Key West is one of the most fragrant and inspiring places I know. It is so empowering and plays all my senses and emotions. Swaying palm trees, orchids, beautiful bougainvilles and situated on the most southern tip of the USA, only 90 miles from Cuba. The motto of this melting pot is “One Human Family”.
This is also where the story begins with me and Keenak. I had already spent a few seasons in Key West and was getting to know the locals. Only a few yards away, this eccentric character was passing by, just outside my favorite coffee shop in Bahamas Village. Guitar on his back, snake skin boots, skinny jeans, black silk shirt open – all the way down to his belly button. Add to that: layers of necklaces, bracelets and headband under his trademark – a black feathered hat. Who was this man? Was he an old hippie, a survivor from Woodstock? Or maybe a rockstar?
I was captivated and knew I just had to meet him again. I started to ask around the town for clues. They told me he was a busker living on a boat. Others said he was a talented musician with a special liking for booze and psychedelic substances, sleeping rough under a bridge. One day, I bumped into him yet again. I had been getting groceries at Faustos with my three year old daughter when I spotted him sitting on the pavement, casually playing his guitar. There he was, this mysterious man from a different time and place. We hit it off right away and Keenak invited me to come by his place for a fluid lunch (or perhaps a few uppers if I so prefered) the following day.
His trailer park was in the shady bad lands of Stock Island, a tiny parcel of land just across Cow Key Channel. We talked about life, music and litterature. My European heritage and his life as a roving artist. I was intrigued by the quirky scent that embraced his home. I recognized patchouli, tobacco and woody scents mixed with vanilla and leather. When I mentioned this he told me about a special patchouli oil he had been using since he was a young man in “Nam”. The ladies loved it so why break a winning concept he said and laughed. Then he leaned over towards me and whispered “But man, if you really want to know my real secret spice, it is the weed. The best one is Purple Haze, but it´s fucking hard to find these days”.