How Everglades National Park taught me to expand my horizons.

As I lay on my couch in Minneapolis stuck indoors because the air is so cold outside that exposure will cause frostbite, my mind drifts back to the hot, sticky air of the Everglades National Park. I know what you’re thinking, “Isn’t that the place with the alligators?” Yes, but it’s so much more than that. The everglades is a peaceful expanse of protected wetlands about 1.5 million acres deep. Within its swampy waters are alligators, manatees, dolphins, heron, and hundreds of other interesting species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and fish. 

When a friend of mine suggested that we drive from lively Miami down to the Everglades, I side-eyed them so hard I thought my eye was going to end up backwards. Then when we arrived and the park ranger told us that we needed to stock up on Mosquito repellent and alligator repellent, wear a jacket and try not to be eaten by anything, naturally I wanted to leave! But we’d made it this far, and through my concern over the mystery of this place, I began to notice a quiet that held me and made me want to go deeper into the Glades. The next thing I knew 2 hours has passed and I had been standing perfectly still on a board walk watching alligators and birds interacting with one another, moving slower than time through the swampy land. 

There was just something so peaceful about the lives of these creatures. We were far removed from highways or busy streets, although Miami was less than an hour away. The only sounds to be heard were the songs of the crickets, the mosquitoes, and the trees. If you’ve ever been to the Glades, you’ll know that its not a zoo setting. The only thing that separates you from the wildlife living there is a rickety wooden boardwalk, or a boat.

So here I am, a bougie city girl, entranced by this swampland! I realized that there’s something so valuable and powerful about perspective. A city girl would never think that she would love sitting in the everglades watching alligators, just like a country girl would never think that she would enjoy taking the train downtown to climb to the top of the Sears Tower. It’s all about perspective, and without it, our judgement is inherently clouded, our opinions and feelings inherently biased. Some travel for fun, but I travel to gain perspective. I can’t assume to know everything about the world until I’ve gone and seen it myself.