I got soaked through on my first night in Fort Lauderdale. Consequently I spent most of the rest of the week sick. I muddled through, but it was hard work.
Fort Lauderdale is a strange place. You can’t really walk anywhere because it’s all so spread out. Still resolutely sticking to my ‘no car’ rule, this added to my general malaise. Achy and sniffly, with a thirty minute walk to the nearest 711 store, I was not a happy bunny.
My reason for being in Fort Lauderdale, of course, was TBEX travel bloggers conference. One of the great things about TBEX (this is my second, I went to Athens last year) is the little trips they organise before the conference.
On the Tuesday, whilst I was still feeling relatively ok, I took one of the pre-TBEX tours to visit a Seminole reservation, at a place called Billie Swamp Safari at the Big Cyprus reservation, one of six Seminole reservations in the state. This is situated around an hour’s drive from Fort Lauderdale.
So if you thought Florida was just beaches, sunshine, retirement homes and Disney (fair enough, I did too; I certainly wouldn’t have bothered to come here if it weren’t for TBEX) then this place will make you think again.
It was a good day out, albeit a little rushed trying to cram everything in to a day. We missed a lot of the animals because we ran out of time, and we raced through the little museum. If you want to be sure to catch everything you can always stay overnight in a chickee, which is a traditional Seminole home.
The Floridian Seminoles are an interesting lot. The only tribe in America never to have signed a peace treaty with the US government, they made money from gaming (they were the first native tribe to open a high-stakes bingo hall), eventually buying out theHard Rock brand around ten years ago. Tourism is thus a secondary income source for them.
In truth, Florida is still not somewhere I would chose to go unless I had a reason (a conference, a desperate need for a Disney theme park, etc). There are more interesting (to me anyway) places to go in the US. However if you do end up in Florida for whatever reason, then this is definitely worth the trip.
As for the conference itself, hmmmmm. Let me come back to that at a later date. I need a few days to digest everything, and I need to get rid of this annoying head-cold so that everything isn’t quite so fuzzy in my brain.
Meanwhile, I’m off to Miami.