before but one of the things I love the most about New York is its close proximity to tropical paradise, particularly in the midst of the bitterly cold winters, and short escapes to South Beach are now a January ritual for me. The Caribbeans are less than 4 hours away and it turns out that the Keys, despite being a couple of hours drive south of Miami are pretty straight forward to get to and equally heavenly.
A couple of weekends ago, a group of about 15 friends and I headed down to Islamorada, a tiny spot about half-way down the Keys to celebrate our friend FM's birthday. She is originally from Florida and wanted to celebrate this significant milestone surrounded by her family, her closest friends and on the beach! Something we all agreed was a rather fine idea.
We only stayed in the resort for three days and most of our time was spent in the lagoon, where we could swim in the sea without worrying about the strong currents of the ocean or the creatures with sharp teeth that inhabit it!
CS, ES and I did get to swim with dolphins which was something I had dreamed about doing for a very long time. They are such amazing creatures - incredibly gentle and graceful in their movements - and I loved every minute of it, even when the dolphin trainer asked me to swim out to meet one of the dolphins, Sebastian, as she had something special in mind for me. As Sebastian had just "kissed" ES and gotten a hug from CS in the previous stunts, I got a little worried about the increasing level of intimacy we were asked to share with him and what mine might entail! Was I going to be used for a hybrid dolphin/human insemination project?! All joke aside, it turns out that when Sebastian emerged from the sea in front of me, all I had to do was shake his fins :-)
Much fun was had by our raucous group throughout our stay and I have to say that our behaviour would have made any prepubescent teenager proud - from jumping fully clothed in the pool at 2am while frankly very inebriated, to involuntary parodying "Dirty Dancing" when the lovely boys we met at Tom's bar one night invited us to a house party which turned out to be staff quarters as they all worked at our hotel!
No-one made us carry watermelons* but I have a feeling that, should I decide to go back to the resort and get tennis lessons, it won't be too much of a problem! Finally, we ended the weekend in style by driving back to Miami airport in a gorgeous, gleaming red convertible Mustang.
The weekend was bittersweet however as two of my closest friends (including the birthday girl herself) are leaving in the next couple of weeks. I've written before about the City's transience and it is again proving to be the case, reminding me that this place is not as easy to live in as we'd all like to believe. MT is leaving after just 2 years, as she missed her family back in the UK far too much and never felt at home here. FM is at a stage of her life where she wants to meet a decent man and settle down to have kids - something that's hard to find in New York unfortunately ...
I feel fortunate that at least we were able to spend an entire weekend together in an ideal setting with the rest of our girlfriends, all feeling connected by a friendship that is stronger than any physical distance that life may put between us.
* For straight male readers - this is a bad reference to a scene in Dirty Dancing!