South Bend’s river lights
Charlie Ortega Guifarro | Thursday, October 5, 2017
It was on a cool April night when I found a treasure, a true blessing, an everlasting memory …
As an incoming freshman, I never liked the idea that the college I was going to spend four years in was supposedly in the middle of nowhere. “South Bend, Indiana,” was never listed as a reason to come to Notre Dame, on any college review website or by anyone I talked with. Moving to a place infamously known as one of America’s dying cities, how was I supposed to be excited about the location of my “Home under the Dome?”
I spent my first semester in college stuck inside the Notre Dame bubble, willingly. Coming from the booming metropolis of Miami, I had fixed the idea that South Bend was just a low-quality college town with nothing more to offer other than a University mall, some restaurants and a very small downtown. I had only visited downtown South Bend once for a quick trip and was unimpressed but, then again, I was never giving it a chance.
I tend to read reviews before I buy anything online; I have to know whether what I’m buying is high quality or not. Very few would buy a product after reading several bad reviews on it. Coming to South Bend for me was like going to a restaurant that has been said to have low-quality atmosphere and food except for that one exclusive table with bright lights and food for thought.
Second semester rolls around, and I had now visited two places in South Bend: Nick’s Patio and Cinemark Cinema. A 24-hour diner and movie spot. Talk about progress.
The night that I asked out my girlfriend, I realized — apart from all the lovey-dovey things — how much I did not know about South Bend. The river lights are a jewel that few people know about, and I — by chance of luck and love — found it in my freshman year. Ever since, I have explored a bit more of South Bend, and I am glad that I have, because there is a lot more to our host city than just a lack of great clubs or big-city entertainment.
The westside of the city has a lot to explore, with a Latino community that reminds me of home and always has something new to discover. Downtown South Bend has a theater with many performances every year, the offices of Mayor Pete, an Indian eatery and an art district worth checking out. While I certainly can’t say that I’ve visited most of the spots in the Bend, I sure hope that by the time I graduate, I can say that I’ve fully appreciated the wonders that are in South Bend and its surrounding areas.
I came in with a mindset that South Bend would bore me very easily and had unknowingly set myself to reach just that: disappointment with the city. I advise you, fellow reader, to not make the same mistake I did and discount South Bend before you even try it. Go and explore the Bend — it’ll be a satisfying experience, and even if you don’t take my previous advice, take this one: Go to the river lights one evening, you won’t regret it.
… Seconds into my new relationship, I took in the moment and realized how great it was: the gentle spring breeze, the sound of water falling and running and hurdling past us and the light that ignited the white cheeks of my beautiful girlfriend with delicate ribbons of blue and purple. The South Bend river lights.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.