by Ruth, a.k.a. Momma Frizzle
Explorers, developers, and marketers have been selling my home state of Florida for several centuries now. They’ve depended on healthy doses of poetry, invention, myth, exaggeration, and lies.
Consider what’s been accomplished – a mosquito-infested swampland full of prehistoric creatures and motley locals has been turned into a desirable destination. How? Simple – leave most of that stuff out or romanticize it! Focus instead on aquamarine waters, lovely vegetation, and mild winters. I wonder how many pioneers and tourists have been alarmed by the realities of Florida not mentioned in the glossy brochure.
Florida is not a one-note vacation destination or homeland. It is both beautiful and maddening. Restful and dangerous. Therefore, I would be remiss in my reporting about our Cayo Costa camping trip if I only told you about…
But failed to mention the no-see-ums that haunt these times of day. Even in cooler months, the stinging pests will drive you to insanity, obliterating any joy, if not held at bay by full-body coverings and 100% DEET spray. Even then they will bite and harass you until itchy red blisters appear on your skin and cause you to wake up to scratch madly. Not that you were sleeping much anyway, between torrential downpours, rutting wild hogs, and heavy cabin humidity.
But there is…
which will make you forget such inconsequential things as electricity, hot water, or air conditioning. Because forget you do if you have any sort of spunk. And come to enjoy the privations and think of yourself as stronger for having survived them. Perhaps this is why Florida has always drawn poetic adventurers, daring dreamers, and insightful innovators, who used what they found (or didn’t find) here to give the world such necessities as mythic Fountains of Youth, great works of literature, and magical air conditioning.
Truth in reporting is important. But when telling stories about Florida, I find it to be a “both/and” philosophical proposition, rather than a simple “either/or” dichotomy.