Friday, August 17, 2007

Florida, From a Foreigner's Perspective

That foreigner being me, of course. Because we all know Texas is its own country.

"Honor the Texas flag, I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible." Heeheee. I couldn't resist!

As Cary and I were eating at one of our local favorites today, I started reminiscing about all my favorite places I miss back in Texas, and hence this blog entry came to mind. So for those of you that want to know what it's like to live in Florida, this is for you. And for those of you dear friends that I have made in the sunshine state, maybe it will interest you to see your state through the eyes of a foreigner. And for the record, I do love it here (if you don't believe me, read #11). But I've had to make some HUGE sacrifices as you'll read and life is certainly different here. I know I will get used to it, but here is some of the culture shock I've faced.

1. My Texas friends, there is no Jack in the Box, Whataburger, or Taco Cabana here. Isn't that tragic?

2. In Dallas/Fort Worth, I never lived more than 5 minutes from a Target, Chick fil a, or Starbucks. Here...THIRTY MINUTES to get to any of those places. And we live in a well populated area!

3. In Texas, there are Mexicans, lots of them, everywhere. Here, there are Caribbeans. Most darker skinned people here are from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, or Central America. Interesting people. Very different from Mexicans. And that's all I'm gonna say about that!

4. Which brings me to to something very near and dear to my heart...Mexican food. It's just not right y'all! Tex-Mex? What's that? It took us like 7 months to find a Mexican food restaurant that we love, but it's not Tex-Mex. In fact, the owners are from Washington State. But it is MOUI BEUNO (I have no clue how to spell that!)

5. Glitz and Glam, not so important here as it is in Dallas and Houston. Don't get me wrong, I have pretty friends here, beautiful friends. Of course. And there are pretty people in every city, but not at the abundant amount, the massive droves, as there are in Houston and Dallas. If that makes sense. Am I crazy? I do believe the largest number of pretty people in the world live in those two cities. I don't know why it is. It's like Hollywood on steroids! I've even had friends from the Northeast that moved to Texas and pointed out that the people in Texas are very image conscientious. One of my Philly friends said she felt so unattractive when she moved to Houston in comparison to the people in PA. Silly, I know! I took Cary to Second Baptist Houston one time (definitely a MEGA church) and he called it the "Pretty People Church" because like every person we saw was so beautiful! But there are malls in Dallas and Houston where you actually have to have a certain look or else you feel very much out of place, in fact most malls and shopping areas seem that way there. I kind of feel like our church was like that too. Fellowship was definitely a trendy place. Or maybe I'm just way too self conscious. Not that appearance matters. Just something I've noticed.

6. Back to food cause it's HIGH on my priority list, can you tell? Dallas has the largest number of restaurants per capita in the US and I guess we just got spoiled to the abundance of choices. Even in Orlando, which is 20 min away there's not as much to choose from. My mom and Nanny noticed that too when we were on the west coast of FL on vacation. To be such a touristy place, you'd think there would be more to choose from.

7. Family Friendly, or should I say lack of...I don't know! This is going to sound crazy, but there's just not much to do here with kids. Okay, now let me explain. Yeah, Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, all those places are AWESOME but that gets really expensive. It's not like we can just GO whenever we want to. But in Dallas, there are so many kid friendly places for cheap or free. Churches there have indoor playgrounds open to the public, indoor bounce house places popping up everywhere, all the malls there have play areas, kid boutiques like Sweet N Sassy where they can get their hair and nails done, the Wiggles Play Center in Frisco, TONS of play groups galore, Kindermusik, The Little Gym, those hourly childcare places popping up everywhere, I could go on and on! I've yet to find places like that here. Maybe they do exist and I just haven't found them yet. I hope that's the case.

8. The cost of living here is extremely HIGH! Housing especially. This 60 yr old, termite infested house we live in, 1500 sq ft would sell for anywhere from 180k-200k. This same house in Texas would sell for about 110k at most. To get a house equivalent to what we lived in there in a nice, brand new neighborhood, 2500 sq ft, would be about 350k here and under 200k in Texas. Eating out is much more expensive here too. All of the restaurant prices are higher here, maybe because of the tourists. Even CiCi's pizza. $3.99 in Texas, $4.99 in Orlando! CRAZY! And the salaries are not higher here to offset the cost of living. I was talking to a teacher in Texas, with 7 years experience in a public school...$53k/yr. She would make about 10k less here per year. It's just insanity!

