Scotts, Greeks, and a thief…
Tarpon Springs and Dunedin may be in the Florida panhandle, but these towns gave an instant vibe of traveling overseas. Dunedin is an upscale Scottish town with a booming nightlife. Main street offers tons of bars and restaurants to hangout at and at the end of the strip is a boat dock overlooking an ever expanding ocean. It is nicknamed ‘Honeymoon Village’.
Tarpon Springs had a much more laid back style. The outskirts of town are lined with small parks and beaches. The town itself was saturated with small shops selling eco-friendly products and sponges collected at the docks. Here I learned that there is a seriously wide variety of sponges to be found in the ocean. While I’m usually against plucking nature out of its home, it turns out its actually helping the sponge communities to thrive by skimming out the population.
I had been searching in Dunedin for a gift to send back home to my brother when I came across a small table set up on the sidewalk out front of a bar on Main Street. The table was filled with hand painted guitar picks that had been recycled into jewelry. I learned from the three ladies chatting behind the table that this was their first night trying to sell their product, and they had not had much luck. They were good sports about it, drinking down wine and laughing about how they are going to have to bite the bullet and admit to their husbands that their idea failed. As my brother plays guitar I saw this as the perfect opportunity to lift their spirits with a purchase. The ladies were so excited to have made their first sale that they asked a passerby to take a picture of them with me and excitably gave me drunken hugs. Five dollars well spent.
Tarpon Springs offered a different kind of excitement. With permission from a store manager at a local Cracker Barrel I settled down for the night in the alleyway out back. I laid down the back seat to a bed, changed into some comfy clothes, and got dinner started. Looking out the windows here and there to see what the ruckus was about I began to get an odd feeling about where I was staying, it seemed a lot of drunk people stumbled through this alley. Exhausted, I decided to stick it out until morning. Luckily I wasn’t tired enough to sleep through someone tinkering with the handle on the passenger door. I pulled up my hood (hoping to make it harder to discern it was a young girl traveling alone) and kicked the door frame before ripping down the privacy screen to see who was lurking. I must have startled the intruder as I heard a clambering of what sounded like tools. By the time the privacy screen was dropped and I reached the handle to open the door, the lady was already disappearing around the corner. I decided to take shelter at a laundry mat until sunrise when I could get into a forest to make breakfast and take a catnap. This was a lesson well learned in trusting your gut feeling and getting out of possibly unsafe situations as quickly as possible!