When I travel, I like to settle into where ever I am. Week-long vacations are fun, but its hard for me to say I know a place in such a short amount of time. I like finding a favorite coffee shop, the best place to read in the library and shortest path to the nearest farmers market. I like developing connections with the people and city where I’m living — however temporary it may be.
When I spent a month in Spain, I fell in love with the gelato and quickly made it my personal goal to find the best gelato stand among the many that lined Salamanca’s central plaza. I suspect they all had the same supplier, but I didn’t let that stand in my way.
In London, I learned to navigate the subway system — the Tube — like a native. I took advantage of all the free museums in the city and made sure I visited each one before I returned to the states.
In Santa Cruz, Bolivia, I found the best bead shop with walls lined in strings of beads and in Nicaragua, I became a loyal regular at one fruit stand when the owner threw in a couple limes after I bought a pineapple and three passionfruit.
Its been almost eight months since I moved back to Worthington and I’ve been feeling more and more like a local every day. My job helps. It gives me an easy “in” with businesses and community members and is the perfect excuse to stop into a new place to see what they have to offer.
Just this week, I visited a business that I had driven past countless times before. Located on the corner of Oxford Street and Milton, it always seemed busy with cars parked in the little driveway and lining the streets. Children often played out front while their parents stepped inside.
Even thought I was there for a story, the home-like facade of the building made it hard for me to resist the urge to knock before I opened the door.
Whatever I expected, the bright interior of La Morenita was not it. Owner Olivia Figueroa greeted me from behind the counter and then sat down with me to do a quick interview about the business she owners with her husband. A half hour later, I left with a bottle of Coke from Mexico in my hand and a new business to visit whenever I have the chance.
I’ve been talking to other business owners lately, introducing myself and learning a little bit about their stories.
And I’ve found some great new places to frequent in Worthington. Quesadillas at Mini Mart Lupita, sweetbreads at Pandaria Mi Tierra and papusa at Pupuseria & Restaurant Crystal.
Worthington may not be as sprawling as London or as exotic as Bolivia, but it is a community full of new things to try and people to meet. The more I immerse myself in the diversity that makes Worthington what it is, the more I see the richness that we have in our backyards.