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GUEST COMMENTARY: Lake Placid as seen from a foreigner’s eye

June 27, 2011
Amanda Freitas
Six months ago, I came to Lake Placid to work through an interchange program. I arrived in the afternoon on a Sunday. The sky was dark already, and I’ve never felt so cold in my life. To be honest my first impression about this place wasn’t good. The street was empty, the city and the residents didn’t seems very welcoming. I couldn't be more wrong.

It took only fews days in this town for me to realize how nice and friendly Lake Placidians can be.

It was the small gestures that first caught my attention. For those who live here, this could go unnoticed, but for me it was something huge. People stop their car for me to cross the street. They say thank you all the time, even when they don't need to. They know you by name. They ask: How are you? — and they really want to know how you are feeling.

I noted the funny trolley driver “Miss Ginger.” She is never in a bad mood. Two minutes of conversation with her and it feels like you are already best friends. She is always asking how things are, but it is easy to notice that she is not trying to be polite. She actually seems interested.

Another very special lady is “Miss Linda” who works in the public library. She is very patient and is always willing to help, whether with a guest for a good book or an orientation for you so you don't to get lost in town.

The people from the Baptist Church also have to be mentioned. They are the most altruistic people I ever met. With their hospitality to international students program they really helped us in so many ways. They gave us rides, they made us dinner and they literally sang for us, just to make us to feel at home. Willing to help and welcoming. Those two adjectives sum up these people’s attitude, and I can tell that the spirit of the Lake Placid’s residents could be easily represented by them.

I’m from a big city — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Unfortunately, my beautiful place is also quite dangerous. So, for our safety, some actions are forbidden. For instance, walking on the street alone late at night or leaving the door of your car open (even for two minutes). I used to live scared and tense.

But here you don`t have to worry about that in any way. I guess if I left a dollar bill somewhere, the next day it’s still going to be there. So, it was a mental shock for me to get used to feeling safe. Getting rid of my scared thoughts wasn't easy, but it was delightful.

I still think it’s strange to leave my purse on the table in a night club. I can handle it, though, because I believe that nothing bad is going to happen. I finally lowered my guard for the first time in my life, and for me this means freedom.

For all of theses reasons, I’ll always think about Lake Placid as a magical place. A completely different world that we only see on movies. With people that seem like characters due to their incredible personalities.

Now, I’m just worried to think how hard it’s going to go back to my reality in Brazil and have to lock the door of my house again.



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