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Sunday, December 12, 2010

53rd Stop: San Francisco, California

Even before I had ever been to San Francisco (this would be my second time), I had always felt drawn here. I had said to myself, if I ever return to live in the USA, it would be San Francisco and nowhere else. Why? I guess the culture, the personal freedoms, the scenery, the climate, the people, to name a few. San Fran, you once again lived up to expectations...

I flew back to the future, meaning I left Tuesday night and arrived Tuesday afternoon, and met Nate at the airport. Coincidentally, Nate was just coming back from a trip to Minneapolis, our mutual home town, arriving just an hour before me! We got a cab and caught up on the events in each others’ lives for the past few years.

I knew Nate from high school but only really got to know him at the University of Minnesota. Nate went into journalism and now works for the Press Democrat, a Sonoma county paper, covering business and wine. He recently won an award for some investigative journalism into property dealings that ultimately led to an investigation by the attorney general. Kudos Nate!

Nate is also one of the reasons I’ve been wanting to surf for so long. The last time I saw him (in San Fran), him and another friend, Matt, told me all about their new passion for surfing and it sounded so inspiring that I’d been wanting to try it ever since. Ok, that’s enough about Nate, even though I’m tempted to tell you a really funny story from my wedding involving him...

When we arrived at Nate’s place in the Mission, an old Sears Roebuck store that eventually got converted into lofts, we where met by Tess, Nate’s new roommate who works in industrial design, designing furniture as a freelancer.

I was having a nice time in San Francisco and could go on for pages, but I’ll try to speed his up. Here are some photos of murals and parties in the Mission...

Party wall climbing

I ran two Wordfast workshops downtown for translators during the week and in the evenings, went out with Nate and his friends, including Aaron, a math professor whom I really appreciated. One night, we went to a couchsurfer meet-up downtown and I also coordinated with Lando and Joel Yau to meet us there.

Lando and I met in Mauritius and he recently came back to look for work and settle in San Francisco. I met Joel Yau in 2008 when I helped organize France’s first street painting festival outside of Nice, Les Craies d'Azur. We flew Joel over from California to participate in the festival and show us how it’s done! He stayed with my family in France and we had a blast. Ever since, we’ve stayed in touch and it was really great to see him again.
Madonnari and Vagabonds

Another friend from high school, Adam, noticed via Facebook that I was in San Francisco and him and his girlfriend Rose happened to be there randomly that weekend as well. So we all met on Friday night and stayed out till the wee hours of the morning.

Saturday afternoon, Nate and I left for Bolinas, north of San Fran, to go to the birthday party of Matt, the surfing friend and erstwhile neighbor, and another person. Matt grew up down the street from me in Minnesota and now works as a dentist. Every year, him and his friend rent a house overlooking the ocean in this small hippy community and have a crab fest. I say hippy community because there are some hot springs where people generally bathe naked and locals have been known to tear down the sign that tells people how to get there!

Driving down the mountain to Bolinas
Before the party started, Nate and I threw our wetsuits on and tried to catch some waves. Unfortunately, the surf was calm though it was quite the sensation to be surfing at night in the fog. After surfing, we strolled through the local Christmas crafts fair before it closed and drank some delicious homemade eggnog. Then I called Véronique, one of my trainees from my Wordfast training the other day, who happened to live in Bolinas and who had told me to call her and stop by if we wanted to. Sure, why not!

Véronique served us some whisky and popcorn and we spoke with a couple of her friends and her husband, a famous writer by the name of Charles Fox. Charles has been living with multiple sclerosis for more than 20 years. He is quoted as saying, “It's good to be alive. It's a gift, an extraordinary experience. We only have this very brief time, and it's important to take full advantage of it.” I couldn't agree with you more Charles! Thanks again Véronique for having us over, it was a pleasure meeting everyone!

By the time we got back to the house, the crab fest was well underway and about 15 people were there having a splendid time. Once we ate and drank our fill, it was time to walk down the beach to the local pub, listen to music, sing along, and dance! We were in luck because there was a great band from Canada playing that night; I was extremely happy to hear the cover of Tryo, a French reggae group.

Matt in a hat and Nate
The next morning, I got up early to check out the waves. There wasn’t enough surf to make it worthwhile so instead I walked along the beach with Laurel and caught a beautiful sunrise.

Nate and I got on the road by 9:45 because we had an hour’s drive ahead of us and my flight was 11:30!

Thanks Nate for hosting me in San Francisco and Matt in Bolinas; that’s 5 more bednets to protect 5 more families from malaria! I had a wonderful time with everyone and look forward to catching up with you all again soon.

Next stop: Orange County and Los Angeles, California!

1 comment:

  1. I read an article about Bolinas recently, and I thought everything about it seemed pretty amazing!


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