April Travels To: Los Angeles, California

Image

As I was on my way to Oklahoma City for my 6pm flight, I  got into an accident.

The tire of Emon’s car exploded and we watched, transfixed, as the wheel ply rolled over to the middle of the road. It was a cliché movie plot turned real:  main character tries to leave, a big challenge pops up, main character breaks down but in the end, he/she overcomes the difficulties. For the first time in my life, I had to help someone fix a car while wearing heels. It wasn’t fun but it was totally rewarding.

I smelled like grease and sweat when I boarded that plane. However, the old lady sitting beside me didn’t seem to mind. Maybe she did but she knew better than to say something.

I often book my flights with CheapoAir because I find that they offfer really good deals and their customer service is good.  It was my first time to fly with Frontier airlines and surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. It was different. In a good way, that is. The flight attendants were funny and they were goofing around us like we were friends instead of passengers. The guy attendant even joked that if we found somebody attractive, he’s going to let us change seats before the plane takes off.

I arrived in Orange Conty around 10:30 pm. John Wayne is an airport/ mini art gallery. It was fun admiring beautiful paintings while walking to the baggage claim area.

I was happy to finally see my lola and tito ( who I haven’t seen in like forever)but I was also so hungry that my thoughts were clouded by food. They took me to In-N-Out Burger. Man, I was speechless for awhile. Their burger is pretty darn good.

Since I was only staying for three days, my uncle and his wife Jocelyn planned my itinerary. On my first day we went to Santa Monica Boulevard for a taste of West Hollywood. I was like a thirsty nomad who saw an oasis. That place is a shopaholic’s heaven.  Which is why don’t even think of going in there just to “window shop” because I can guaran-damn-tee that you can throw that notion out of the window.

Just a few blocks away is the Santa Monica pier, a famous 100 year old landmark. It has been featured in a lot of films like Iron Man, Titanic and Forrest Gump. You should definitely check it out especially if your vacation is just short. Most of the people you’ll find there are also tourists so feel free to behave as “touristy” as you like (yes, i know its not a word).

I remember that the couple on my left was French; the family on my right was conversing in Italian and the woman behind me was probably Chinese (I’m Asian but I still get confused). Well, the point is, we were all wearing shirts with the L.A. logo.

Venice Beach is okay but it’s not as amazing as I thought it would be. Everywhere I look, people clad in bikinis and board shorts are sunbathing under the California sun.  People in L.A love to reinvent themselves but they sure know how to relax and live for the moment.

Around 12:30 pm on Saturday, we went to Universal Studios. I had fun taking pictures with my aunt and uncle. We went shopping for souvenir shirts which were cheaper than I expected. I also bought some comical socks and jackets. I wasn’t able to tour inside Universal and do all the rides because I was running out of time. I needed to be at a Filipino house party by 6:00 pm and L.A traffic can be such a bitch.

After that, we went directly to Downtown Disney. Since coming here to America, I have never been able to visit any amusement park so this experience was kind of new to me. Downtown Disney rekindled the childlike part of my personality. I walked around with my baby nephew watching artist’s sketch Disney characters on the concrete. I tried out some Disney costumes and bought a Minnie Mouse headband. I ate some candied apples and drunk some jamba juice. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see the Disney parade or enjoy the rides but I’ll do that the next time I go back for a visit.

The party I went to that night was awesome. I met some of my father’s high school friends who also became U.S. immigrants. They served authentic Filipino dishes for the guests.  I haven’t eaten dinuguan and lechon for two years. Man, it was so nostalgic that I almost freakin cried. The Asian community in the town I lived in is not that big so I hardly get to see people who grew up in the same culture I did. It was such a relief not to speak English for a few days. Lol.

Sunday came sooner than I wanted. Before heading to the airport, my uncle bought me some Pumpkin Spice Latte and scones from Starbucks. He’s an angel dressed in hiphop clothes. I definitely wished that I had more time to enjoy my trip but alas, it’s time to go back to the real world.  At least now I can stop dreaming of Hollywood because I’ve finally been there. Image

Dance with a Cayote

Standard

804092_221215414687970_546566963_n

Cayote, that’s what she calls herself. At age 18, she and her husband decided to leave Mexico. They had no social security number, no passport, and barely even spoke a word in English. All they carried with them was a loaded gun and enough money to pay the fixer who will help them cross the border during the middle of the night.

It was a tough life, she said, chasing the American dream while running away from the law. It was even harder when you’re with a man who enjoy strong liquors but hate strong women.

I remember the first time I saw her in Laverne. She dropped off my mom from work in her old, beaten green Sedan. Maybe it was her smile or maybe it was her eyes. There was something about her, something elusive. She is, I guess, one of those old souls that my grandpa used to tell me about.

