Beware of the chickens; you’re in Key West!

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Slow down! Rooster crossing!

When thinking of Key West, you’ll probably see the ocean, the beach, the palms, the tropical plants, the lime pie and so on…but I’m not sure chickens would come to your mind…even if they should! Let’s see why!

Chickens came here together with the first pioneers who settled on the island about two centuries ago and they were really essential to them, because they supplied meat and eggs in a place that was almost completely isolated from the rest of the US. By the island development however, shops and drugstores became increasingly available, so that people didn’t have to keep their own farm animals anymore. This is how lots of chickens gained their freedom!

With the increasing immigration from Cuba in the 50’s, more chickens arrived in Key West, because immigrants took along all their possessions, including animals, all the more since cock fighting was unfortunately very popular in Cuba and then in the Florida Keys too. In the 70’s it became illegal and a lot of “ex-fighters” were freed. All these factors contributed to create the cheerful, colored and noisy population of the so-called “gipsy chickens” that you can now see in Key West: crossing the streets, in bars, in private gardens, on the top of parked cars…everywhere!

Half of the locals love them, while the other half hate them, but, anyway, everybody respect them and you can easily see how people drive slowly and carefully paying attention not to hit little chickens or bold roosters crossing the street.

The critics complain about the possibility that they carry some diseases to the inhabitants, get the beach dirty and make a lot of noise (in effect, roosters not only crow at the break of dawn, but you can hear them all day and all night long!)

On the other hand, chickens help keeping the cockroach and scorpion populations under control and their eggs and young fowl provide food for the local raccoons and hawks, so that nature can find a way to recover its balance by itself.

Anyway, to face the increasing number of fowls living free in Key West, the local government has established the Community Trapping Program. If there’s a young rooster that particularly bothers you, just trap it and take it to the wildlife centre, where they’ll take care of it and search an organic farm in Florida that will provide a more conventional life for this former gipsy chicken!

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Typical Key West houses

Enjoying the ocean at South Beach (Florida– USA)

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View of South Beach from Lummus Park

I love the sea…its ever-changing colors, its waves, its taste in the air…just everything 🙂

The most beautiful sea I’ve ever seen is the ocean in South Beach, Miami. I’ve heard that Pacific atolls are the best, but I’ve never been there so, up to this moment, Miami Beach wins 🙂

I was fascinated by the differences I noticed compared to the beaches I know well, that is the ones situated in Liguria (North West Italy) and Côte d’Azur (South East France).

First of all, South Beach is so wide that, even if it gets crowded at times, it never gets suffocating, since you always have a lot of empty space around and in front of you to watch the sea or to walk around. In my European experience, this is rarely possible, because the beaches are smaller and they get packed with people very easily, so that they always surround you, even into the water at times! This is something I don’t really like, since it make it impossible to quietly stare at the waves or to swim without paying attention not to hit people!

The beach is mostly free and there are only some spots where you can rent umbrellas and sun beds for the day. This is very similar to South France, while in Italy you can hardly find a free beach, especially in the north shores. Even if it’s a public beach, the sand and the water are very clean and there is always some police to check everything’s ok, which gives you the feeling to be really safe.

The only remark I can make is that the beach is completely dark at night, which can make it quite dangerous to walk around after sunset. That’s a pity, because I think that one of the must-do summer experiences is a night picnic in the sand with music, campfire and watermelon!

Another thing I loved in Miami were the long waves and the view of surfers practicing near the shore, not to mention that swimming in the waves is much more fun! Mediterranean sea is usually calmer and colder. I was so surprised by the hot water of this part of the Atlantic Ocean, because I had always thought it had very cold water everywhere, but I’ve been told that in South Florida you can enjoy the Gulf Current flowing from the Caribbean, so that the water temperature never drops below 24°.

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The sea at sunset in South Beach

In South Beach you can easily see some local fauna, such as big pelicans that almost touch your head while diving into the water, small fishes very close to the shore and also some fenced turtle nests on the beach. In fact, in the period between April and October, a lot of sea turtles come here at night to lay their eggs!

Another distinctive feature of South Beach is the view of the colored lifeguard cabins in art-déco style, perfectly matching hotels and bars in Ocean Drive!

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The typical lifeguard cabin

 

Waiting to leave for Nice (France) in two weeks, I’m taking one more look at the pictures I took in Miami almost 2 months ago!

Have a nice holiday!!!

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Miami sunset