Countries We Write In: Mariana Ríos

As you may know, I’m Mexican but for the last 6 years I’ve been living in Anderson, South Carolina, USA and I love it. Anderson is a small southern town located two hours from Atlanta, Georgia. This town has been like a piece of heaven for me, with all the green, the wild animals, and the four seasons we get to experience every year. Coming from a big city in Mexico, this was a wonderful change of scenery and rhythm for our family life. I feel so lucky to be living in such a charming place where I actually have everything: good restaurants, cinema, Starbucks, coffee shops, shopping stores and a lot of outdoor places to enjoy. Also, we are just 40 minutes away from Greenville, South Carolina, which is a city with many things to do including art shows, theatre, cultural festivals and many more shopping centers and restaurants with foods from around the world.

So, after that introduction, I want to show you some of the beautiful landscapes I get to see around me. There are several ponds and lakes in Anderson, some are even in neighborhoods close to ours (sadly we don’t have a pond in our subdivision, but we get deer and beautiful birds!). Since I love landscape photography, I feel blessed to have the chance of witnessing such gorgeous sights, and let me tell you that fall is a wonderful season here with the leaves changing colors just now ❤️🍁🍂.

I got to capture this beautiful sunrise (with 2 suns) last week, after dropping my daughter at school. Isn’t it dreamy? The reflections on the water are gorgeous. Both lake pictures were taken same day, same time, same lake…but different angles (by the way, this paradise is the entrance to a neighborhood. How lucky are these people?).

As I mentioned, one of the things I love most about this town is that I get to see a lot of wildlife: ducks, deer, squirrels, opossums, skunks, birds…These cuties were swimming in another pond in the same subdivision as the lake above.

Another lake, another neighborhood (one of my friends lives there). Look at the gorgeous colors of fall, just this past weekend! Changing seasons is one of my favorite things about this town. Back in Toluca, Mexico, we only had one season: cold and rainy. So coming here opened my eyes to the beauty of nature’s colors, trees, and flowers I hadn’t experienced before. Sometimes in winter, we even get some snow, but just like 2-3 days, so it’s enough to have some fun without being buried by it.

Now, I want to show you some pictures from downtown Anderson. In recent years, the town has been investing a lot in adding hotels, new shops and restaurants to make the area nicer. There are little coffee shops, restaurants with outside seating, antique shops, jewelry shops, clothing stores, and more. There is also a park where they set up a giant screen for movie nights during the summer and a little ice rink during the winter. I love the lights on the trees. Downtown truly looks magical all year long (not only during Christmas time, which by the way is a gorgeous season here).

A view of Main Street.
Another view of Main Street.

This little coffee shop above is my favorite in town. It’s so cozy with rocking chairs, beautiful flowers and umbrellas. They also sell a lot of organic local products here. I always order a French Vanilla Latte. Delicious! The flatbreads and grilled cheese sandwiches are my top choices from the menu (sorry, no photo). My kids love the ice creams here. There’s also a “Little Library” that looks like a robot, it’s so cute. See that black scooter? There are many of those around downtown, so people can enjoy discovering it “in style”. As for me, I haven’t got on one yet.

Like some of my fellow contributors, I love Starbucks. I don’t usually write there, but I enjoy quiet reading times or chatting with my husband while the kids are at gymnastics or dance. My favorite treat here is Chai Latte. I’m a fan!

One of my favorite places is my home, and the sight we have from our deck. When the weather is nice I like writing there, and sometimes we have coffee or dinner outside. I love the view of the backyard with the trees. We usually get deer visitors, so I’m delighted when I get to snap a picture. Besides, we get amazing sunsets every now and then. My daughter says that sometimes we get “cotton candy skies”. She is absolutely right.

My best buddy Rogers aka Roggie.

Regarding my writing corner. I normally write in my room, I have a lap desk for when I write on my bed or just sitting on a chair. I have a desk, but I don’t use it much. So lap desk for me or the deck! Here’s a pic of my writing tools. I’m lately obsessed with cats, though I don’t have one, I find myself including them in my picture book stories (and coffee mugs).

Finally, I want to share this pic of my writing buddy Roggie, who’s always by my side when I write (and when I don’t). He’s the best!

I hope you liked this post. It was super fun taking these pictures and sharing about Anderson. Of course, there are many other great and beautiful places to see here. But I hope you get a good idea of what this town is about and why I find it so special. Thanks for reading!

Mariana Ríos Ramírez is a Mexican picture book author living in South Carolina. She was a high school teacher and co-owned an online business before becoming a writer. Her debut book, Santiago’s Dinosaurios, will be published by Albert Whitman & Co. in October 2022. Her second book, Abuelita’s Gift, will be published by Knopf in Fall 2024. Besides writing, Mariana enjoys photography, traveling, Chai Lattes, and k-dramas.

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14 thoughts on “Countries We Write In: Mariana Ríos

  1. Wow Mariana, your photography is top notch! Anderson looks so beautiful and I really enjoyed your introduction. It indeed sounds like a paradise 💫


  2. This was such a treat and one of my favorites of the theme so far. Cotton candy skies are so enchanting! Thanks for sharing with us!


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