Saturday, February 17, 2007

Cortez Heritage

OK, as promised, here're a bunch of pictures from my day at the Cortez Heritage Festival. I've deliberately not shared any pictures of the horrible crowds with you, since I don't think you want to see those. Actually, whenever there were crowds, I just didn't take pictures, it was much easier that way. Cortez is a small fishing village on the landside of the bridge heading out to Bradenton Beach. It's been there since the late 1800's, but was nearly destroyed recently, not by the weather, but by government. In order to protect dwindling supplies of seafood from overfishing, the Florida Legislature outlawed fishing with certain types of nets. Within three weeks, four of the five fishhouses in Cortez had closed their doors. The community today survives on the few types of commercial fishing that are still allowed, and tourism. This once a year festival celebrates both. Hopefully the photos I'm sharing here demonstrate the quaint and quirky nature of the area.
Everything in Cortez has to be decorated with a nautical theme. Everything. You're not anything if you don't have a boat in your yard. Well, that's not entirely true. That's actually an antique shop in the picture above. But trust me, some of the houses are every bit as decorated.
Way back in 1912, this was the school. It's now being rebuilt to use as a museum. I thought it was supposed to be done by now, but it didn't seem done. They are probably rebuilding it on Cortez-time, which means whenever they don't have anything else to do, like fish.
One of the highlights of my visit was a chance to get a short boat ride and see Cortez from the water. For only $5, you got a 15 minute trip with Captain Kathe (There was no First Mate Pup-Pup when I was on board though...), a fourth generation resident of Cortez. She seemed to know everyone and everything about the village, which only makes sense, as she was born and raised here. I was the only other person on the boat from the great state of Florida, but I was just a lowly landlubber.
I enjoyed the boat trip so much, I went back out for a second trip. This time, some of Captain Kathe's family were on the boat, so we went in a different direction, and got a slightly longer ride. Because I asked nicely, she made a quick loop around this local landmark for me. Back in the day, there were dozens and dozens of these little stilt houses in the area, which the fishermen used for different things, including drying and storing their nets in the days before rot-resistant plastic. I'd seen this little shack for years from the mainland, but it was nice to be able to finally see and shoot it from the water.
Walking around the village, there are lots of things to see. The big gate and sign above advertise a surfer's house. I don't know where they surf around here, though. Three foot swells are considered big, so it's not quite North Shore stuff...
Ha-ha. Coconuts. That's not even a coconut palm.
Just another bright green house for you. Is that enough pictures for today? I think I took less than 700 during the day, so it wasn't like I was all that busy. If I weren't so lazy, I'd go back tomorrow...

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