Today I encountered something I have noticed often. I cruise around town quite a bit on my bicycle. I may think I am only greeting some people I pass frequently, but I don’t realize how many other people notice my presence. I have met people around town who don’t look familiar but they will greet me and ask me where my bicycle is, or “el senior? (my husband)
Today I stopped to check out a “For Rent” sign and ended up talking to the sweetest, loveliest woman! She told me she was so proud of me for exercising and keeping healthy. She did notice though that I was coming from the north today when I usually come from the south. She knew I had visited the people across the street a few times. Her son who lives next door also told her he had also noticed “la gringa” on the bicycle a number of times.
It is kind of an odd feeling to realize a lot more people recognize you than you know about. We are used to being fairly anonymous in the US. In the cities especially, you can walk down the street and recognize nobody. Maybe you have seen someone before but you didn’t notice them so they continue to be strangers. David is actually bigger than Sarasota, FL where we lived before, but it is a more stable population. Many people have lived here all their lives. It is also a different culture where people talk to each other on the street, while waiting in line, and in any circumstances that bring people together. And, they talk about each other, not in a gossipy way but just to learn – who is that new person? When you are a gringa of a different color and size, you definitely stand out and people are curious about you.
As for the rental situation, I got a tour of the house and learned a bit of the life story of the landlady. She is 92 (I guessed late 70’s), has lived there for 21 years, and is the mother of 5 children. One of them lives next door, and a granddaughter lives on the other side so if she needs anything she has help nearby. But, she is very proud that she takes care of herself and her daily needs independently.
She is renting out part of her house (furnished) to a single person – a small bedroom, bathroom, large kitchen, and laundry/utility room. The renter will have their own private entrance, and will have use of the common areas like the dining room and the lovely patios in front and in back. There is parking for a car out front. She loves to garden and the front and back are full of beautiful flowers and plants, and the shade trees out back keep the patio cool. It’s a very nice neighborhood and she says it is quiet and safe, that nothing ever happens there. The price – $150/month. For a woman who can speak enough Spanish to communicate, and who needs an inexpensive and comfortable place, it would be fantastic.
Later in the day I stopped by to visit my friend Cedo. While I was there another friend stopped by “I’ve seen you on your bicycle in my neighborhood”! We are not anonymous or unnoticed here.