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From Joplin, Mo. to Key West, FloridaPosted Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at 1:05 PM
This young man from Joplin, Mo. was one of several pedicab operators in Key West when we were there in January. For a fee, the pedicabs transport tourists around the narrow downtown streets between attractions such as the Hemingway House and Truman's Little White House.
Two Missourians seeking the sunshine on the farthest tip of Florida never expected to see a fellow Missourian, pedaling a pedicab through the distant streets of Key West.
Just as my feet were giving out on a 6-block walk to the home of one my favorite authors--Ernest Hemingway--who should stop at the corner but Sam Last-name-unknown, who turned out to be from Joplin, Missouri?
Difficult as it was to believe, Sam informed us that he was working his way to Brazil, via sailboat! He had been in Key West since August of 2011. Even more difficult to believe, this young man holds a master's degree from Missouri State University. I forgot to ask what his major course of study was.
"I know I won't get rich doing this, but I'll sure have a lot of stories to tell!" Sam said, as he puffed away down the narrow streets, with us sitting comfortably behind him in the seat. "I'm also in the best shape I've ever been!"
Pedicab drivers are given strict instructions.
"We're not allowed to solicit passengers," Sam explained."We also have to give way to traffic."
When we left Sam, we took down cell phone numbers, so we could call him for a ride again after lunch.
Funny how some strangers stick in your heart. Perhaps it's because Joplin residents lived through one of the most devastating tornadoes ever to hit the United States. Folks from Joplin are scattered throughout the country, but I doubt that many have traveled as far as the young pedicab driver we met in Key West.
Good luck, Sam, wherever your travels lead you!
From the non-tropical streets of Advance, Missouri, deep in the heart of America, this is your traveling reporter, Madeline, wishing she were ON THE ROAD AGAIN!!
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at email@example.com.