Farewell to friends and continents
Trip Start Feb 17, 2006
11Trip End Aug 2006
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Last cultural event was a visit to the La Azotea museum of costume, music and coffee. Have to say that as wonderful and interesting as the Guatemalan and Mayan traditions are, music other than drumming does seem to be a weak point. Whilst enthusiastically created at celebrations and festivities, the tunes do rather lack in, well, tunefulness. Would even go so far as to say I prefer Bandamax or reggaeton, just... It's each musician for themselves, nevermind if your fellow band members are all playing a different melody at a different tempo
The coffee in the museum was good too, though a second cup later in the day with the Bagel Barn afternoon special proved too much caffine after a lifetime without and I wobbled home feeling decidedly odd.
Wasn't sure what to expect from the airports after the problems in London, but apart from extra searches and my lipbalm being taken away thejourney to San Francisco via Los Angeles was straight forward. My hostel in the city centre wasn't so great and expensive after the nice $4 places in Guatemala but the all-you-can-eat breakfasts (bagels, bread and muffins with jam, marmalade and peanut butter) were fabulous.
Found my way round the city easily, good public transport and easy to walk around. The weather did throw me, sunny one minute pretty chilly the next. Apparently hot weather further inland drags fog and cold air over the city. My first view of the Golden Gate bridge was only a half view, the top being covered by low cloud. The city is full of very steep hills (the invention of the street cars allowed them to build on hills impossible when horse and cart was the only transportation)
Spent a day with friends from the 2005 Indian wedding, David and Darrin and their two delightful children Cameron and Max. Philip joined us for lunch at Google out in Silicon Valley where they work. Fantastic free canteen on the site and all sorts of innovative things around the place like pool tables, tents as meeting rooms, electric scooters, heated toilet seats...
Also got an evening out in Santa Clara with Mozhdeh who I'd volunteered with in Santiago Atitlan. One evening I ate in (one of?) the first veggie restaurants, Greens, in Fort Mason. Excellent food, had to wait 40 minutes for a table. Another evening saw the film World Trade Centre. A simple tale of two survivors trapped in the rubble and their families, it is well acted and shot, but left me feeling rather unmoved.
I hit the city centre shops where Sales Assistant Caitlin helped me spend quite a bit of money in Nordstrom, which I topped up with some great bargains at Old Navy. Lucky I'd bought an extra bag (after finding out it would cost me $200 to ship home 6kilos of shopping - worth less than $40 - from Guatemala I decided to carry it), so there was room to squash it all in
I was disappointed not to get to Alcatraz, which I've heard is fantastic. It gets booked up way in advance through high season, but I did get to see the highest trees in the world - the redwoods, Pier 39, China Town, views over the city from Coit tower and Haight Ashbury where the hippy movement started. Definitely a city I'd like to go back to and get to know better.
My last few nights in the Americas were spent with family on Long Island, New York. Lounged on the beach, splashed in the pool and ate delicious home grown food, while entertained by little Zoe.
Had lunch with my Delhi room-mate Sara before flying home. Felt like the shortest transatlantic flight I've ever had, and Mum & Dad were there to meet me at the airport. Surreal being home, and starting work on Tuesday feels an alian concept. Just having to divide days into week days and weekends seems wrong!
Taking the trip was 100% the right decision, my farewells to Guatemala, Byron and my other friends there are certainly an "au revoir" rather than "goodbye". Not sure if I've developed or matured (despite reaching my 4th decade) during the adventure but it was jolly good fun!!