FLORIDA - A Retrospective (P01)
Well, my favourite location to spend a holiday is clearly at the beach, though I am aswell interested in exploring the local culture and countryside. So, lying in the sun for 7 days or more is just to little exciting for me and exactly two years ago it happened that I went on my first trip to the USA. To be more precise to Fort Myers, Florida. I hadn't started blogging yet, so I will now catch up on this by devoting the next few postings to this matter and presenting some photos to you.
(Note: If you are planning a trip to Florida, please take the Hurricane-season into account)
Once upon a time a travelling group of six young adults got onto a plan on a cold and grey day in February and reached their destination just after 11 hours in that tin of Sardines. More irritating than the jetlag was the questioning done by the state officers in the arrival area. It’s quite similar to the situation in a job interview or even at a police department, because you are fingerprinted and the local authorities have the power to put you on a flight back home without any justification needed. Though once this obstacle has been mastered and you behave well during your stay everything else is a piece of cake.
After the six friends had been allowed to enter the country, they picked up their reserved rentals (cars) and drove through Fort Myers to their booked residence in a part of Cape Coral. It is a kind of suburb where many houses are not permanently occupied by their owners. They are just vacation homes and most of the time are let to tourists via an agency which takes care about everything connected with the house. This location is furthermore rather special because there is a water channel system which leads you out onto the sea and so almost every house has its own landing stage for its owner’s motorboat.
If you visit Florida or actually the USA in general, you mustn’t be afraid of animals and insects, because you might have to share your home with them. Nearly everyday we encountered at least one exponent of a specific prehistoric species: a cockroach. For the purpose of pest control somebody had obviously placed lines of a brown paste in the corners of the wall, and most cockroaches were dead when we saw them. Other cohabitants were more after our fancy like the small lizards in the pool area and the fishes living under the landing stage.
Of course, there didn’t happen quite much more on that day of arrival. As self-supporter we had to go to the supermarket about 7 miles away for some water and other supplies (yes, you really need a car in most regions of the US). Though this was actually exciting enough. The supermarkets like Walmart or Publix have huge parking lots, are gigantic themselves and contain countless variations of one and the same product. I mean, who needs fifty different types of cookies to choose from?
The very next day we longed for the beach and our tourist guide books recommended a visit to Sanibel Island and Captiva, two islands offshore Florida’s west coast. One gets there by a four kilometres long, bridge-like road similar to the famous Route 1 which connects the Florida Keys in the south. I’ll report on this later.
Surrounded by so many palms and colourful houses one feels like driving along a Caribbean or tropical island. After getting used to the scene, you can enjoy it, which means when you have stopped thinking: “This is a scenery in some movie, right?” all the time.
Finally, we’re at the beach...
It’s said that experts have detected 400 different kinds of sea shells here. Unfortunately they build a quite painful barrier to overcome if one wants to go swimming in the light blue waves. Though after 3 days at the latest one should have grown enough hard skin to pass them barefooted without feeling the shell’s prickly edges.
Apart from that this beach is a lovely place and there are some activities available.
If you get hungry, you can have a meal in a cosy restaurant which is located 100 metres off the beach (off-season) near the parking lots. New to us was the fact, that you do not simply enter a restaurant and choose a seat by yourself in the US. You are greeted at the entrance and seated by a service assistant who is often not the same person as the waiter who takes your order. The obligatory tip covers 15-20 % of the invoice total on your receipt. Sometimes the exact sum is enlisted separately.
Before we went back home for that day, we stopped at the J. N. Darling National Wildlife Refuge which is the island’s green belt (Sanibel). It’s a nature protection area consisting of mangrove woods and is home to many bird species. There is a museum for information and a drive thru area to observe the wildlife. If your lucky and they are not hiding themselves you can even see alligators.
To be continued
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