I awoke this morning to the sound of the wind and the surf pounding the beach outside the sliding glass door to our balcony. Not unusual, but the sound is usually a lot more muted on the 17th floor. Even though the temperature was 70 degrees at 7 am, the gale force winds made it seem chillier.
I don’t expect any sympathy from my friends & family back in Missouri.
When I made it down to the beach in the afternoon, the lifeguard stations were sporting TWO warning flags that tend to discourage beachgoers. First was a red flag indicating a significant danger from the water itself – a strong current that might carry swimmers out to sea.
There was also a purple flag. That one was new to me. Not any more. A purple flag indicates a clear and present danger from marine life.
On our third day in Florida my wife and I and our friends from Osceola, Mo. attended a short seminar on how to LIVE LIKE A LOCAL. Before it started, we were gazing into the clear blue waters along the shoreline from the meeting room on the roof of the hotel. There was a single swimmer in the water. Not far from the swimmer we saw a large, dark shadow moving purposefully toward the unsuspecting swimmer. I thought we might witness a “How to get eaten like a local” moment. As the swimmer spotted the shadow moving toward him, he began to move purposefully in the OTHER direction. The shadow didn’t follow. We suspect it was a harmless manatee, aka “Sea Cow”.
During my walk I discovered the reason for the purple flag. Washed ashore by the heavy surf were dozens of Portuguese man-of-war.
According to Wikipedia, ‘the long tentacles of the man-of-war can deliver a painful sting which is venomous and powerful enough to kill fish or, rarely, humans”. The article said the sting is excruciatingly painful and that even a dead man-of-war on the beach can deliver a sting.
I enjoyed my barefoot walk along the beach despite the red & purple flags hoisted at the lifeguard stations. The wind was greatly stirring the waves which made them even more beautiful and the Portugese intruders stranded on the beach were a lot easier to spot and avoid on land than in the water.
The only thing that has caused me bodily harm on this trip has been a rogue chihuahua.