It’s almost snowbird season. The sight of snowbirds escaping the bitter northern cold is common in South Florida. Not so common is a Canadian woman who makes her way to Carlan Mobile Home Park in Davie several times a year to visit her childhood nanny who is now 95 years old.
Roberta Walker, of Ottawa, has been coming to Carlan Park for more than 20 years to visit Mimi, who has lived in the mobile home community for 28 years. Mimi, a native of Colombia, taught Roberta Spanish during the many years she cared for her in New Jersey. Roberta’s parents were American, but she grew up singing Spanish nursery rhymes and eating arroz con pollo.
She visits Mimi more often now because she is getting older and her health problems have increased. Visiting Carlan Park reminds Roberta of her childhood. In Mimi’s kitchen there is always something cooking on the stove and a telenovela playing in the background. The neighborhood has a rhythm – birds chirping in the mornings, ice cream trucks doing rounds in the afternoons and people sitting outside talking with their neighbors.
This mobile home has always been a dream for Mimi. She and two friends bought adjacent lots together so that they could live side by side, and they’ve been doing so for decades. Although Mimi’s neighbors haven’t changed, the neighborhood has. Police recently found weapons stashed in her garden.
Mimi admits to being scared of the neighborhood at times. But despite the problems, she says she is thankful for the good luck she’s had in her life and for the blessing she sees as her home. Mimi has certainly needed luck to get by, especially when Hurricane Wilma hit Carlan Park directly in 2005. Her neighbor’s house was crushed under a tree, but Mimi’s house was untouched.
Roberta is thankful for Mimi and for Carlan Park. She says it’s home to the Latin part of her. Although she doesn’t have a drop of Hispanic blood in her, she says the Latin rhythm lives in her like a heartbeat.
The music in this story is titled “A Le Le” by Suenalo Sound System.