We’ve been living in the Pecan Grove RV Park for more than a month now, which is a long time in a traveler’s world. In what is actually quite a short space of time, however, we’ve gotten to know quite a few people. We were invited over to our neighbors’ place for a cookout last week, grilled swordfish and coconut pineapple rings to be specific, and upon learning that we hail from the great land of Pennsylvania, one of our fellow guests mentioned that he used to live in Philadelphia. He proceeded to mention how he felt that folks from PA, particularly Philly but in general all of “the North”, were very much colder than Texans. Not colder in the sense that an Austin November is warmer than many Pittsburgh summer months, but that they just weren’t as friendly.
I have to say that I agree.
In the five years I lived in Erie, PA, I never made any friends outside of work. It took me nearly a year of living in Pittsburgh to meet a decent amount of people. I’ve probably met more people in the last month here than I did in an entire lifetime in Pennsylvania. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but there’s something real behind the notion of Southern hospitality.
And it doesn’t feel like Austinites are putting on a show just to be polite, but that they’re genuinely warm people. We’ve been invited into people’s homes, shown around the town and so much more. It also doesn’t hurt that Tristan, my own flesh and blood, born to one of the most introspective, often shy people I know (myself), is a real go-getter. He’s constantly socializing with the neighbors, with new people who pull in beside us, wowing them with his insight and constantly questioning them on their lifestyles, their RVs, their pets, whatever he can muster up some conversation over.
There’s also a general lack of mistrust, suspicion, among people here. The park itself is a wonderful little community of mostly people who either live here as their primary place of residence, or have a permanent place to retreat to on the weekends. They have made this little slice of land in the middle of the city of Austin into not only a cozy campground-feeling place to stay for a few nights (or in our case, a months) but also a real neighborhood. You can watch them walking their dogs together, tonight a group invited us over to hang out with them and there are constantly kids riding around the neighborhood on their bikes, friends on demand for Tristan. Tonight we even babysat for the same neighbors who invited us over for the afore mentioned cookout, giving us a chance to live the other side of RV life – $100,000 trailers with a koi pond, multiple slideouts and HD TV. Different to our own lifestyle, for sure, but not an unwelcomed little vacation right at home.
In general, the atmosphere set by the people is a very welcomed change from what, and I must agree with the former Philladelphian, is a less than cordial, often suspicious, nature that seems to prevail on the other side of the Mason Dixon.