We are on the move again after a full month staying in Sarasota’s Turtle Beach. We absolutely loved this secluded quiet place, away from the crowds of tourists down in Siesta Key. The park became our home and all the people we met there became our friends and temporary neighbours.Some are from the local community, others, visitors like us.
Toma, from Russia, now married to an American and living in Sarasota
The most avid fisher-woman I’ve ever seen, full of energy and laughter. With a contagious smile on her face and strong accent, she would tell us stories of horror and unimaginable endurance from the Second World War in Russia, where Nazi bombs killed all of her family, and she survived for years living in a hole dug in the ground, starving. She knows the value of proteins and she celebrates every fish caught on her hook.
John, born in Montreal, Canada, now lives in Texas
He would tell us the funniest stories in the morning, passing through the park on his way to his 6-mile walk. We hope to see you again soon and here some more of those stories! Say hi to your daughter back in Montreal, and thank you for the fish!
Jan and Tony, from California, now live in Sarasota
Authentic Californian hippies, they thought us how to fish for flounders and sharks. And with reggae music running through their veins, and ours, we spent together a crazy evening at O’Leary’s Tiki Bar down in Siesta Village. Road Block, a surprisingly good reggae band, plays there every Friday between 6 and 10 p. m. and the place is packed with dancing people.
Candis, Harley, and Mia
On vacation from Fargo, Candis, Harley and their grand-daughter Mia, 7 years old, practically adopted Maya for a week, as Maya and Mia became best friends. They have rented an apartment in Tortuga, a condo near our park. The girls activities that week included: constant swimming in Tortuga’s heated pool; playing PetShops in Mia’s room; a legendary sleepover at their place; a very improvised dinner at our place in the park (with a shower curtain for a tablecloth, foam dishes, plastic cups and no knives for the turkey and sausages I grilled on the BBQ); another dinner at their place with Mia’s parents, who came for a weekend to get Mia. Harley, who is a professional jazz musician and can play on various instruments, played the clarinet for us, and the girls performed last-minute choreographed dances and skits, and we all got cheek muscle pain from laughing too much.
Ray, lives in Sarasota
As a way to escape the daily boring routine, Ray delivers pizzas from a restaurant two evenings per week with his flaming-red convertible Jaguar. We met him thanks to Wally, to whom he brings food Tuesdays and Thursdays. He started bringing us delicious pizza from the restaurant that didn’t sell the night before, as well as salads, chilli, even crab cakes, and other masterpieces that he makes himself.
The first time I tried a salad he made, I felt (like the one who escaped Plato’e Cave to discover the real world outside the cave) struck and enveloped by light. I then realized with nostalgia, I’ve been living in some sort of a salad cave all my life… But most of all, we enjoyed ray’s incredible stories and company. Thank you Ray!
Anna and Lucas from Bavaria, Germany
One day, they parked their car next to our Baba Ghanoush in the park and stayed with us for two unforgettable weeks. Nineteen-years-old, just out of high school, beautiful intelligent kids, they are touring Canada and America for a year before going back to college, sleeping in a car, cooking their own food on a small portable propane stove.
We thought them to fish at the beach, we trained at sunset following Lucas who is a track-and-field athlete, and, with two more Canadian friends who came to visit us for a few days, we went to Fort Desoto Park and we made sand sculptures.
We also grilled things on the BBQ and partied in the park, together with Wally, almost every night, around Ivo’s fires “made from scratch” out of dead wood and dry palm leaves.
Once, Wally wanted to have roasted lamb like the one he had in Crete years ago, and so he makes me take a pen and paper and write down the necessary ingredients: a boneless leg of lamb in a net from Publix; mint jelly for coating the meat; elephant garlic cloves; a specific type of charcoal, and a Key Lime Pie for dessert. We get the stuff and Anna and I rub the meat with olive oil and salt, poke wholes all over and stick in slices of garlic everywhere. Then, we wrap it in foil and we forget it on the grill for about three hours. Best lamb all of us ever had!
I also made salad with the free vegetables we get from the market every week. (Same as in Saint Pete, we volunteered to help a farmer in Sarasota’s Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays, and he gives us, for about half an hour of work, three-four boxes full of Fruits and veggies. There is enough for all of us: our family of four, Anna, Lucas, and Wally for a week!)
After dinner, at about 10 p. m., Wally calls a 24 hr. Walmart, electronics department and wants to buy new two-amp speakers for his laptop, which we got for him from his storage. We listen to Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries, full power, and it’s past midnight! The following days and nights, the park echoes with Wally’s favourites: Pavarotti, Leonard Cohen, Bob Marley, Willie Nelson. I can’t believe no one complains or calls the police. I guess everyone likes the music, we do. In any case, I promise myself we’ll get Wally some nice headphones soon.
The night before Anna and Lucas left, we took group portrait, 30 second exposure, with Wally asleep as a background. We miss you Anna and Lucas!
We love experiencing a place as opposed to just visiting it for a short period of time. Our plans are to return to Turtle Beach and our friends after visiting the boat show in Miami, and a catamaran for sale in Key West.