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Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Shames of Boca Raton, FL

By Carola C. Reuben, Earthy Reporter

Just before The Trip around Earth, I escaped from a gated community in Boca Raton, Florida, U.S.A.

Outside the gates of that speck on the globe, neither trash nor delinquents were ever visible. The Mercedes Benzes would glide past landscapes of carefully arranged flowers and stretches of grass; every single blade was precisely trimmed.

In Boca, you are what you drive, and so, those Mercedes Benzes would be parked for the show at the outdoor shopping center in Boca, Mizner Park. It was a place to be seen with your designer handbag and your miniature dog, relaxed from its pedigree massage in a pet salon.

Watching people at Mizner, I could not doubt a statistic I never verified. Boca Raton allegedly has the highest per capita rate of breast augmentation operations. Mizner was one of the places for women past 50 or 60 to show off enormous breasts that squeeze out of the tops of low-cut blouses.

“Sun burned breast implants,” Martin Myers commented. “Double yuck. What could be colder than a lump of heated silicone.” Martin, a high school friend, is now an established artist living in The Adirondacks in NY. At the American school in Sao Paulo, Brazil ("Graded" ), he was the juvenile cynic. He was commenting on my recent e-mail description of Boca.

Martin also asked, “Did Dante visit Boca ?” He was referring to “Dante’s Inferno,” a description of a journey through a medieval concept of hell. Indeed, Dante would have encountered a unique blend of hell and heaven behind the guarded gates of Village Homes at Town Place, ruled by a homeowners’ association.

At Village Homes, we, the inmates/homeowners, once walked past the green density of ficus and palm trees and the violet and red of impatiens flowers to a poolside meeting. At the pool in front of a placid lake, the board for the homeowners’ association had called a meeting for a proposed $300,000 “emergency” assessment in spite of the economic crisis in the U.S. (April, 2008).

A couple of gaps in the garden at the front entrance, which I had not noticed before the meeting, were among the dire emergencies included in the assessment. In spite of homeowner/inmate protests, by the end of the year, $32,000 had turned into a front entrance decorated with piles of rocks, more trees, and more impatiens flowers.

At the meeting when we heard about funding the emergency projects, a board member said with a voice that sounded like it was choking with tears, “People drive by and they see it ( the gaps in the garden at the entrance ).”

Her voice trembled as she peered at us from the top of her glasses. “We are the shame of Boca.“
2010, copyright, Carola C. Reuben, Earthy Reporter


  1. The freedom and education one encounters traveling is priceless. It will be a breath of fresh air to see real people doing real things.
    Pam Shafer
    Atlanta, GA

  2. Hi Carole, Great description of that rarefied community! I, too, have had my run-ins with homeowners associations and discovered to my surprise, that they are one of the most powerful legal entities in the US! Their laws are above the constitution, so when they decide to raise fees to pay for their shameful impatience gap, you have to pay! You summed up the scene there beautifully!
    Jim Griffin

  3. Your escape from a gated community, and indeed your escape from the constraints of living according to the normal structures of society, is definitely exciting!!! I am very excited to follow your upcoming adventures from my little hobbit hole here in Boca. At least I am not gated in... but I do get tired of feeling struck and trying to earn enough money to travel. You have a wonderful opportunity to go and be free, and you created that opportunity for yourself.
    Yours truly, anxiously awaiting new posts,

  4. Florida ofers many beautiful things that one can only enjoy in Florida. The beaches and natural beauty are incredicble and availble to see whenever you want. There is a price to live in paradise. And the homeowners associations exact that price from us. These HOA are fustrating, making us reach a point that you want to leave paradise.

  5. Carol, the earth is God's country and i am so grateful to you for inviting me to share a piece of it with you. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me......How wonderful to come visit you in Malaysia........i never could have invisioned this when we were only teenie boppers in high school........... :)

  6. Carola,I very much enjoyed reading your blog - including the comments about BR. Although I live in the same TPVH community as you did, I've never really been part of the whole Boca scene. And, in spite of the gestapo-like politics of the HOA, I love it here - for now. I've travelled to Spain, Thailand, Canada, Mexico and several Bahamas Islands and those travels were a great experience for a little gal from Pittsburgh. However, no matter where I went, it was always great to get back to the good old U.S.A. - even with all her problems. Still, I envy you your courage to really get out there..... Good Luck and keep the stories coming.