10 Things Only Latinos Living in San Francisco Understand
1. Any excuse is a good one to bring us to Ross.
It doesn’t matter if you choose the one on Market Street or the one on 16th and Bryant, Ross will always be a place to find affordable treasures in the form of awesome shoes, delicious soaps, and trendy clothes. Even if you end up buying nothing, it’s always fun to go and try something on, lose some time in the different aisles and go up and down the escalators while we think what we’re gonna get the next time.
2. Once in a while you’ll take out all your extra stuff to the sidewalk.
Because we are not really attached to the things we collect during our time in San Francisco and we love to interact with people, a garage sale every three or six months is perfect to get rid of stuff and make some extra space… And a little money.
3. Having breakfast, brunch, and lunch at the laundromat is something you actually do on your free day.
Because doing laundry can be really boring, it’s common practice to do it all in just one day. This means that when we bravely decide to do it, we’ll have a mountain of dirty clothes and a whole day to lose at the laundromat. The only way to enjoy this situation is by bringing some delicious homemade meal in a Tupperware and eat it while we use the place’s free wifi to chat with our friends and family.
4. You know you are home when low riders are around.
Low riders are no myth around here. These guys use hydraulic rams and airbags to replace the springs and shocks on their cars and add compressed air or switchgears to bounce their vehicles. Getting all these up and running is no easy task, so they commonly add extra heavy duty batteries in their trunks and some really big and loud speakers to complete the combo. That’s right, you’ll normally hear them coming before actually seeing them.
5. The most delightful, innovative and modern cuisine is led by Latin chefs.
One street is enough to get your fix of world wide gastronomy, and when I say world wide I mean Ethiopian, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Italian, Spanish, French, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Russian, Moroccan, Canadian… You name it. However, denominations matter little as you’ll usually find a Latino running the kitchen, and a complete Latin crew supporting the place. It just wouldn’t be possible without us!
6. Día de los Muertos is not a Halloween party for us.
We celebrate Dia de los Muertos big time. We start preparing our altars for weeks before November 2; we sew pillows and flags with catrina decorations, we make cakes, paint the doors of our garages, recollect photos of our dearly departed and start cooking empanadas, tamales, and tacos to share with everyone. The festivities also take the parks and streets of San Francisco with night parades where we dance to the beat of Latin percussions. It’s a celebration of life and a way to honour our roots and ancestry.
7. We know where to find all the cheap and free food.
San Francisco is “the golden city of food” and there are many projects that bring free or really cheap organic products to our tables. The Latino community knows where to get them because we love to cook healthy and in abundance. You’ll find a lot of us at El Parque Niños Unidos (the park on the 23rd and Treat) every Sunday noon taking delicious vegetables and bread from The Free Farm Stand, a community project where you get on a line with empty bags and leave full of free organic food grown by people in their gardens or donated by the farmers markets!
8. Every single day, Latinos will help you in one way or another.
When I go to buy food at the grocery store, the girl at the counter is from Argentina; then I go get some photocopies to Kinko’s and the guy helping me is from El Salvador; I stop to put some air to my bike and the girl at the pump is Guatemalan; finally, I go to get some fresh roasted coffee and the person recommending me to get whole grain is Colombian. We’re a big multicultural community under the Latin flag.
9. If a mountain of stuff is left on the sidewalk, you’ll always stop and see what you can recycle from there.
Sometimes even a few of your Latin neighbours will stop by the mountain too, and you’ll end up in a fun collective “exploration”, discussing what pants look better in whom or what materials you should use to fix an old table. You can end up having a block party right there and make new friends who are also into recycling!
10. We can be in a rush but we’ll always have time for you.
In San Francisco, as in many other North American cities, life is fast, people are busy, and no one has time to enjoy others if it’s not planned and noted in an agenda. Latinos are really different in this matter. My best friends could call me just ten minutes before dinner and tell me: “Hey you! Move your ass down here to have dinner with us, we cooked too much food”. We live our lives with more improvisation, and that gives us the freedom to stop and help anyone who might need a hand, even if we are on a tight schedule. You’ll never hear us say: “Oh, I am sorry, I don’t really have the time to help you right now”.