Orlando wasn’t originally on my list of places to visit, which means I didn’t have to field multiple instances of the question “Oh, are you going to Disney World?” (unlike Australia, which is on my list, for which I get asked “Are you going to see the opera house?”). Still, since I did go to Orlando and I didn’t go to any of the parks, I know that the next question on everyone’s mind is “Why not?
- Money. Tickets to these places are rather expensive. A Disney World ticket is about $100, and I definitely did not have the budget for that.
- I’m sure this is a surprise to absolutely no one, but I’m an introvert. Places full of people where the main form of fun is to go on rides that flood you with adrenaline are only my idea of a good time on rare occasions. Very rare.
What did I see instead, then?
Meet Travis, Poet and Overall Cool Dude
In 2014-2015, Travis was… interning? I think that’s the right word? at the church my parents go to. At the time, I was going to a Sunday morning worship service on campus at the U of A, so the first time I met Travis was when he came over to our house for supper one day.
He writes poetry (including spoken word poetry) and regularly posts cool, thoughtful stuff on Facebook. When he found out that I was planning to go to Florida, he invited me to come to Orlando. When I found out it was cheaper to fly to Orlando then bus to Miami than it was to bus from Dallas to Miami, I decided to take him up on the offer.
Botanical Gardens Are the Bomb, Yo
Instead of theme parks, what I really wanted to see were plants. The first day in Orlando, while waiting for Travis to get off work, I hung out with a couple of his friends. We went to the library at one point, and before we went in, we walked through the little garden next to it. Have you ever wondered what a coffee plant looks like?
Wonder no more.
I love seeing cool plants, so when Travis asked me what I wanted to see while in town, I was like “Are there any botanical gardens nearby?”
Turns out there are.
Hanging Out with the Swans at the Lake
This is the part where I admit I’ve completely forgotten the name of the lake we went to after the gardens. So let me distract you with pictures of swans:
Looking for Alligators as it Gets Dark (Because We’re Highly Intelligent and All)
I’ve never seen an alligator before, so Travis tried his best to get one to surface, both at the gardens and at the lake. Alas, no gators emerged, although we did see the air bubbles they made.
While waiting for them to hopefully show themselves, I noticed how loud the night is in Orlando. It’s quiet in Edmonton. Not perfectly silent, because the outdoors never is (trust me), but quiet. In Orlando, sunset comes with the throb of cicadas, the pulse of insects buzzing. It’s amazing.