Maria Meinke Took the Long Way to Florida
Maria Meinke (@MariaLuvsMe4 on Instagram) lives in Florida, but she is not a native Floridian. Far (far!) from it, in fact.
Currently, she resides in Venice, Florida.
“Which is really crappy right now,” she says. “Because the red tide is just killing everything! It’s been almost three months now. Businesses are really hurting. Tourism and the fishing industry are really hurting.”
Red tide is not something she grew up with, though.
“I grew up in New Zealand,” Maria says. “I have dual citizenship.”
Then she made her way slowly toward Florida.
“I lived in the Cook Islands, on Rarotonga,” she says. “That’s where I really started fishing the most. We lived off the land pretty much. Like, we were spear fishing in the lagoon for fish at a very young age — which was a lot of fun.”
Maria’s South Pacific childhood was her father’s idea.
“It was my dad’s dream to always live on a deserted island,” she says. “So, we moved to Rarotonga, and that was that. Got lucky!”
Maria’s family lived on the island for over five years.
“It was the best way to grow up,” she says. “You know — there wasn’t TV, there was hardly any power, we were outside all the time, running around in the mountains or down at the beach in the lagoon. It was amazing. An amazing childhood — that’s for sure.”
When Maria was 12 years old, her parents became concerned about their children’s education and moved the family to Seattle, Washington.
“That’s where my parents met many, many years ago,” she says. “I lived in Bellevue, Washington. I started doing some offshore fishing there, and it was crazy! It was cold and the waves were so big — you had to have a gigantic boat just to handle the waves. It was so much fun, we’d catch cod and all kinds of fun stuff out there. It was a lot of fun.”
Maria loves the Pacific Northwest, but it was a little different from a paradisiacal Rarotonga existence.
“Seattle was beautiful, though — they call it the Emerald City for a reason,” Maria says. “If it could be summer there all the time, it would be, like, the best places to live, ever.”
So, she decided to try the opposite corner of the country. But on the way, she stopped briefly in the middle.
“I bounced around to Denver, Colorado,” she says. “It’s where my mom is originally from, so we have a lot of family who live there on my mom’s side. It was a lot of fun, too. I got to do a lot of trout fishing, camping and snowboarding. In the summer time, just camping out — it was really fun. I love the mountains.”
But, the beach called.
“One day I decided I was just kind of over the winters,” Maria said. “I had visited Florida before — and I loved it — so, I decided to make the move.”
[Watch out for the continuation of our interview with Maria Meinke next week!]