Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bay Area Diversity


Wow...what a surprise for this country boy from Idaho and Montana.  The idea I had of California, you know, that it would be similar to Idaho and Montana except that I'd be farther south, that I'd enjoy warmer  temperatures and of course that it would be more populated.  Well...let me tell you.  First day here Nichole, Adrian and I strolled dowtown San Mateo and I felt like I'd already left the US and had entered another country.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being in foreign countries, hearing foreign languages and being culturally shocked, but I didn't expect to be culturally shocked so close and so soon.  I soon got over feeling somewhat unnerved by it all, when a homeless man, pushing a shopping cart full of his worldly possessions, helped me regain my composure by saying, in response to my asking Nichole which direction we were going and Nichole answering straight ahead, that it's better to say forward rather than straight.  I figure if a homeless man can maintain his presence of mind despite his life situation, then so could I.

What is it that makes me feel like such a fish out of water?  It's a combination of "things".  The vegetation is different.  There are palm trees, tropical flowers, cacti, eucalyptus trees and many other plants I can't name and that are unfamiliar.  The air is heavier.  The land is covered with buildings, asphalt and concrete.  California forces me to redefine my idea of America.  Above all, it's the human-scape that fascinates and challenges.  There are Chinese, Blacks, Mexicans, sub-continent Indians, Afghanis, Japanese, Phillipinos, Jews, etc. and they all coexist within the matrix of Mexican/hispanic culture. 

We drove into "the city" (San Fran) a couple of days ago to visit the Exploratorium.  It was fun toying with science, Sophie, Nichole, David and Adrian.  We had lunch at Gracias Madre in the Mission District, where the sidewalks are dirty, because people use them.  We visited the Pirate Shop, a writer's lab and Pirate supply store, another shop where air plants and animal bones jockey for space and are for sale and a curiosities for kids store.  Murals color the walls of many of the buildings in this San Fran district and the usual melting pot of people walk its streets.  It seems the Mission District is becoming popularized by the more affluent young?