No, this is not the title of a new western flick starring Clint Eastwood or Johnny Depp, sorry.
What better way to remember a trip and keep the experience alive than through souvenirs? Forget shirts, mugs, or keychains! The Florida Keys are filled with unique mementos you can take home to enjoy.
The Cuban Connection
Why are Cuban cigars so special? The tradition follows a detailed cigar creation ritual that has not changed for hundreds of years.
They are made from pure, high-quality tobacco and it takes over a hundred steps to properly produce a single perfect Cuban cigar! However, they are not easy to obtain and there are a lot of imitations and fakes that try to pass as genuine articles.
Enter the tobaccos from the Florida Keys...
In 1831, a businessman named William Hall opened and operated a small factory with 50 employees in Key West. Most of the workers were Cuban migrants skilled in cigar making.
Several other companies followed suit and by 1890, Key West's 200 tobacco factories were producing approximately 100 million hand-rolled Cuban cigars annually!
In time, Key West was the largest cigar manufacturer in the country, carrying on the traditional Cuban way of producing cigars. Unfortunately, a fire burnt down most of the factories in 1886 because the only fire truck on the island was undergoing repairs!
Some businesses remained and rebuilt the industry while others relocated to more populous areas. The tradition remains local to the keys and each cigar is still produced in the old-fashioned manner.
So grab a few to take home, in memory of tradition.
Want to have comfortable sandals that could last you more than a decade? Well, I’m not even exaggerating.
Flip flops, beach walks, and Havaianas may be your go-to footwear, but wait till you hear about the Kino sandals only available specifically in Key West.
Fifty-seven years ago, years of saving and dedication helped Roberto “Kino” Lopez save at least $3,000 to migrate himself and his family from Cuba to the southernmost part of the United States – Key West, Florida.
Kino learned and perfected the old world tradition of making leather sandals which remained untarnished by today’s machinery and instant gratification.
Seventeen designs were carefully crafted by him and his few faithful “sandaleros” working at their traditional sandal factory. Authentic leather straps and insole were manually glued, sewn, and assembled on natural rubber soles.
@maggie_locke I literally travel 6 hours just to buy these sandals #keywest #keywestflorida #kinosandals #fyp #foryoupage #floridakeys #floridakeyslife #keywestfl ♬ misery 4 u - Nikjaay
The shop is not your average shoe store with sandals displayed on shelves. What’s so unique about it is that the stocks were even stored and placed inside beer boxes! That says a lot about simplicity and simple living!
They even allow you to watch the “sandaleros” create each masterpiece of high-quality footwear.
Generations of handmade sandals are known for their unmatched durability and quality for such an affordable price.
The family refused to open the enterprise to franchising and commercialization. In his heart, he may have wanted to keep the heritage, tradition, and quality intact. Since then, the business only remained in Key West.
However, some people from across the country and some parts of the world had been fortunate enough to know and experience the quality and legacy that of Kino sandals.
So if you happen to visit Key West, don’t forget to drop by at 107 Fitzpatrick St!
Dubbed as the painter of memories, Mario Sanchez has been acclaimed as the most important Cuban-American folk artist of the 20th century. His artwork captured the true essence of local living at Key West during his lifetime of 98 years.
He was deeply passionate about simple, everyday activities and captured the memories of his life in Key West in wood carvings, immortalizing each scene and preserving the memory in his work.
He was an artistic historian that painstakingly recorded the passage of time on carved wood not by merely depicting it, but actually giving it life.
Replicas and rolled up prints of his artworks can be bought in souvenir shops in Key West. Take part in the history and immortalize the memory.
You’re not merely getting a souvenir, you are partaking of a rich history that blends cultures together in Key West.