Thursday, April 29, 2004

They moved Paradise ......

..... and forgot to tell anyone.

As we get nearer and nearer to the day, 17 days from now, when we leave NH -- perhaps for the last time -- our attention is increasingly focused on the other end, the Key West end, of the two weeks we allowed to make the trek. We got a phone call from our former landlords a couple of days ago. They offered us our old apartment back, which was very nice of them, but they have to rent it for a lot more than we hope to pay. We'll probably pass on that.

The good news, though, is that they offered to let us stay in their apartment in late May and early June while they are visiting their families in New York and Michigan. We'll look after things and watch their dog. That's going to help a lot. It means that we won't have to stay in a guest house on arrival, and will have a little time to look around while deciding where to settle in while we look for the perfect houseboat to buy (or rent). There's a lot we don't know about houseboat living. It appears to be both exciting and affordable. We won't know for sure until we have a chance to talk to some of those doing it now. That'll be high on a list of things to do that we've been putting together.

John and David's apartment is in Old Town, so its a perfect base for getting back into the community again. We can walk or bicycle everywhere we'll need to go, except for occasional trips to the supermarkets and other places in New Town.

Janet's leg is still bothering her. She's been put on light duty at the University for the remainder of the time she'll be working. She's going to miss the people she got to know, the friends she made, at Kingsbury Hall. They've planned a party for her next Wednesday morning. She'll be asking for that day off, since she normally has only a half-hour lunch period, and has an appointment with her doctor later in the day.

There's a message spray-painted on the doors of a small garage on Charles St., next to Finnegan's Wake, that reads: They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot. Its location there, at that spot, is ironic testimony to the City Parking Garage, right across the street. The garage is a looming four-level, brick and concrete, open-sided building at the foot of Caroline Street, built a number of years ago, and under-utilized ever since.

I wondered out loud to a friend one day, at Schooner Wharf, "What if they moved Paradise, the old Key West, how it used to be, somewhere else and just didn't bother to let anyone know?" For over a year, I've been reading about Costa Rica and Nicaragua, but I find no evidence that its there now. The obvious disadvantage for most Yanqui's is the language barrier. Not that it can't be overcome, but knowing the native language of a country is absolutely necessary to living there in my opinion, and it takes a long time to learn to speak a foreign language like a native. Beyond the language barrier, though are a host of other difficulties -- cultural differences, differences in the law, medical care, national stability, and on, and on. So now we have to focus our search back on the continental U.S., or one of the English-speaking islands in the Caribbean. The islands are pretty much out of consideration, due to the cost of living there.

Over time, I've heard rumblings of places in Florida where the living is like old KW, without the crowding brought on by rampant tourism, high cost-of-living, and all those things that have infected Key West since the turn-around of the 1970's began an extraordinary, 35-year period of commercial and economic development. Landlords, most of them anyway, aren't in business to gouge tenants, but they are in business to earn a return on their investments over and above the cost of owning and operating a rental property -- commercial or residential. Were I in their postion, I would probably behave as they do, demand the same return on investment they demand.

So what's the answer, then? We aren't having any second thoughts about our decision. We look on this next step in our life together as Yet Another Adventure, one more of several we've had since we've been together. Yet, one must consider the down side of any decision made, what I learned to think of in another stage of my life, as Potential Problem Analysis. We've given those risks due consideration. We think that they are manageable -- and worth it.

Leave a light on for us. We're coming home!

1 comment:

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