Virtual neighbor

October 26, 2013 § 1 Comment

It has been a little over a week since the moving truck miraculously, as it seemed for us,  found our driveway and delivered our old household goods and treasures from across the country.

At the end of the trail

At the end of the trail

We drove over two thousand miles with a car loaded with last minute additional stuff, so many years after the last covered wagon brought settlers westward over a long and treacherous journey, carrying only the bare essentials to start a new home.

I'll always remember when the truck pulled in...

I’ll always remember when the truck pulled in…

In the past year I had been reading journals and letters from pioneer women, fascinated by the stories of their feats, misadventures and tribulations over months-long cross country trips of a lifetime. I have thought of them often since we  left our New England home three weeks ago. Of course there are many obvious differences between what they had to put up with and what my husband and I have experienced on the journey. Obvious because of the progress in transportation, communications, safety, accommodations, and all those  things we take for granted now.  However there is one thing that was not at all obvious for me at first:  the now indispensable help of the internet.

Every day since we arrived in Santa Fe, we have relied on our cell phone internet connection for information that would have taken months to gather from friendly, welcoming neighbors, local word of mouth, or through multiple trials and errors.

Chez Mamou, a great breakfast!

Chez Mamou, a great breakfast!

Where is the closest Home Depot? How do we dispose of our trash; where do we recycle so many cardboard moving cartons? Where and when do the local farmers’ markets take place? Where is the best breakfast place in town? What does a black widow spider look like, or tips on bread baking in high altitude. A few samples of the questions we constantly have asked Siri, and even if she was fairly reliable, unlike a local old timer she didn’t answer with a local accent (we got good laughs at how she pronounced street addresses like “Camino del Cielo” or “Calle Acequia Baja,” for example).

So now what kind of questions can we come up with to have a pretext to meet our neighbors, to hear the local lore, to listen to the views of an old local sage who brings unique, quirky insights on the community, to exchange and compare views on our respective backgrounds. To make friends who, as our neighbors back in New England, might one day come to the rescue when bad weather strikes, or bring vegetables from their garden surplus; whose wayward dog we can safely return to them from our yard; or just to shoot the breeze when we are all out in our driveways?

Our windows on our new neighbor's

Our windows on our new neighbor’s

We can always Skype with our old friends and neighbors back in New England, but no matter how strong the signal is around here the Internet will not bring us close to our new neighbors the way a knock on their door will.

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