9. RELIGION, oh man. Where do I begin? Dallas is the belt buckle of the Bible belt. Everyone there goes to church, Christianity is so mainstream. There are at least 5, at least, mega churches (over 10,000 in membership) in Dallas Fort Worth and probably that many in Houston as well. I don't find that to be true here. It's very dry. I feel like I'm in a desert, spiritually speaking. Which is good, that's why God brought us here! But it's hard! In Texas, new contemporary churches are popping up on every corner, meeting in every shopping center and school. And that's great. Many of them seeker sensitive, but they do reach the unchurched. It's just not like that here...YET. Hopefully it will be soon. There is a large Mormon population here, and some paganist religion where they do animal sacrifices. I can't think of what it's called, but it's very popular in Caribbean cultures. And there's definitely a lot of "no religion". But I love the challenge. And I love it that God brought us to a place where so many are unchurched. It's all good! BUT MAN...I MISS ED! I miss Fellowship Church so bad it hurts! I've shed many a tear over leaving that place. At least I do get to watch him on TV here every Sunday morning at 8 on USA network.

10. Texas=Friendly....... Florida=not so friendly.....I don't know what else to say. I think there are lots of yanks here. Southern hospitality is DEAD in this place. It doesn't feel like "the south" to me. Lots of young and old here are from New York, not that that's bad, but it's not the same.

11. And some things I DO LOVE about Florida, cause I now realize this sounds like a giant gripe session...I love all the Palm trees and tropical looking flowers that are abundant. I love the west coast beaches...St. Pete is my absolute favorite. I love Caribbean food...who would think it? I love love love being this close to all the Disney attractions! I dearly love the nice people that we have quickly become friends with and our church is very much our extended family. I love our house, although small and termite infested. I love going to the old downtown area 3 blocks away and buying my produce from a produce stand (which is half the price of Walmart!), I love the weather. It really didn't get hot and muggy till about mid July. Until then it was very mild and enjoyable. I love it that it doesn't get too cold here, like ever! Flip flops every day man!!! Who wouldn't love that? And most importantly, I love it that God brought us on this crazy adventure to this foreign land. And through our obedience, He has blessed us beyond measure.


Becky K said...

Girl based on your comments - I don't know HOW you survive out there. I just moved back to the Big "D" after three years of Lubbock and I thought I almost died there! But it was still Texas though. Hope you have loads of fun in Texas on your trip - speaking of "D" ever been to Sam Moon?? Love that place!! They have Aggie Crocs too - got some of those?

mom2iande said...

I understand...I have lived here, but traveled to different places on vacations and mission trips. I do understand the difference between the mexican population and the cuban population there - it is the same in south carolina as far as that goes. NO WHATABURGER? Mel Tillis advertised for them for years...must be a southern thing. I agree with you about the churches pooping up all over the place in Texas...maybe that is why you are there.

At least there are airlines so you can get your Texas fix when you need it!

Texas Aggie in Florida said...

GIRL...AGGIE CROCS? SHUT UP! I'm so there! Oh, Sam Moon? I'm the one responsible for them moving to a bigger fancier place I do believe. I used to go when it was on Harry Hines in the itty bitty place, then they moved up the road, now further up the road AND Frisco. Crazy! THere's definitely nothing like that here. They have lots of flea markets here, which we don't really have in Texas. But nothing like Sam Moon's.

Becky K said...

Haha!! You used to go to the one on Harry Hines! Me too, parking was a pain in the rear! I normally go to the Frisco one now since my family lives in Plano. I don't know about the one in Dallas but I know the one in Frisco just added a Sam Moon Home Decor store! Have to see that! The Aggies crocs are in the Sam Moon Luggage store....if you can't wait to get them I can make a "special" trip to get them and ship them to FL. I mean it is only fair considering you are counting down the days until A&M football begins!

mom2iande said...

where did i see another sam moon? it was just the other day and it was not in dallas or the one by stonebriar mall in plano. i will have to ask the hubby and see if he remembers. ugh! i hate it when my brain doesn't work.

mom2iande said...

i came in hope of the new "blog face" being posted. grrrrr....

mom2iande said...

there is one off i-35 ...there is a new shopping mall near saginaw close to cabelas and alliance. we saw it when we were going to "the farm" to see my parents and i gasped as we passed it and my hubby rolled his eyes. he just helped me remember where we were. yippee...sounds like an adventure for you when you are in dallas in a few weeks. so, do you have the days counted down in crimson on your calendar???

Texas Aggie in Florida said...

Yeah, that sign near alliance has been there forever. But did they ever build it? That's right by our old house. And for some reason I thought it was going to be a distribution center. But maybe I was delirious.

mom2iande said...

i will keep watching for it...i will put a post on my blog with a link to yours so our readers can go see it. i bet you could do it if you had adobe ps. you have to have adobe ps to edit the stock photos.

Texas Aggie in Florida said...

I do have Adobe ps. I hate it! I'm not a photoshopper. The layer thing, it's too much for me. I can't handle it. I probably could have done the header, but she's making me a whole template, a 3 column deal with a cool background. I know I couldn't do all that.