|Photo courtesy of Mike Hentz of the Key West Citizen newspaper.|
So you’ve finally made it to Kona Kai for a long-anticipated vacation. Flip-flops and sunglasses are in the “ON” position and you’re ready to unwind. Perhaps you are planning on spending your vacation doing as many fun and interesting things at as many places as possible, or spending almost all your time here at Kona Kai, focusing on some serious relaxation.
You might recall Tracey or Denise mentioning something during your check-in about doing a tour of our Botanic Gardens with a guy named Rick who is some sort of ethnocalabalofrotanist (a.k.a. ethnobotanist). This was probably too much for your mind to handle at the moment, as you were probably busy thinking about what kind of delicious seafood you’re going to order; how soon you’ll be able to hop into one of our hammocks; or where you’ll be able to find piña colada ingredients and a good bottle of wine.
With all of the great things to do here during your vacation, it’s easy for a “garden tour” to fall by the wayside. However, whether you’re looking to do as much, or as little, as possible during your vacation, I highly recommend giving my tour a try. In over a year, I can honestly say I have had no one indicate to me through words or body language that they regretted taking the time to join me for a tour. I can, however, recall several times in which I have had guests tell me that my tour was the highlight of their vacation activities. Even if it doesn’t end up being THE highlight for you, I’m sure it will end up being something you won’t soon forget.
I want to clarify something when it comes to the “garden tour” here at Kona Kai - it is not a “garden tour.” You’re probably thinking AutoCorrect must have accidentally replaced “confuse” with “clarify” in the previous sentence, but allow me to explain. Yes, the tour does take place in a botanic garden, but the tour involves much more than what most people think of when they hear “garden tour” (i.e. me taking you down all the paths and telling you the names of our plants). While I will certainly mention the names of the plants we talk about, my tour experience involves much more.
My aim during this ethnobotanic tour is to enlighten you, in as entertaining and interactive a fashion as possible, about the crucial and indispensable roles plants have played and will continue to play in our survival and well-being, as well as open your eyes to the hidden wonders of plants to be found throughout our gardens. I guarantee you will learn more things than you’ll be able to remember and that these things will cause you to see plants and your relationship with them in a profound new way. If you’ve had a day or two to walk the grounds before taking the tour, you’ll walk it again and not only see the gardens, but experience them in a completely new and different way. What was once just a collection of passive, nameless green objects sometimes pretty to look at, becomes a space inhabited by living, breathing organisms that have names, stories to tell, fascinating complexity, beauty beyond the apparent and significant value to our daily lives.
So, I challenge you: give my tour a try. Come with an open mind and 90 minutes of your time set aside because, although I'm happy to give an abbreviated tour, I’ve toured enough visitors to know you’ll probably want to stay for the whole thing.