“Head to Jerry’s and in aisle six you’ll find the repellent.”
The front desk clerk of the Holiday Inn Beach Resort, Sanibel Island, Fla., did precede this with, “Welcome” but followed the salutation with, “You’re from Florida, you know about no-see-ums.”
Um, yes, I live in Florida but didn’t think I needed to worry about biting insects once I left the Everglades almost a decade ago.
I checked in around 6:45 p.m. just as the sun was setting and the mosquitoes and no-see-ums (tiny beasts related the gnat and carry an itchy bite) were ready to feast. The hotel map showing where my room was located had a Sanibel Island map on the back and the front desk clerk wrote out directions to Jerry’s and gave me an FAQ sheet about mosquitoes and no-see-ums. (Bottom line, pest control is kept to a minimum for the environmental protection of Sanibel Island.)
Before heading to Jerry’s, a local grocery store, I unloaded the car and luckily found my Everglades repellent with 22% DEET which meant, no trip to Jerry’s (at least not that night). After a spray down it was off to the beach to do what every other tourist was doing: watching the sunset, engaging in the Sanibel Stoop (the act of gathering shells in a bent over position) and swatting bugs.
Dinner followed at the Mermaid Restaurant & Bar (Tel: 239/472-1242, 2055 Periwinkle Way; formerly the Mermaid’s Kitchen & Cake Factory) and driving in what seemed like congested traffic along Periwinkle Way, I questioned my choice of Sanibel Island for a quick getaway to decompress. My doubts diminished upon arriving at the Mermaid and being the solo diner, at least for the first half-hour or so. While I felt bad for the restaurant since empty seats anywhere isn’t a good thing, I reveled at being the only patron and the serenity.
From that point, I did my best to disconnect from the world – poor Internet service helped with that – and tried to decompress, which completely happen on the third and final day, but that’s for another time.