Orlando, Tampa, Lakeland, Ocala… Having spent quite a bit of time in these places, and many other cities and towns situated in the midsection of Florida, I’ve come to realize something.
Though these places appear civilized, the truth is that are all in the constant squeeze of a big, old jungle of tall trees, hanging moss and dense brush. They’re locked in a constricting tangle that is home to man-eaters, silent killers and creeping scavengers. Gators, snakes, bears, vultures, coyotes – even panthers. Though these beasts are not often seen, they are always there, lurking just beyond the tree line, or just under the surface.
Sometimes, these creatures move into the ever-fragile outposts of humankind to kill pets and livestock, offering a grim reminder that we are in their kingdom, and that it is not the other way around. That’s the way it is in Central Florida. That’s the way it’s also been.
Though the larger state is known for its warm, coastal waters, fresh seafood and theme parks, make no mistake: the center of the state is a savage place that cannot be survived by just anybody. This place is ruled not by gunpowder and gasoline as you might think, but by poison and fangs and ancient magic. So take heed as you wander its roads and drive its highways, gleefully soaking up the sun. If you venture to far from the pavement, you risk being devoured.
This article debuted on WildLives.co on 29/11/2017.