Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Florida Pictures II

Sarasota's beaches, and Siesta Key's especially, are famous for their white sands. These are indeed pleasing alike to the eye, the smell, and the feeling sensations of the body. As you can see the sand is very velvety and adheres to the body almost like cake frosting, but is laid so delicately and evenly as to make for a firm ground with a soft, tempering cover. They merit their reputation.
The baby reposing after a sojourn in the pool. The luxuries at Jamaica Royale do not much postdate the 1960s in their complexity and the level of ability and education needed to fully indulge in them, which I am much more comfortable with than I would be with more up-to-date amenities.

My only real lament with this resort, and I did not realize that this was what was nagging me until the second year I was there, is that we do not have our own grapefruit and orange trees outside the bungalow from which to procure a fresh morsel for breakfast in the morning, which we had had when I went to Florida with my grandmother in 1981 and stayed with her friend Marge. Fruit trees of any kind in fact are rather sparse in Sarasota, which is a shame, as these are one of the simple and beautiful delights of the Florida experience, and one almost forgets about them if one doesn't see them.

Devoted readers of this blog will perhaps be astonished to discover that I spent an entire day of my trip at the Busch Gardens mega-amusement park. This excursion was a gift from a very generous relative who I suppose wanted to give my children one day of carefree fun as a respite from the strict regimen of Greek drills, music lessons and political debating to which I ordinarily subject them. While I am not a fan of theme parks, and would not at this point be willing to shell out for us all to go to one myself (at least one of the really expensive ones), I am not so grand as to be able to dismiss such a gift by impressing upon those who would give it onto the point of shame that I, as well the children, are too sophisticated and dignified to have the slightest interest in such vulgar mass entertainments.

Busch Gardens in Florida, for such readers as may have too much dignity to know anything about it, is basically a large zoo with rides and several scattered clusters of eateries, gift shops, arcades, toilets, etc, the architecture of which are supposed to represent various countries in Africa. If one reads a lot of yuppie travel literature, which I do, one of the standard mantras of the genre is some variation of the idea that ordinary Americans believe that going to a theme park representation of a foreign country is pretty much the same as going to the actual country, indeed better because they don't have to deal with any discomfort or unpleasantness, physical or cultural, which many commentators nowadays hold to be a necessary element not merely of good travel but of every area of life that is worthwhile. I snapped the photograph below in the "Morocco" section of the park. The building is a theater and when I stood beside it I was quite impressed by the effort taken by the architects to create a Moroccan fantasy. It is, when removed from any context, a quite beautiful structure, and if were very wealthy and had to live in Florida I would be delighted to live in a mansion just like it. I did not imagine, however, that there was anything remotely connected to the real Africa about it.
In addition to gigantic roller coasters and water slides Busch Gardens had lots of kiddie rides. This one had Sopwith Camels alternating with the Red Barons but what boy is not going to choose the red plane with the scary-looking cross on it?

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