There is nothing about this little island that I don’t love.
Besides the usual (weather, food, people) Key West feels like home, more so than any other place in this world. Just walking through the streets, seeing the beautiful homes, trees, flowers is like walking through paradise. And the colors – oh my goodness, all the colors! I have never seen water this particular shade of turquoise before (or since). You will fall in love with the colors.
And then you learn about the history of the Conch Republic and that’s just charming and you fall in love a little bit more.
The Conch Republic
In April 1982 the US Boarder Patrol established a road block on the only land road to and from Key West to search vehicles for narcotics or and illegal immigrants, thus posing a serious hindrance to residents and tourists. The Key West City Council’s complaints went unanswered, so as a form of protest on April 23 1982 the mayor and Council declared Key West’s independence and proclaimed the Conch Republic with the mayor as its first Prime Minister. His first order of business was to declare war against the United States. The Conch Republic quickly surrendered (after one minute) and applied for $1,000,000,000 in foreign aid and reparations.
This secession not only generated great publicity for the Keys, but was also successful in its original plight: the roadblocks were removed.
To this day, the local citizens refer to themselves as Conchs and Key West still celebrates Independence Day every April 23. The Conch Republic also actively maintains military forces and sometimes has to fight off invasions which usually involves hitting people with stale Cuban bread.
None of this is a joke!
According to its Secretary General Peter Anderson,
The Conch Republic has as its stated Foreign Policy, “The Mitigation of World Tension through the Exercise of Humor”. As the world’s first “Fifth World” country, we exist as a “State of Mind”, and aspire only to bring more Warmth, Humor and Respect to a planet we find in sore need of all three.
And that, basically, is what Key West is and why you’ll keep coming back.