We returned from the inaugural annual Potgooi (Afrikaans Podcast) conference on Sunday. The ôconferenceö bit is sort of true, but really it was a side product of our trip to Florida. The primary reason for the trip was to finally meet (and stay with!) with some friends we met online through the blogging and Afrikaans podcasting community.
The friends were the Beukesse from the famous (or is it notorious?) Boerseun blog/podcast. The Boere were extremely entertaining – at times inadvertently so – hosts. They really went out of their way to show us what Florida has to offer.
On Saturday we went to an Ice Hockey game that unfortunately the local team, The Panthers, lost. Johann showed us his dark side as well by “smuggling” my camera in to the arena.
On Sunday we were shown how the rich and famous live at Palm Beach. This is where Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, Michael Jackson and Donald Trump have their holiday homes. The area is nice, but it feels very controlled and the relaxed atmosphere of the Keys (see below) puts Palm Beach in the shade. Pun intended.
On Monday & Tuesday Johann & Veron had to graft so we experienced a bit of the working life in Florida. This is something that I really found interesting as it is not something we would have exposure to as normal tourists. We also visited both Veronica & JohannÆs offices. At Johann’s office I cracked a joked about his coding to one of his colleagues, but he is so revered there that no-one thought it funny!Then on Wednesday the real magic started! The Florida Keys is as beautiful and charming a place as I’m ever likely to visit. The only problem with the Keys is that it is difficult to express their beauty. I did take some pictures though and you can see these at The Florida Gallery.
I’m quite emotional about wide open spaces and for me the Keys are right up there with the grasslands of East Africa and the deserts of Africa. It really ôtouches my soulö. The water in the Keys is so clear that seeing stingrays and big fish is not difficult. And that colour; oh that colour!
The people there are also really friendly. It almost makes one forget about your anger towards their Administration. Almost. Although things seem very relaxed there is a joke that the millionaires are all being bought out by the billionaires û and I can believe it.
We stayed in the HawkÆs Cay Resort on the Duck Key in Marathon. They were quite pricey, but it is right next to the sea and there is a lot to do in the immediate vicinity.
It is true that The Keys are probably as famous for hurricanes than for its beauty, but in my opinion û and that of our sailing tripÆs captain, Captain Dale û that natural vulnerability contributes to the wonder.
I can do nothing else but to give The Florida Keys my highest recommendation.
On our whole trip the Boere made sure we ate very well. The food in the US is very good, but my best meal was probably the Mahi Mahi in the Keys – I think it is a local species. The steak we had in West Palm Beach came second. The best dessert whithout a shadow of a doubt is the Key Lime Pie. Do you now see why the Keys are so great?
On our way back we stayed over in Houston, Texas, but after Florida this was a big let down. Apart from being the fattest city in the world (seriously) the people were miserable.
Above are only some of the highlights. But even with all of these great things the trip still wouldn’t have been as great if we didn’t have the very good company of Johann & Veronica. We really got on like a house on fire. It actually felt strange at times; we’d only met these people a couple of days ago!
I’m now very much looking forward to the 2nd annual potgooi conference. We have been mentioning the Bosveld in South-Africa as a possible venue. I think this is a great idea. Hopefully many of us can attend this – especially as it will be in South Africa. The only thing is that whatever else we arrange for the future, the bar has been set very high this year.