It's kind of fun when you start recognizing one or two people in the elevator. The place begins to feel like it might become home.
It's also wonderful to be back in a walking neighborhood. I loved not having a car in Chicago, and I think I'm going to love it here too. There will be days I'm thankful for the gym facilities,* but for now, I love taking my daily urban hikes. At least once a day, if not more, I set off to discover what might be down a street nearby. I still have many many streets to go. I try to go down at least one new one every day, and have to repeat streets several times to "catch" everything anyway. I count the way "out" as exercise, walking at a clip and and scoping things out. But I always have a bag on my shoulder just in case ... because on the way back, I might stop by a place catches my eye. (And this is definitely a BYOBag city.) And I have found a treasure or two. Like coffee filters just 2 blocks away from our house! And Columbian coffee beans (J's favorite). And a few other Laowai-type things -- as well as some great local things like a wet market less than two blocks away, through a side street.
*Uhm, I'm sure I'll be thankful for the gym facilities - they're quite nice. Full open and airy gym, indoor pool, outdoor beach, the works. Too bad I struggle doing those kinds of workouts... Yet another thing on my "to get better while I'm here" list.
I also love being able to get fresh "stuff" every day. Back on PHX, Jeff would get his bananas for the week. Now, I go down to my favorite fruit guy who always sets up just outside our complex and I get a couple apples or oranges every other day or so, and he throws in a couple bananas for "free," then points to himself indicating (I'm sure of it...), "Buy your fruit from me and I'll give you a deal." He also picks off the bad grapes and such before weighing them. (And he really is doing that - I checked.)
When we first got here, I went to the big Carrefour supermarket, drawn to the "familiar." Ok, it wasn't really familiar in that I spent hours (literally) going through the aisles trying to find things I recognized. But shopping at the big "Safeway/Target"-style stores was familiar, so that's where I went. Now, I'm in the process of finding which little stores nearby carry the stuff we want. Now, I need to go to several stores to complete the shopping list as no one store has everything, or even close to everything, I might have on the list, even for a single meal. But, this makes every trip out just more of an adventure. (Except when I'm in a hurry. But that's kind of rare right now.)
Frankly, I love the excuses to be out and to have to go to several places because, as with my "hikes," I get to see OMGReally!?!? things and just "be" here, soaking it all in. Like the busy outdoor "cafeteria/buffet" just up the street.
Interestingly, from what I've seen, most sidewalks are wheelchair accessible. They all even have this strip down the middle to enable people who are blind to walk safely (presumably using a cane?). The strips turn to round "lego" type things at each corner to let the person know that the sidewalk is ending.
Oddly though, most stores and restaurants are elevated so not at all accessible to people in wheel chairs. Not quite sure how it came to be that virtually every sidewalk is "blind friendly" but virtually every business entrance is "wheelchair unfriendly."
Anyway, between the Friendly Fruit Guy and the local grocery store, there are two alley markets, where various vendors set up shop each day to sell services (luggage and bicycle repair while you wait), meats (cut right there to your order ... so long as you don't mind the process but that's another story), live sea creatures (eels, catfish, turtles and more), rice, spices, blankets, hats, and more. And veggies. I go there for the veggies!
So -- that's just a teensy tiny taste of our new neighborhood ~ all (and much much more) within a block of our place.