photograph taken by Diego Segurola
Diego Segurola is a junior majoring in Hospitality Business Management at Florida International University. Son to Cuban immigrants, I aspire to learn more about the history and culture of the city in which my grandparents and parents sought refuge. I seek to satiate my curiosity of those who laid down the foundation of our beautiful South Florida.
Everglades as Text
photograph taken by Letizia
I truly had no idea what to expect when I was on my way to the Everglades for our class slough slog. Having lived in central Miami my entire life I have always been aware of the mysticism linked with the Everglades, otherwise referred to as the “river of grass” by conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas. However I had never experienced an in person trek through this one of a kind terrain and environment, I had only seen pictures. I was awe struck on my drive to the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center. I could not help but lower all my windows and gaze upon the sawgrass prairies that went as far as the eye could see, with no buildings or street lights or footprint of humanity other than the road on which we drove.
Stomping through waist deep water on a muddy and uneven ground terrain in an ecosystem which is home to over 750 different species was a life changing experience. I felt like a pioneer carrying my walking stick and
admiring the flora and fauna. Park Ranger Dylan and Professor Bailly both emphasized the importance and value that the Everglades possesses, being recognized as one of only 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States. I was able to appreciate the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere and the largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie in North America with all 5 of my senses. The slight and subtle slicing of the sawgrass as I walked through it. The sweet songs of the birds and chirping of the bugs. The smell of fresh natural air and grass. The view of a towering Cypress Dome, so large one can clearly see the curvature created by the larger trees in the center. A slightly salty taste in the air deep within the Cypress Dome.
After an adventurous slough slog, we traveled over to the Anhinga trail for a peaceful stroll. We were lucky enough to see several Anhingas spear fishing for dinner, as well as a couple alligators sun bathing and even a snake. It was remarkable to observe all of the complex dynamics constantly occurring in the diverse ecosystem which is the Everglades. Our final destination of the day was the ancient deer feeding station, the last remaining structure built by the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs. This voyage through the trees made me reminisce on the mystery and curiosity the first pioneers of the Everglades must have felt when they explored through the never ending foliage of wilderness.
All in all, my favorite experience of the day was when Park Ranger Dylan suggested we all have a couple minutes of silence within the Cypress Dome simply to appreciate the sounds of nature and beauty of the untouched and natural South Florida. I felt truly at peace and connected with the ground upon which we stood. My understanding of the Everglades changed in the sense that I appreciate the individual components, whether it be species of animals or trees, which come together to create this beautiful and thriving diverse ecosystem.