Monday, December 17, 2012

Sleeping on the water

        We arrived at "our place" (rented) in the Keys a couple of days ago, but before I post pictures of our new life, I wanted to share a story about our trip down here.
        Steve is known for seeking economical accommodations and I often tease him about the "bargain" that turned into a nightmare when we discovered the motel backed up to a railroad. A train went by at midnight and 5 a.m. and shook us right out of bed.
        But this trip's bargain may replace the train story forever. In his defense, I must give Steve several stars. He had already agreed to add about 150 miles to our trip from Michigan to the Florida Keys so I could visit the beautiful beach in Panama City. After a day and a half of driving, we arrived in Panama City about 2 p.m. Thursday and started looking for a motel on the beach. We had stayed there for three months two years ago, so we knew there were lots of reasonably priced hotels.
Fantastic view from our room.
         But we were traveling with a cat and none of the places we checked would accept pets. Steve had already been turned down at at least six places. We were even considering leaving the cat in the van overnight. But then we stopped at a runned down older place. I knew something was up when Steve returned to the car with a big grin.

         A deal, he said. The owner would accept our cat but the only room available had a problem. The roof had leaked and they were cleaning it up. They would rent it to us for $40 cash, under the table. That was the deal.
          The whole place was questionable. In addition to the people working on the roof, other workers were repairing the stucco walls. An older, grandpa sort of guy and a kid about 12 or so were building something that looked like bed frames out of 2X6. The hammering and sawing wasn't so bad but they were doing the work in the walkway so we had to dance around and through the project in order to get our stuff to the room.
          While we waited for the manager and her teenage son to sweep out the room and add an armload of threadbare towels, I walked along my beloved beach that I had walked so many times two years before. It was chilly, in the 50s and windy, but sunny and I had a great walk. I decided the surf sounded like the Earth's heartbeat. In and out, whoosh, whoosh.
       Although the building was tattered, and the property littered with soda cans and remnants of the roof repairs, the view from the patio in front of our room was spectacular. Right there on the beautiful beach. Out of the wind on the patio, with the sun shining,  it was warm enough to sit and have a drink, chat with a crazy tenant who lived in the room next door and watch the sun set.Families walked the beach and children giggled as they played on the raised deck over part of the motel. The next morning, the school bus would stop for those same kids, but when I saw them playing I thought they were on vacation. I had no idea they lived there.
         "This is where the poverty of the beach goes," said our next door neighbor, who kept his kayak in his room.
Steve vistis with our neighbor outside the room.
        Our room had ceramic tile on half the floor, under a table in front of a window that overlooked the beach, or would have if the window wasn't fogged up. The tile floor ran in front of a kitchenette with a rusted fridge and a greasy stove and a tiny sink, past an awkward partition into a little bathroom with a shower stall and a toilet that was hinky about flushing.
        In the center of the room were two double beds on carpet. We didn't even go over to that part of the room until we returned from the restaurant later that night. I sat on the side of the bed and removed my shoes. When I put my feet down on the carpet I couldn't believe the squish. The carpet was beyond soggy. The leaky roof had left the carpet in inches of water. When we pulled back the bedspread, half of one of the beds was soaked as well. I slept on the other half of the wet bed because it was on the edge of the carpet and I could get in and out on the dry tile. Steve slept in the other bed and had to wade in and out across a sea of smelly carpet.
              We had to laugh about Steve's "deal." I'm sure he'll bring it up anytime I suggest I want a room on water!!!

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