Monday, July 25, 2005 July

Ok, so as promised, here's the account of our trip to the Everglades.

So Everglades is huge, some one and a half million acres. Most of it is a total wilderness - no roads, no trails, no human presence. There's a 37-mile long two-lane road that goes through the park, from Homestead to Flamingo. Along it there are several stops, some more entertaining than others, that serve as getaways for hikers, kayakers, and even casual walkers. The guidebooks are quick to point out that Everglades are teaming with exotic wildlife, such as panthers, alligators, and rare birds. Of course, most of these animals are hard to spot (we only saw 2 alligators there). The one animal that makes itself known and presents itself in abundance is a mosquito. Somehow the brochures fail to mention the extent of mosquitoes' presence in the park. And naive tourists like us tend to trust the brochures...

Here's what one of the guidebooks says about a short trail accessible from the Royal Palm stop: "The Gumbo Limbo Trail, a 1/2-mile jaunt through a tropical hammock, begins near the end of the parking lot". Nowhere does it say that billions of mosquitoes that inhabit every cubic inch of space on this trail will mount an attack on you body. And the only ones who are bothered by the stench of the industrial strength insect repellent is you and your buddy. Oh, wait, no it's just you 'cause your buddy ran off at a fast clip, his mosquito-covered t-shirt disappearing in the dense hammock, arms flying wildly around his head in a vain attempt to scare the bugs away. The park brochure has the following to say about this experience: "DO NOT FEED WILDLIFE".

Anyway, we survived this experience and drove on to a famed Pa-hay-okee Overlook. No mosquitoes there, but no overlook either - it was closed for repairs. We decided to skip the rest of the stops and to drive straight to Flamingo. At first it was great - beautiful view of the Florida Bay, cute little cottages, small boats bobbing on the water. And then we got out of the car... Ok, here's me trying to hide from mosquitoes under a palm throng.

The moral of the story is Everglades sucks in summer.