nearly splashed by a dolphin!

I could live on this patio.

speaking of fantastic little food finds: frenchie’s cafe. we started the day wanting a light breakfast-y snack with intentions of finding a decent lunch not too long after. we found frenchie’s only a few blocks from our hotel, also on the quiet street i was growing fond of (simonton). from the front it looked to be just a tiny store front with a few chairs, but as we gazed through the barista’s prep area, we discovered a lovely private patio — only a few more tables but comfortable. the only other folks back there were self-described “maniacs” (from maine), which where jason grew up. actually, we ran into a lot of people from new england on this trip!

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we left frenchie’s (with a bag of goodies to try later) and set out on a slow meander on us highway 1.

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the six-toed cat cafe is right next to the hemingway house, but we missed it the first time around.

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tourist must do: see the ‘mile 0’ marker. check!

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banyan trees are neat.

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cruise ships are incredibly huge. they sort of make me nervous.

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truman’s little white house was cute — from the outside. we didn’t have much interest in a tour and i was carrying a backpack that made it difficult to navigate around inside. (it was crowded!)

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we wandered around mallory square a little bit, killing time. we made a formal stop at the aquarium the next day. but this day’s big adventure? a dolphin watching cruise!

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our tour had actually been originally set for the day before, but they called to reschedule us since it was such a cold, windy day. good call – this day had the absolutely most perfect weather! it was a fantastic day to be on a boat. on the ocean. no big deal.

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captain billy gave us a great afternoon! it was just him, me and jason, and two other couples.

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katie and austin sat at the front of the boat and got a nice show, but once we found the dolphins they swam all around us.

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it was so awesome. captain billy explained some of the biology around what was going on (there was either fighting or mating happening — or both) and answered our probably very frequently asked questions. it was just amazing to be so close to something so wild!

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i have to stop myself with these dolphin photos because i probably took about 500. i edited the collection on flickr down quite a bit, because how many photos of dolphin splashes does anyone need?

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niko and matro (from finland!) shared the back of the boat with us. am i creepy with these stealth photos? its memories, okay?

after a while we left the dolphins alone (actually left them with some other boats who had started visiting) and cruised out about 3 miles from shore to find a peaceful sponge garden for snorkeling. i don’t have photos of us in our wetsuit get-ups, i didn’t particularly care for either the flippers or the snorkel, and i only swam around in the water for a few minutes. i was in long enough to take a few deep breaths and a few long glances through my goggles to see the underwater garden (and maybe a few small fish), then i felt pretty freaked out about being in the ocean with all of the possible wildlife that could also be around. so i was able to get some photos of jason paddling around.

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i was sort of surprised at how much he enjoyed it! but i’m glad he did, of course.

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after everyone was back on board, billy cut up a fresh pineapple and starfruit for us to enjoy. we spent the rest of the time quietly floating, waiting for the absolute best view of the sunset.

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for dinner, jason and i wandered along the pier to find el meson — cuban food to celebrate being only about 90 miles from cuba! really delicious tamales, tried a couple varieties of plantains, and got some guava bread pudding to go for dessert at our hotel. yum!

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there was some kind of tour group visiting and at the end of our meal, they started convening to learn/display a sort of cuban square dance. fun to watch!

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