Won’t You Meet My Neighbors

This isn’t Mr. Roger’s neighborhood, clearly. But it’s just as inviting and entertaining.

Bird Rookery Swamp

You know that a hiking path is a favorite of locals when people you meet walking toward you say,

There’s an alligator ahead, before the picnic table.

Two of them, on the right before the gate.

First of all, how do we know where the picnic table is? Or the gate? What gate?

And if the alligator is on the trail before those things, when do we start looking?

So, yes, as promised on the trail description Tracy found online, there were indeed alligators right on the trail. We didn’t have to step over any, but we did skirt the path way on the far side of them. And we started skirting right after we were warned they were coming up, since we didn’t know where the picnic table or the gate was.

I thought it was a beautiful walk, with flooded swampy undergrowth and hawks hunting so carefree that one nearly sideswiped Tracy’s head.

And the day was cool (in the 60s), so the gators were all out of the water sunning themselves.

Turns out they don’t like it when you stand behind them; I’m guessing they can’t see you. We sent one back into the water shockingly fast, just by watching it from behind where we’d felt slightly safer than watching directly head-on. Perhaps there is no safe position to watch an alligator from.

Bonita Springs

The town our RV park is in seems to have the usual Florida mix of areas: up-scale houses on the beach and an historic small town with tourist traps like this one (truthfully I haven’t gone in, so maybe it’s not a trap):

The neighborhood right around our resort seems to be mostly Latin American immigrants, and I’m really enjoying the vibe.

The men ride bicycles everywhere, some with music coming from their phones in their hands as they pass you. They always slow down and pass carefully. Some congregate at the 7-Eleven on the corner, looking for day work, and amazingly the 7-Eleven accommodates them with a bunch of bike racks and zero “No Loitering” signs. They don’t seem to be loitering; they seem to be standing around patiently looking for work. Duh.

Young women push strollers down the sidewalks, and abuelas sit on benches eating nuts while talking to babies.

The Christmas decorations are over the top here, with mismatched blinking lights, blow-up every-kind-of-thing, and lots of bright pink. I’ll try to take pictures, but I hate looking like such a tourist!

Imperial Bonita Estates

Or IBE, as our resort calls itself.

Our immediate neighbor, Liz, I’ve mentioned before; we’re enjoying getting to know her. She’s been everywhere, has strong opinions, and welcomes you to her own private happy hour spot.

Other folks here wave every time you pass them on the little streets, assuming everyone knows each other.

One lady yelled over, “I stopped by your trailer and you weren’t there—I’ll come by again later!” Who the heck was she? Another friendly neighbor.

Mike, always in the pool, has started shouting at me when I walk by the pool. “Shelly, come on in—it feels great!”

And the morning horseshoe crew has gotten even more familiar. No longer is it, “Good morning, children.” Now it’s “Hey there, kids.” Tracy’s going to respond, “Hey there, Dad!”

I see extra golf carts parked by mobile homes and hear bursts of laughter coming out. I see people stopping in the street to catch up. Basically, I see happy people here. It’s such a wonderful contrast to the stressed-out campers I’m used to in other campgrounds.

Luckily we didn’t miss the annual golf cart Christmas parade on Friday night, but we were face-timing friends when the parade went by, so I held up my iPad to share the glory of the lit carts (and didn’t get pictures). There were blinking carts, glowing carts, carts with Christmas music, with Santa driving, with Mrs. Claus hanging off the back.

And because the park is less than full this year due to Canadians not getting over the border, some folks augmented the golf carts with trucks and a vintage car strewn with lights.

Everyone cheered and yelled Merry Christmas as they tooled on by. Even I shouted Merry Christmas, if you can imagine such a thing!

Local Bum

Then there’s this character.

We didn’t take her on the hike with the alligators, thank goodness. So she’s been just languishing in the sun, watching the ibises and herons and egrets. Really she’d like to get closer to the rooster we hear in the neighborhood every morning, or maybe one of the two gopher tortoises that live at the park entrance. Those are just dreams, though.

Florida dreams.

2 thoughts to “Won’t You Meet My Neighbors”

  1. Yes, the Canadians are the real snowbirds, I didn’t realise Americans also used the term 😁 Im sure they’re missing IBE (sounds like a chronic gastric condition) too, it seems more than a little idyllic!