So Florida is the state where the rest of the nation goes to visit, or retire, depending on how long their stay is. But where do us natives go to get away? The secret is that the best beaches are really on the opposite side of the state from where most tourists would think. Even though I live on the East Coast, I have always been partial to the Gulf Coast Beaches. It’s like a Florida vacations for Floridians themselves. It’s a way to escape, with calmer beaches, softer sand, and less tourists.
For our family, going to the West Coast of Florida is an annual pilgrimage to soak up the sun, collect shells , and to relax completely. On the way there though, you can experience all different aspects of the Floridian landscape on a fabulous 3 hour road trip around Lake Okeechobee. The middle of the state surprisingly resembles the middle of America with cows scattering the landscape for miles, large sugar cane fields, and unending country roads. Without the occasional orange grove, random palm trees, and view of the shrinking Everglades, for most, this side of Florida is unrecognizable. For me, I only see it passing by, but it is a way to really understand what the state really is and a way to see everything that Florida is.
We stay at the same resort every single year, known as Palm Island. For me it is a place that is embedded into my childhood. I have so many memories of playing on the beach, building sandcastles, and riding golf carts on mini-adventures, pretending to be explorers with my sister and cousins. Now it is a place to completely unwind, to read good books on the beach, to laugh and catch up with those same cousins. We’ll make dinner together and play very competitive games of pictionary together and finish 5000 piece puzzles together.
The only bad thing about a Cuban family vacationing on the West Coast is the combination of our already stereotypical tardiness with the concept of ‘island time’. Nothing is ever done when we say it will be. We will be on time for absolutely nothing. The good thing is that we aren’t on a schedule (Thank God). That’s the great thing about taking a break, you get to abide by only your own time table. You are able to create your own agenda for the day and really take your time with everything, and really enjoy everything. It helps us to learn how to slow down and how to be grateful for all the little moments we get to experience.
Now with a refreshing break from the normal routine and a great tan I’m more than ready to go back to Hopkins for Sophomore year, and appreciate every single moment of it.