Hi everyone - here we are in a marina at Daytona Beach for a few days.
Daytona markets itself at 'the most famous beach in the world' - I don't know if that's true. There are other contenders, surely - Waikiki, Malibu, Venice Beach, the Riviera - even Bondi, perhaps. The Beach was actually the original Daytona racetrack. Its white sand is packed hard for a long straight stretch, a perfect site for high speed and spectacle. Now there's a huge racing complex of course, the setting for the Daytona 500 and other big international events. Cars are permitted on the beach, and there's a line-up of them all along the beachfront, some with sunbathers on the roof! We went for a bike ride along the beach - plenty of people 'swimming' though this looked like a bit of a challenge in the very shallow water.
Like a lot of other places, Daytona is showing the effects of prolonged economic downturn with lots of closed-down shops and businesses. The only places that really seem to be thriving are those familiar scavengers of misfortune - pawn shops, jail bonds and low end law firms. It's a sad thing, because the really distinctive quality of the American people is their spirit of enterprise and their optimism. People want to work and to build a future, but so much is stacked against them at the moment.
We did our usual orientation by going to the local museum/ art gallery, a really interesting collection which includes a terrific Cuban gallery of pictures and artefacts rescued and stored by Battista as the revolution began. There was also a wonderful exhibition of nature photography and another of the early artefacts of Coca Cola production, as Daytona was home to the original Roots bottling company.
We're on the live-aboard dock where the boats have been beautifully decorated and lit up for Christmas, and we've met some very friendly and generous fellow boaters to celebrate with. We did the Skype call home to talk to the kids and family at the traditional Hogan family lunch - wonderful to see everyone, but at the same time it does make us aware of just how far away you all are. We love you and miss you all. May 2012 be the year we catch up with every one of you at home, or somewhere in the world.