I love Houston but I have to say that I was not very happy about leaving Key West yesterday. I arrived at Intercontinental at about 1:30 PM in a mood that was less than enthusiastic to say the least. I missed my daughter and I know she missed me too but I wish I could have stayed on the island a few more days.
Where, oh, where do I begin? I guess I’ll start by saying that this install was a very important one. It’s a test site for this particular chain of hotels. If they’re happy with what this water treatment system does for them then we may get, as the chief engineer of this place said, another 50 or more accounts after this one. I am certain that this hotel will be happy with the results and that could mean that I’ll be flying off to some other interesting place in the near future. We’ll see.
Forget work. I want to talk about the fun side of Key West. I was lucky enough to be staying (comped) at the La Concha-Grand Plaza hotel on Duval Street. This was the hotel Ernest Hemingway favored when he visited Key West. I think it was constructed in the late twenties. I really like Papa Hemingway and it was sort of a thrill to be staying in his favorite hotel which had pictures of him in the lobby. The photos of him on the walls were a bit of a comfort as I tried keeping my balance while waiting for the elevator to come down. I’ll be totally honest and say that I did party my brains out after work while I was there.
In my defense I will say that that is pretty much the norm for this place. However, I was in much more control of myself than everyone else. While some guys (and some girls) were being tossed out of places I was just sitting in my seat or standing in my place laughing to myself knowing that they deserved it. I have never seen so many drunk people in the same place at the same time. It’s no wonder that the locals can’t stand the tourists. The visitors are either an ass or a pain in the ass. Believe me, once the sun goes down there isn’t a sober person in sight, at least on Duval Street.
Duval Street is a combination of Venice, California and New Orleans, Lousiana. It’s sort of like Venice beach meeting Mardi Gras halfway. It’s legal to walk down the street with a beer in each hand and there are street musicians, street “vendors” and various other lunatics willing to “entertain” you for a small fee. Actually, for nothing if you choose not to tip them. Duval is completely lined with restaraunts, bars, retail shops and expensive B&B type lodging. In fact, everything there is expensive. Ridicoulously expensive. Rather than using our company credit cards, our boss sent us off with cash. I like this better than using the credit cards because the boss doesn’t need any reciepts, doesn’t care how we spend it and whatever we don’t spend is ours to keep. It’s one of the perks of traveling for the company he says. Yep.
Day two on the island, we needed a two inch ball valve overnighted to us. While my work partner was talking to the boss about that he said “Hey, man, we’re gonna need some more money out here.” I thought he was just joking with our boss. The next day with the ball valve were two envelopes with an extra $80.00 in it for us with this handwritten on the envelope: “Stay out of jail.” I kept that envelope and I’m saving it. It’s very funny to me because in all the years I’ve known him, I’ve never once heard him crack a joke. Then again, maybe he was serious.
I took some pictures there but most of them were taken at night and since I was using a cheap disposable camera they didn’t come out right (that sentence sounded like two lines in a song). Anyway, the only day pictures I got was while I was working and they are of these guys.
The first morning there I got up before dawn, walked to the donut shop for coffee and headed back to the hotel. As I was walking back I thought I heard roosters crowing. I thought my mind was just playing tricks on me since I never get up this early unless I’m going to the beach. Back at the hotel I was on the second story balcony and I started hearing it again. At that point I thought “Wow, someboday has some chickens in their yard.” Nope. I found out later that day that they run the streets like pigeons and grackels. Nobody owns them. They’re what you would call street roosters and they aren’t afraid of anything. I also saw groups of roosters, hens and chicks walking up, down and across streets. It’s so funny to me that nobody pays attention to them and they seem to understand that. Although they do know to dodge the Mopeds, Harleys and what few cars are there.