home of friends Brian and Joyce. From our dock, we are afforded views of Tavernier Key, Hawk Channel and the Atlantic Ocean beyond Conch Reef. Nearly all of the residents of the canal have returned to their homes in Miami. This is a quiet and relaxing place.
New Year’s Day dawns warm and sunny. After a lazy morning absorbing the Sunday Times, we return to the US 1 bike trail, this time heading south to Islamorada. Contrary to its name, this collection of islands has nothing to do with the practice of Islam. The primary activity here is sportfishing, diving and snorkeling. Small hotels and local businesses cater to this trade.
Under a thickening cover of high clouds, Monday is the calm before the passage of a cold front. There is no rain associated with this front, but the wind begins to pick up in the afternoon. By Tuesday morning, the front has passed, bringing with it sunny skies, 25 knot winds and temperatures in the low 50s. This is the coldest weather we have experienced since St. Augustine. The cabin of Cutter Loose is a warm and cozy retreat. We venture outdoors in the afternoon for a bike ride to the grocery store as the temperature moderates.
Each day here at Tavernier, the temperatures become a little warmer. Social interaction increases substantially upon the arrival of Brian and Joyce from Fort Lauderdale. On Wednesday evening, Joyce prepares a seafood dinner and invites friends Tony and Julia. Tony was raised in Cuba and emigrated to the U.S. with his family. Through conversation, we begin to understand the animosity that many Cuban-American families hold for the leadership in their homeland. Many Cuban-Americans feel that positive change will occur in Cuba only after total collapse of the Island’s economy. They are generally proponents of a U.S. foriegn policy that isolates Cuba. They argue that relaxing travel restrictions between the two countries will have the effect of feeding the Cuban economy with tourist dollars that perpetuate the current regime.
Our visit with Brian and Joyce here in Tavernier has been delightful. We have enjoyed time ashore, cocktails on the deck, sunset cruises aboard Reef Rover and sumptuous meals around the dining room table. We will depart the canal at high slack tide in the morning en route to Marathon. Thank you once again, Brian and Joyce, for your warm hospitality.