Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Weekend in San Francisco

My brother lives in San Francisco and we'd been promising that we would see each other more often since we are now in the same state. Well, San Diego and San Francisco aren't exactly close so to each other so I worried that our promises to hang out more might never materialize unless we planned a trip in the present instead of planning it for the future. Chris and I decided to take advantage of his Fridays off and drive up there for a long weekend. And as luck would have it, or good karma, or what God planned - whatever your take on it - a couple of our friends from the Peace Corps were also going to be in San Fran for the weekend, for completely unrelated purposes, which then turned into one relatable cause: to party!

San Francisco, like most metropolitan cities, knows how to have a good time. Depending on the particular neighborhood the party's purpose will vary but not the party's will. We happened to be in San Francisco during the Mexican holiday of El Dia De Los Muertos and I had heard from my friend Sara that this was an event we should see. Having lived in South Texas where the majority of the population is Mexican, and, admittedly, after watching the movie Frida, I'd always been intrigued by The Day of The Dead celebration and a little jealous that it's not practiced within my own culture.

I must confess: as per my pessimistic nature I was bothered by the Day of the Dead festivities in San Francisco as I had thought I would be. For the most part people were respectful of the rules and didn't drink alcohol during the event or cause any fights, but I was put off by the lack of, well, Mexicans. We were in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood yet saw very few Latinos. My brother's roommate, a Mexican-American from that same neighborhood, noted this as well. My worry is that this somber, unique holiday will be cheapened by being turned into a for-profit celebration that forgets its history- much like St. Patrick's Day and Thanksgiving. If, instead, its popularity signifies an acceptance of Mexican immigrants and an urge to make this melting pot that is the U.S.A a happy and safe place for all people of color then I'm all for it. Either way, it was an interesting festivity to see and made it possible to be reunited with friends.

The kind of spontaneous company that moves effortlessly from remembering the dead to eating Cuban fusion and drinking pitchers of beer at Cha Cha Cha's, to bowling, bar hopping, and performing street-side acro-yoga.

Random acts that don't seem so random in amazing San Francisco - were "let your freak flag fly" should be the city's motto.

Of course it's not all marigolds and peace-loving hippies - we did witness a woman get her iPhone stolen from out of her hands while riding the trolley and my bro's neighborhood is known for its crackhead-to-street-corner ratio, but, did I mention my brother was a Military Police officer while serving in the Marine Corps? Yeah, I feel pretty safe when he's around.

And, of course, we didn't just go out partying the entire time we were in San Fran - there were waves to be ridden! In fact, such good waves, that a leg of the men's world surf competition, the Coldwater Classic, was happening that week and many famous surfers were strolling the streets. People I would never be able to pick out of a crowd but that Chris can, like this Australian, Julian Wilson:

The only surfer that I can identify, Kelly Slater, was also there and apparently I took a picture of him which Chris identified due to Slater's typical bald head and blue wet suit (in the middle of the picture below standing next to the dude with a gray shirt and long dreadlocks).

The weather in San Francisco was uncharacteristically warm that weekend and there were many people taking advantage of it at the beach. Like us and Chris' loyal buddy Magnus. But even though the air was warm the Pacific waters were still very cold so the men donned their wetsuits.

 I did what I always do when Chris surfs - watch, read, and ponder. I am the philosophizing spectator, in the business of keeping myself entertained.

 Thus another weekend well spent in the Golden State. Now what I want is for the rest of my family to come join me and my brother here in the best coast.


Anonymous said...

All awesome! I am trying to get us there.

Kallmen said...

Interesting that Day of the Dead is huge there. It's not that big here in SD so close to Mexico. And I want to go to the restaurant you went to and have the yummy food that you got. Makes me want to go t!o SF!

Ana Lucia said...

Yes! that food looks good ...yum ...platanitos ... looks like Cuban or Puerto Rican food.

You look a lot like our Coot when you're acting silly... even got a smile out of James, god job!

Krista said...

I am jealous of the Cuban food and the RPCV time!