My aunt was in town for a conference, down in the "resort area," the area around Disney World/Universal Studios that often seems a world away from where I live a half-hour north. I hadn't seen my aunt in a few years, so it was nice to catch up and hear about how her family was doing. She was staying at the Hyatt Grand Cypress, a huge hotel with a very elaborate network of interconnected swimming pools set into artificial "caves," with cascading waterfalls and jacuzzis tucked away in little nooks. On the other side of the hotel was a lake with a little beach, and if you landed there in a helicopter you would never guess that you were less than a mile away from a sea of neon signs, fast food, and Florida souvenir emporiums. I was very impressed with the hotel, even more impressed at how the tourist industry creates these pockets of unreality.
What was really a treat was that my aunt took us out to dinner in the hotel at one of Orlando's top restaurants, Hemingway's. I would never have been able to go there on my own, and I enjoyed every minute of our dinner. I had a seared tuna entree that was out-of-this-world, accompanied with savory mashed potatoes baked with a crust on top. Seared tuna! Barely done on the outside, rare yet warm on the inside, dipped in a soy-wasabi sauce... mmmm. Nour tried their coconut shrimp, and my aunt had crab cakes. For dessert, we shared an excellent key lime pie with a baked meringue topping.
Living in a general state of American isolation, adrift on a peninsula with no relatives within eight hours of us, it was also nice just to be reminded that I have a family.