I’m sorry to our family and few followers if you got an email with an incomplete blog post of ours! I had written some incoherent notes and accidentally clicked “publish”!
Anyway, we spent two and a half weeks in the San Francisco Bay area. I have broken up what we accomplished in the following posts, trying to illustrate with pictures whenever possible.
Early Friday afternoon, we were letting ourselves in to Remy’s apartment.
Edd and Remy have known each other since high school in England and even lived two doors down from one another on South Street.
Remy originally came to the US with his wife, but they have since split up. He works for a software company now and lives in Belmont, about 20 miles south of San Francisco.
These California suburbs, though. On Friday afternoon, everyone was driving back home after a week of being overworked. A company can give the staff bean bags in the conference room and kombucha-infused quinoa kimchi at lunch, but people really just want to be at home. So they run red lights, block intersections, honk and cut you off, all without a wave or a thank you.
Some of this entitlement extended to the supermarkets. Don’t expect anyone to reciprocate an “excuse me” or “sorry” if they bump into you! And when we bought our pizza ingredients the first night, the cashier couldn’t manage to smile back at us while she rung us up for overpriced produce. She had also probably dealt with many grumpy commuters.
But many of the area’s immigrant communities seemed more relaxed. One Indian cashier at the market was really funny. An African security guard who stood outside the local bank said hello to us every day with a big smile. A Chinese woman chatted to me about cake flour. An Egyptian man gave us a really fair price when he worked on our car.
With several bags of groceries, Edd and I walked back to Remy’s apartment. We were about to cross the road when a policeman pulled up next to us and shouted, “Use the crosswalk!”. Being a pedestrian here is not easy.
Finally Remy arrived home and we ate lovely homemade pizza. The two British boys talked about about living in the US and laughed about the American pronunciation of “Craig” and “parmesan”.
Then they got down to it and played on Remy’s Nintendo Switch. We played a lot of Mario Kart and Bomberman in the following weeks!
On Saturday we took the train into the city and Remy showed us around Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf.
You have to try pretty hard to get attention in San Francisco. Go almost completely naked if you must. Or, as we saw later that day in Dolores Park, walk with a snake wrapped around your arm. Wear a silver top hat, throw a frisbee over people’s heads, sing about your personal savior or just blast dance songs and gather a crowd.
But no matter who you are, you have to constantly deal with prices that make your eyes roll. One gourmet deli, Bi-Rite, was charging 10 dollars for a sandwich or 14 dollars for bars of chocolate and people were pushing to queue up there like it was a Prince concert. We got popsicles from the Mexican guy in the park instead.
On Sunday Remy drove us to Santa Cruz, which has a famous boardwalk with an amusement park.
It took us an hour to park the car. But we got to stretch our legs and breathe some Cali sea air at last.
Most of the weekdays, we got up early with Remy and got right to work!
One day I went running and saw an old table in the curb. I saved it from the jaws of the garbage truck, and gave it a makeover.
It was my first mosaic in months, and the first time I used tile nips. It was a treat to be able to do something a little artsy. Mosaics are messy, and I couldn’t have done it in the van.
Meanwhile, Edd installed a transmission temperature gauge. He’d ordered a kit made by Auto Meter. It’s being held temporarily (or permanently?) in place by a hose clamp. Those aesthetics don’t matter so much, as long as we can monitor our transmission!
Edd also installed a cable running from the alternator to the house battery. This means that the alternator can help charge our battery while we drive.
Remy works 45 hours a week and commutes an hour each way to work! So during the week Edd and I did our best to help out on the domestic front. We tried to clean and have dinner ready around 7pm when he got home.
Remy is a vegetarian, so we prepared veg versions of our favorites: pizza, arepas, pasta carbonara, chili, and cauliflower curry followed by carrot halwa.
And before we knew it, the week had passed.