At The Start

This is the story of a brave band of hunters, of paradise lost, and of photo finishes. The band: Knox, Ozzie, Ralph and Chris, Bill and Carol, and Yamin. The mission: win the Tropic Hunt!


The Tropic Hunt (for those of you unlucky enough to have never participated) is organized by the Miami Herald’s Tropic Magazine. It’s changed form over the years, and this year it was centered in downtown Miami, within the beltway of the PeopleMover. Armed each with a Miami Herald, the intrepid group set out in the morning. There were 20,000 people there, each seeking the prize, which was a trip to paradise. Paradise was the winner’s choice of one of six exotic locations in the world.


The Tropic Magazine had a humorous map of downtown Miami with a coordinate system superimposed. The coordinates were like Bingo, letters and numbers. The Tropic had six simple questions, which had obvious answers. "How many animals are in this picture?" So you ended up with 6 numbers. There were also about 150 clues, which were mostly quixotic and meaningless. Example: "Badgers?!  We don't need no stinking badgers!"  . Each clue had a number beside it. There were additional charts scattered through the magazine: the Morse code, smoke signals, sign language, naval signals, etc.


The rules were simple, solve the six stationary puzzles and the seventh moving puzzle. Each puzzle gave you a number as a result. Each puzzle could be identified by the sign of the Tropic Hunt.


At noon, we were ready for the radio announcement. In previous years poems were broadcast that had to be solved. We had notebooks, pencils, tape recorders, etc. They broadcast six letters! Put the letters with the numbers and there were six locations to go to. The Hunt was on!