Almost without fail, the best experiences while traveling are the ones that are unplanned. You can plan to see the main sights and attractions, plan to eat at the trendy restaurant, plan to go to that famous museum, but often what you just stumble across ends up being far more memorable.
And so it was in Key West. While wandering down Elizabeth Street on our way to the famed Shipwreck Museum, we noticed an intriguing sign in the front yard of a white house…
Whaa..Magnificent Macaws? Key West is a strange place in general, but this seemed strange even beyond island standards. We had no idea what Magnificent Macaws entailed but were determined to find out. Obviously.
Around the back of the house, through an old wooden door, we (somewhat nervously) entered Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden.
If that sounds weird it’s because it is. You literally walk into this lady’s backyard and are confronted with a jungle of vegetation and bird cages. Bird cages everywhere!
And there was no one else there, just us. And dozens of birds. In a strange backyard. In Key West. What could possibly go wrong?
A few minutes later, Nancy emerged from someplace deep in the house (the inside of which, by the way, had bird perches dangling from the ceiling and looked slightly like the set of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre – really) with a macaw on each arm.
Nancy herself, as it turned out, was the most unimposing and kind lady. And she clearly had a deep love for her birds – all of which she rescued.
She owns one of each of the seven species of South American macaws that still exist in the wild. She’s an artist, an orchid expert and a wedding officiant. Yup. Lady of many talents.
Nancy showed us around, introduced us to all the birds and gave us an education in all things Macaw. To say she’s passionate is a gross understatement; she lives for her birds.
We even got to hold and feed a few of the macaws! And man are they heavy! Well, okay not really, they only weigh about 3 pounds, but on your arm, they feel super heavy!
Each bird has a name card that tells of their quirks, likes, agitations and talents. One of the birds can laugh like a human! Seriously. It’s unnerving. I was not a fan.
We spent almost an hour and half with Nancy and her birds and the experience ended up being a highlight a trip! And no amount of planning could have made it possible.
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