15 Reasons Not to Visit the Florida Keys {humor}

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Ah, the Florida Keys… Carefree days filled with fun, sun and fancy umbrella drinks, right? Well, not exactly. I’ve learned that living in The Florida Keys isn’t quite what it seems.

So before you pack your polka dot bikini and fly south for the winter, check out the everyday reality of Life in the Florida Keys:

1. Hold onto to your floppy hat! That cool tropical breeze is actually a Category Five hurricane making its way from Africa, heading directly for Key Largo.

2. Spectacular sunsets feature massive mosquitoes, sucking enough blood from us to buzz all the way back to Miami.

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3. (Cue Jaws soundtrack) Diving excursions turn you into instant shark bait.

4. Those “authentic” Florida Keys conch shells are plastered with Made in China stickers.

5. Modern-day pirates set up souvenir shops to pillage and plunder. “Interested in buying a crappy, overpriced Key West T-shirt, matey?”

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6. Ernest Hemingway’s famous Key West cats are really stuck-up (or maybe they’re just hung over).

7. One visit to the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet blows your chances of squeezing into that teeny weeny bikini.

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8. That fishing trip won’t be so exciting once you realize you’re on the hook for $199 per hour. (Oh, and the fish that got away was not “THAT BIG!”)

9. After basking in the blazing sun all day, you’ll begin to resemble patients in hospital burn units.

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10. Our beach buddy is a twelve-foot alligator, just waiting to join us for a swim.

11. (Cue the Pina Colada song) You’d better really like piña coladas because each frozen concoction is fourteen bucks at the tiki bar!

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12. With the sweltering heat and 99-percent humidity, you’ll probably be stuck inside that “ocean-view” dump you booked online. Although the room reeks of rotten fish and stale smoke, at least it has air conditioning.

13. Coco-Loco! People actually die from falling coconuts (because they aren’t smart enough to realize that coconuts are harder than their heads!)

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14. Observing Key West’s Fantasy Fest makes Girls Gone Wild videos look like Disney flicks.

15. So, “Welcome to The Florida Keys: Come on vacation. Leave on probation.”

Photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Have you ever had a dream vacation turn into a disappointment? Please share!

The History of Hemingway’s Mojitos [recipe]

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 “Never sit at a table when you can stand at the bar.” 

-Ernest Hemingway

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mojito  (mo·ji·to)

Definition: A cocktail made of rum, sugar, lime juice, crushed mint leaves, soda water, and shaved ice.

Considered one of Cuba’s oldest cocktails, the Mojito was made famous by Ernest Hemingway. A debate exists as to meaning of the name itself – Mojito. Some say it get its name from the Spanish word “mojar” which translates to “a little bit wet”.  Others say Mojito is from the African word “mojo”, meaning “to cast a spell.”  No doubt, partaking in more than a couple of these wet Cuban concoctions and you will definitely be under a spell (and may even behave badly)!

“Everyone behaves badly — given the chance.”

– Ernest Hemingway,

The Sun Also Rises 

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The Mojito was first popular among “badly-behaved” pirates and other questionable characters in the Caribbean. One legend has it that the Mojito originated in Cuba in the 1500’s when the crew of  Sir Francis Drake (known by his enemies as the Pirate El Draque or The Dragon) suffered from scurvy.  As a cure, the Cuban locals added lime, mint and sugar to local rum to make it more palatable (the rum back then was not high quality.)

Other popular myths claim that the Mojito was invented by Cuban field workers or African slaves on sugar cane plantations. Either story you believe, a very important ingredient of Mojitos is fresh mint.

Boy, do I have tons of fresh mint in my herb garden! I planted three types of mint (Mentha spicata (apple mint, chocolate mint and spearmint). Little did this novice gardener know that this stuff spreads like crazy! Who knew that you were supposed to plant mint in containers because it was so invasive? Now I have enough mint to start my own toothpaste factory!

Mint mania!

Mint!

Well, I dug up some mint and shared it with friends, neighbors and even with my Grandma (in containers of course!) I have experimented with mint tea, mint lemonade and  mint smoothies. I have added mint to salads and main courses.  I even wrote a blog post featuring mint. What else could this Garden Girl do with all of this cooling, fragrant herb?

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Three types of mint in my garden

Alas, an epiphany! After a recent court appearance in Key West,  I was driving by Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home, and it dawned on me.. MOJITOS!!

Ernest “Papa” Hemingway, the great American novelist, loved indulging in Minty Mojitos at La Bodeguita del Medio while living in Cuba. “It has also often been said that Ernest Hemingway made the bar called La Bodeguita del Medio famous as he became one of its regulars and wrote “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita”.  Hemingway’s original signed writing is said to still be on display at La Bodeguita.

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“My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita.”

“Drinking is a way of ending the day.”

–  Ernest Hemingway

My refreshing Minty Mojitos are perfect on hot summer days (or any day!)  Adjust the sugar and mint, to taste. ¡Salud!

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Minty Mojitos

adapted from about.com

1 serving

Ingredients:

6-10 fresh mint leaves (preferably spearmint), plus 1 mint sprig for garnish

2 teaspoons Sugar in the Raw or light brown sugar

2 ounces fresh-squeezed lime juice

1 ½ to 2 ounces light rum

Splash of club soda** (chilled)

Ice (preferably crushed)

Preparation:

1.  In a tall Collins glass, add the mint leaves, lime juice and sugar. Gently muddle with a pestle to release oil from the mint.

2.  Add rum and stir.

3.  Add ice and top off with a splash of soda. Stir.

4.  Garnish with mint sprig.

**Hemingway preferred a splash of champagne.

***

Papa Hemingway’s birthday is July 21st.  Let’s raise our glasses and give a birthday toast to The Legend who made the Mojito famous, using Hemingway’s own words:

“Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual.”

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Toasting my friends over at Fiesta Friday #25! Cheers!

Do you have a great Mojito or summer cocktail recipe?  What is your favorite quote from Hemingway?

La Bodeguita del Medio photo courtesy of  Martin Abegglen

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.