My memories of my one visit to Florida in 1998 weren’t warming me up (ha) for my recent trip. The weather was like an electric blanket I couldn’t get away from. One of my host’s friends was attacked by fire ants while she stood talking in the street. The area seemed like one car ride after another to Walmart and other chain stores. I couldn’t see the appeal.
Mr. V’s family lives on the opposite side of the state, on the Atlantic coast. Beaches, suburbia, and hot weather don’t do much for me. But I was pleasantly surprised by finding a lot of local character still preserved (as well as a good amount of Obama bumper stickers, to balance the local Republican flavor) and allowed myself to watch rustling palm trees, wiggle my toes in the sand, and chill (in the heat). South of Indiatlantic, the condos petered out, leaving a rather rural road with quiet beaches.
I didn’t get a photograph of the Cuban meal my mother-in-law and sister-in-law prepared for our visit: marinated steaks, black beans and rice, malanga fritters (a root vegetable shredded, mixed with egg and salt and fried) and a huge, dense flan (food that makes Mr. V very happy). I noticed that many houses had these huge steel constructs over their backyards that made them look like prison compounds – however – they were incredible to sit within: no bugs, no leaves in the pool, and no gators. I suggested to Mr. V that we might consider a career change.