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Dear Travelers to Florida: Please Don't Come Until You’ve Understood These Things

by Savannah Steiger Aug 12, 2016

1. Should go without saying, that it’s HOT.

If you’re traveling to FL and hate humidity, don’t book your flight. You might be okay in Northern FL on the Georgia or Alabama border in January and February but anywhere else you’re going to experience the hot and humid weather. Even in winter, we get hot or humid days. If you’re visiting FL we locals have NO pity on you when it’s hot and humid. NONE. After all, we live here year round and suffer through the heat and humidity. In fact, in August it’s hard to find us because we’re either on the water, in the water, or hidden in a beautifully air conditioned building.

2. We love guns.

Deal with it.

3. There’s no one accent.

Everyone here “talks” differently. Some accents are thick and fast, others are a slow elegant drawl. There are the many Hispanic accents. There are rich Caribbean communities. And some Floridians don’t even speak English (native tongue or otherwise). Just like each area in FL if culturally different, ecologically different, its accents are too.

4. There are diverse ecosystems here that should be protected and respected.

We aren’t all swamp or beach. Florida has all kinds of terrain, from pine flatwoods and prairie to mangroves. Unfortunately, our once flourishing wildlife is struggling. The panhandle has a huge bear problem from trash being dumped. The Everglades are clinging to life because of urbanization. A toddler recently was taken by an alligator at Disney World because Disney is built ON A SWAMP.

5. Florida Man is not a celebrity.

On a weekly basis, there is a news story about “Florida Man” and his most recent misadventures. Typically this is a local guy doing something silly and getting caught on camera. We may like to joke about Florida Man and share his exploits on social media but don’t judge us all by our local “hero”.

6. Florida is HUGE.

Looking at Florida on a map it doesn’t seem like a huge state but it is. It is 1,350 miles long. If you are planning you’re going to do a day trip from Pensacola to the Keys, good luck. Have fun driving 12 straight hours. Enjoy the traffic and billboards when you hit central Florida, it only gets worse the further south you go. If you decide it might be fun to experience both of Florida’s coastlines in a weekend, hopefully, you’re down south so it only takes around 2­ or 3 hours to drive across the state to see both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

7. Florida is wild.

Florida is home to 1.5 million alligators and crocodiles that will live in nearly any body of water available to them. This includes your pool. Our state is also home to black bears, panthers, wild boar, rhesus monkeys and those are just some of the mammals. Florida has 6 species of venomous snakes and 44 nonvenomous but still scary snakes. As for insects, it’s got fire ants, wasps, yellow flies, dog flies and many more to list. Should I even mention sharks, jelly fish, sting rays etc? What about pythons? Not going there. Since Florida is SO POPULATED the wild animals are now moving in “our” territory. There is no way to completely avoid these animals (except the red wolves which are bred in captivity on St. Vincent Island in the panhandle) so the best way to arm yourself against them is to understand them. If you’re visiting FL you need to be aware that this the natural home and territory of these creatures so you should check with local wildlife officials on how to deal with, respect and treat them.You should also know that animal attacks are fairly uncommon in fact most people live their entire lives in Florida and never even see an alligator or Python.

8. College ball is a way of life for locals.

Whether they’ve attended the universities or not, college ball matters. Whether they understand football or couldn’t give a fig about it locals know just how important the games are. Especially the UF VS FSU one. If you’re in a local bar and insult one of the local teams, “thems is fighting words” and locals are not responsible for their actions. Supposedly it’s not good to take sides, but in FL you kind of have too. It brings us together, gives us a reason to party and something that everyone can discuss.

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