day 3: GARDEN OF EVILS

Automatic drive, broad routes and a ridiculous amount of lanes. Americans are very good at making your life much easier, even when it comes to drive.
After not longer than thirty minutes on the road, we left the congested Miami highways behind our shoulders to head west towards the vast wilderness of the Everglades. After discovering the pleasures of grits with salt and butter and falling in love for the first time with the delicious Key lime pie, armed with insect repellent and sun cream, we ventured into the National Park. We traveled South across an incredible multitude of ecosystems to reach Flamingo visitor centre. From sawgrass marshes, to pine docklands, mangrove forests and hardwood hammocks, the show was simply breathtaking and we were lucky enough to be the only spectators. And, of course, there was a reason why. September is off season in Florida because of hurricanes, unpredictable weather and lovely mosquitoes. The latter were the main problem that day. We soon found out that the insect repellant was of no use and we actually got devoured throughout the day, up to the point we stopped trying to kill them, even when, on our way back home, we could hear them buzzing in our car. Earlier that day, on a first moment of panic, we found ourselves running on the edge of a swamp, chased by a swarm of mosquitos, screaming, hitting each others and spraying the repellent on each others faces (our lips and eyes, of course, didn’t appreciate). There we realized that our plan of kayaking was suicidal and we opted for a boat tour which was actually good fun. Boat tours (http://www.evergladesnationalparkboattoursflamingo.com) are different from the infamous air boats because the former are quiet, guided by rangers, and inoffensive for the wild life. To our own surprise, wildlife is very easy to spot. Without any effort, we bumped into crocodiles, alligators (many), horny manatees (it was the love season apparently), turtles and birds of every sort. Soon I started worrying about accidentally stepping on a burmese python, which, as I read on our Lonely Planet guide, have become a calamity of the Everglades after some morons decided to release their overgrown pets in the swamps where they found a perfect habitat (pretty much the Everglades response to Australia’s rabbits).
The highlight of the day was reached at the Anhinga Trail where we enjoyed one of the most beautiful sunsets while walking on boardwalks over a freshwater sawgrass marsh, completely immersed in the sounds of the swamp, with lazy alligators chilling out all around us.

Nikon N55, Petzval 85, Fuji Velvia 50 (35, expired) / Lomochrome Purple 100-400 (35), 14/9/2015, Everglades National Park (Florida)