The Florida Keys might very well be a dreamscape, a thin stretch of land (no — scratch that — a series of sandbars), with an impossible ribbon of highway stretched perilously across them all. Somehow, it seems insane that one can literally drive out into the ocean some 130 miles, flanked by the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. At the end of it all, Cuba is just 94 miles away.
Geography affects people — and when you live on a sand bar in the ocean, right in the path of a never ending parade of hurricanes, you might tends towards a certain sort of happy-go-lucky, hardy survivalist and perhaps even eccentric mindset. After all, the Keys are the old stomping grounds the notorious Caribbean pirates. A certain buccaneer spirit lives on — there is an embracement of the wild here. The Florida Keys is a
land sandbar of dreamers and abstract thinkers, of the restless and escapists with an urge to go as far South as they can (Hemingway was in this camp), and a fair share of garden-variety hedonists too.
I shot “Where the Wild Things Are” for National Geographic Traveler last September, literally on the heels of Hurricane Isaac who passed through a week prior as a tropical storm ruffling a few palm trees here and there. The locals were largely unperturbed by it. The article, written by the wonderful Elaine Glusac, focuses on the abundant wildlife, an inevitable aspect of life on a tropical sandbar in the ocean. It is a great read, full of tips offering up a new way to explore the Keys by enjoying the natural and human wildlife side by side.
Here is the layout and a few outtakes. And finally – a special thanks to my amazing editor and friend at National Geographic Traveler, Krista Rossow, who I always love to work with.
Check it out this month — in the December 2012 issue!