Maria Lopez Reeves stares out the minivan window at a series of unfamiliar storefronts.
"I hope we're going the right way," she tells her husband, David.
He shrugs and replies in Spanish, "Si no es por aqui, es por alla." If it isn't this way, it's the other way.
They're trying to find a Pentecostal church, where the service is scheduled to start in a matter of minutes.
Maria is anxious. She grew up with people who were more laid back about punctuality. But here, other churchgoers might stare if they're late, and Maria wants to make a good first impression. She needs a new spiritual home.
Maria glances at the clock and shifts in her seat.
"I wonder if this pastor is on Puerto Rican time or American time," she says.
David makes a U-turn and heads in the other direction.
This sprawling stretch of highway in central Florida is at the heart of a political battleground. The population in Osceola County has ballooned in the past decade -- fueled largely by an influx of Latino residents who've helped turn a region that once leaned Republican into a wild card that both presidential candidates want to win.
The county, just south of Orlando, was once known for its old Southern cow towns. Now, residents call parts of the area "Little Puerto Rico."
Maria is one of Osceola County's newest residents, and she's among the undecided voters who could play a key role in shaping the state's election results.
More than three months of searching have brought the 59-year-old Puerto Rican, her husband and their Chihuahua, Chique, to a three-bedroom house here.
Towering trees, swampy wetlands and fields dotted with grazing cows are just a few minutes away. But in this subdivision, small, orderly lots form cul-de-sacs where the houses are mostly shades of beige, with occasional pops of pale pinks and yellows. At her front door, Maria has placed a mat and a wreath that say "WELCOME." But it doesn't feel like home.
Half-emptied cardboard boxes are scattered in every room. The couple sleeps on a stack of three mattresses because they can't find all the pieces of their bed frame. The air seems dusty. Even the Chihuahua has been sneezing.
Maria hasn't met her neighbors. For every well-manicured lawn, there's another overgrown yard with patchy grass and foot-high weeds. Clear signs, she says, that the houses are in foreclosure.
In April, the couple sold their manufactured home in Orlando. Renting here wasn't their first choice. They'd always owned their home before. A decade ago, they had a four-bedroom house with a backyard pool.
But this time, when they wanted to find a place to retire, they learned their credit wasn't good enough to get approved for a mortgage.
For months, they have been eking by on their savings. Now, they're overbudget.
"If we have $50 left over every month, we'll be lucky," Maria says. "People shouldn't have to be living like this anymore."
David, a 57-year-old diabetic and longtime long-haul truck driver, has been out of work since December, when a sudden surge in health problems forced him to take time off from the road. Maria has relied on government disability benefits since severe asthma forced her to stop working as a nurse decades ago. But monthly Social Security checks aren't enough to keep up with the seemingly endless spiral of medical issues. Mounting bills for doctors appointments and medicines are a daily reality.
Despite President Barack Obama's campaign promises, Maria says making ends meet has been harder the past four years. While banks and car companies got bailouts, she says she saw cutbacks in the food stamp funding she receives as part of her disability benefits.
"If anything, we were penalized during these past years," she says.
Maria describes herself as a lifelong Democrat. But she says she doesn't trust Obama and no longer feels strongly about the party she once fervently supported.
"I feel let down. Our party wasn't there for us."
She wonders whether Republican hopeful Mitt Romney would push for the financial help she needs and promote the moral values she supports.