On her 50th birthday, she invited a few people over for lunch. We were at the front porch of her trailer house. She gathered her skirt and sat beside me. Oklahoma breeze was softly caressing our sun kissed faces as we silently watched cars passed by the country road. I can faintly hear Jake Owen’s voice singing “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” from the neighbor’s house. Somebody was grilling pork belly in the backyard. The smell was divine.

She handed me a can of Bud Light. With her thick Mexican accent, she asked: “So, do you like living here?”

“It’s not like what I expected.” I told her.

She laughed.

Then, embraced me: “Welcome to America, amiga.”

April Travels To: San Francisco, California

Standard

I was overwhelmed with nostalgia when I first stepped into the airport. I’ve always loved travelling but for the past two years, I’ve had to give it up so that I can take care of more practical things like family, bills, bills and yeah, more bills. It was a surreal moment. The atmosphere, the energy of the airport made me feel like I was at home. It was like an old friend giving me a really warm hug.

Okay, so enough about my personal epiphanies. I just got back from a trip to San Francisco. To be honest, If I listened to the logical part of me at that time, I wouldn’t have booked that flight. There were so many reasons why it was such a crazy idea. First, I didn’t have enough money in my bank for a vacation, my mom just left us to go back to Asia, one of my coworkers got sick so work was piling up like shit and blah, blah, blah.

However, I figured out that the universe was sending me a cosmic message when  I heard Train’s “Save me, San Francisco” twice on Pandora and then a few hours later, I read a quote from Viktor Egelund’s facebook page that says: “Everyone who is lost can be found in San Francisco.” I just couldn’t ignore it anymore. Too much synchronicity.I went online, bought myself a round trip ticket and kissed Oklahoma goodbye ( for awhile at least).

It was a cathartic experience even though I only stayed there for three days. I’ve been through a lot last month that I was just emotionally drained and miserable by the time April was done. I needed me a break. And California is the place to be. The weather is warm and sunny. Public transportation is accessible ( which is good because I don’t drive) and there are Asians everywhere. It almost felt like  I was back in Manila.

Here’s the catch though: I was traveling on a budget. I told my friend Jasmine that I was determined to spend only 300 dollars in my stay there. She was up for the challenge. I’m proud to say that I only spent 250 dollars total. Of course, this was mainly because I stayed in Jasmine’s apartment instead of a hotel and we got free meals from Filipino friends who love to cook for visitors. lol.

Here are some of the places that made an impression on me while I was there. The city has a very upbeat, eclectic quality to it. It’s been a melting pot of different cultures for decades that it made visitors feel like they were locals. It emanates a very artistic vibe but with a more laid back feel to it. Boredom is not an option for San Francisco.

DSCN0444

Took this shot while I was in Alcatraz. The sun was up, the sky was perfect and the view is amazing.

Alice Walker, the famous writer of Color Purple lived in one of the six houses behind me. As a fan of the book, it was such a surreal experience being in the same place where one of my favorite author used to stay.

DSCN0468

Your visit to SF is not complete without going to this landmark.

DSCN0395

For only 30 dollars, I was able to learn a lot about the history of the place and the interesting events that happened there. They give you a head phone where you can do a guided tour by listening to the voice of the narrators. The place is eerie and sad. Every corner has  a secret to tell.

DSCN0527

Go to the vineyards. Napa is just an hour and a half away from San Francisco. Before the wine tasting, I decided to try out their olive oils. My favorite is the one mixed with jalapeno. It has a little bit of kick.

DSCN0507

Me posing in one of the vineyard. I think this was in Viansa. I’m not sure if I got the name right. I bought Tocai Friulano while my friend Jasmine got herself some Pinot Noir. Tocai has  more citrus notes.

DSCN0461

Despite the sexual undertone, it was a beautiful place overlooking the entire city. Thankfully the weather decided to cooperate with us and did not fog up the area.

DSCN0485

it almost felt like  I was in the South of France or Spain. Well, I’ve never been to both countries so I’m not really sure. However, I do know that the architecture of some Spanish hacienda’s kind of resemble this place.

2013-05-17 11.19.35

This is the view in front of my friend Jasmine’s office. Vintage building designs. Hipsters and art students walking down the streets. Fashion is very subjective and inspired in the bay area.

One interesting trivia: Sugar Daddy is a term that originated in San Francisco. Alma Bretteville, a young nude model who’s statue can be found in Union Square married a man twice her age. Adolph was the heir to the Spreckels sugar fortune. She called him her “Sugar Daddy”. That’s where it all started.