It seems that everyone living here in the northeastern US, flocks to Disney World and Florida any chance they can get. Most likely they do it in other parts of the country and world too since I know the tourists are from all over, but all I personally know about is here.
The television commercials show empty and pristine beaches with SUN (that’s a big thing when you live someplace where the sun barely comes up above the tree line for months). I don’t recognize the Florida I know when I watch these commercials. Did they pay people to get off the beach while they were filming?
All winter these New Englanders talk about Florida like it’s some great, heavenly, paradise where there is real (as opposed to tanning booth) and constant sunshine. Well the sunshine part is true. And if you have lots of money and spend a week or two vacationing at Mickey’s home, I suppose the paradise part is true as well. Lounging by the pool and eating food you don’t have to make yourself sounds pretty good, even if it does cost $11 for a burger.
But then there are the lines, and screaming kids, and more lines, tropical heat, more lines, sweating people, standing and waiting, walking and walking, did I mention the heat? and sunburns?…sorry.
For those of us who live there or have lived there, well, we know differently. Unless you have lots of money and live on the ocean or intracoastal, it’s just life as usual except in the heat with huge bugs and deadly snakes. You work (for very little money) and struggle to make ends meet. You do yard work in the blazing sun trying not to get skin cancer in a land where the sun finds you no matter where you go. Sweating is just a part of life, like breathing.
Relatives constantly use your home as their way to save money while vacationing, and since the weather is fairly nice year round tourists are always everywhere so stores are always crowded and so are the roads.
If you are a teacher, you know that during the course of the school year kids will come and go in your classroom as often as the wind changes direction and your classes could be held anywhere from a closet to a teacher’s lounge or most likely a “portable” because of overcrowding. You won’t have aides or assistants because there is no money for them, but you will be expected to teach kids who have come from all over the country and have all kinds of backgrounds. If you are a high school teacher you will have to know how to handle firearms. (Just kidding- barely).
We know about the hurricanes that form off the coast of Africa and watch them grow each day wondering where they will actually hit. We know that the summer rain pours down in buckets and usually has hail and tornado watches if not warnings. And the lightening is deadly and the thunder is deafening. The roads flood and the highways get backed up because of accidents.
Florida is a beautiful place to visit, but I think you’d change your mind about the paradise part if you lived there. I did have my favorite places to go and things to do, like the Springs and fishing and boating. More about that later.
(Pam lived in Central Florida for 27 years.)