Key West is a subtropical environment abundant with the flora and fauna unique to areas slightly above or below the tropic of Capricorn and the tropic of Cancer. Having grown up in a subtropical environment, I felt right at home amongst the frangipani, hibiscus and profuse boganvillia. Interestingly though, non of the flowers or trees on the Island of Key West were actually native. All of the palm trees were introduced and we were told that the only native plant was the mangroves. Despite the islands being full of non native vegetation it was indeed beautiful and took on a more ‘perfect’ look because of the introduced species. It was such a treat to be present in these colours, textures and fragrances once again, and to see my Children enjoying the subtropic blooms as much as I did as a child. We allowed a ‘pick flower’ policy while on holiday as there were just so many flowers – everywhere, that it seemed unnecessary to curb the flower fun. From the time the Girls woke, they were out in their PJ’s playing with flowers…and this went on all day…If someone were to ask Maya what she did in Key West, she would probably say, “I swam in the pool and picked flowers!”
Within moment of arriving we were treated to the sites of local fauna. Key West is famous for the roosters, chickens, and chicks that roam all over the town. They were introduced by the Cubans, drawn to Key West by the Cigar industry in the 1800’s. The Roosters were brought for cock fighting which was outlawed in the 1970’s. This meant the Roosters were out of work, and put out on the streets of Keys West. Somewhere along the road the roosters met up with domestic hens. Today they are known as the Gypsy Chickens, and you will see lots of them roaming freely in Key West. Maya and Elle loved finding a Chicken family, and following them around, trying to get close to the chicks. I had a laugh one evening when we were out for a stroll and Elle said “Bye rooster, bye other rooster, bye chicken, bye other chicken, bye baby chicken, bye other baby chicken”. Nice to know that even while some locals wish the 4am cock-a-doodle-doo-ing Rooster would leave town, there was one little tourist that loved them!