Who doesn’t fantasize about ditching everything and fleeing to a tropical island? Sure, it’s a cliché. But it only became a cliché because it has such widespread appeal, right?
I was recently fortunate to visit relatives in Southwest Florida. Even better, I had an unusual opportunity to stay for longer than usual. Now, shopping is not my preferred vacation pastime. No, I much prefer walking and sight-seeing and sitting in the sun and sipping the occasional tropical drink. (Not all at the same time. And not necessarily in that order).
But one does need to shop, a bit, when one vacations in a different climate. First, there are the inevitable packing mistakes to be rectified. Then it’s time to seek out essential items not needed at home — heavier sunscreen and, perhaps, a sun hat. Finally, when one becomes a bit sun-baked and needs a break, it’s time to look for unique shopping opportunities not found at home. If this shopping can occur in a picturesque location, all the better.
It was in this spirit that Mr. Frump and I headed off to Matlacha (pronounced “Matlashay.”) It’s a small island in the Gulf of Mexico, near Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Pine Island (not too far from the better-known islands of Sanibel and Captiva). You can read more about it here.
There’s not a whole lot to Matlacha, but that’s part of the fun. At first, it appears to be nothing but a long line of cars moving slowly over a narrow bridge, holding you up on your way to Pine Island. But then you start to notice that both sides of the road are lined with colorful shops and galleries:
And if you peek between those buildings, you’ll glimpse amazing water views, on both sides of the road. It’s like a secret, or a surprise that you’ll miss if you don’t slow down and pay attention.
Like the nearby Pine Island, Matlacha has a reputation for appealing to artists and creative types. But as an old fishing village, it still has spots that are cheerfully ramshackle. You can have lunch on an old wooden deck, with a great view and a beer, sitting alongside tourists, locals, kayakers, fisherpeople, and even a few ladies who lunch.
In short, it’s the kind of place I like a lot. An essential stop in Matlacha is always the Lovegrove Gallery, which showcases a backyard gallery/garden that must be seen to be believed. (You’ll have to take my word for it because photos are not permitted). It’s filled with original art work and also has a great water view. From their back deck, I could see my perfect fantasy dwellings — tiny canal-side shacks that appear to be nothing but deck, patio chairs, tropical plantings and views. Because, really, what more do you need?
Inside the gallery, I purchased this belt:
which I pretty much fell in love with at first sight. I bought it even though you have to tie it, which will certainly challenge my lack of manual dexterity.
But I managed to put it on, right then and there, with no mirror. And I wore it the rest of the day. I felt sunny, tropical, colorful, Key-West-y, and very visible.
I think it’s a keeper! And the hat probably is, too, since I got about five compliments on it that day.
So now, my only hope is this: I hope that the warm glow of my new purchases will sustain me through the rest of the winter. If it doesn’t, I’ll just have to console myself by wearing my favorite cute snow boots. I wonder if they go with the hat?
Don’t forget to visit Not Dead Yet Style, to see what all the over-40 style bloggers are wearing for Visible Monday!