Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Tuesday in LALA Land (or An EVENTFUL day)

Maybe THIS SONG would be a song that would go well with this post, in a strange educational way.

I wake  up at 8 am. Never have I been happier to find a coffee thermos with lukewarm coffee !  LA motels don't seem to have coffee makers in the rooms. They do have LARGE LCD TVs though ;-) There are no stores to be seen close to the hotel.  The parking lot was packed at midnight when I arrived; At 8:15 less than 1/4 of the stalls are occupied! I look at 5 license plates and find Missouri, Massachusetts, and Texas among them. 

not my picture but it looks like my room

I don't take pictures because people give me funny looks and don't reply when I say good morning. Some of them wear head bands. I am reminded of what the Babushka Taxi driver said: This isn't a good neighbourhood.  Ah Well, the thermos contains enough for me to fill a second Styrofoam up with lukewarm black liquid.

Not my picture
The bandana-wearing youths in their banged-up car keep hanging out in the parking lot. I have never  been to LA and have no idea where to head next.  So I use Google to look for E-bike rental places.  The greatest concentration of those is located around Santa Monica and Venice. Switch back to booking.com and get a hotel there.  Beach and Bicycle. Better than Bandanas in Inglewood ;-)

The bandanas leave and I start taking pictures:

Where am I ?

Scared to eat here

NOT feeling right at home

On the way to the bus stop. Note wooden block under car ;-)

Oh, those trees !!!!!


What the Compass card wants to be
I leave the motel at 10:30 and find a bus stop 3 blocks down the road. Google Maps has told me which bus line to take to Venice.  A bus ride in LA costs $1. Wow, the Canadian Dollar is still overvalued ;-)  And they even have pre-loadable tap cards. You don't tap out when leaving the bus so it still costs one dollar, but it saves you having to carry around single dollar bills.

The bus takes me to the intersection of Lincoln and Washington, where I would have to change bus lines.  It is ugly as hell here; just a big intersection with LOTS of cars. But there is a city sign on the other side of the intersection and it says Venice.  Venice city limits! I start walking West, thinking the beach can't be far, and I don't want to tap my card again to take another bus along an easily walkable route.

I haven't had any real food since Vancouver so I'm looking out for food places. I see fast food places, Cafes where one has to order at the counter, and then I see the right one.  When I have a look at the menu displayed in front of a cozy looking small restaurant I at first think I see Chinese food, but when I sit down at the table the menu says Thai. Lucky Day !

I order Green curry with chicken & rice for $6.95.  It could be spicier for my taste but it really really hits the spot ;-) 

While eating and typing this, I also consult Google Maps again.  Less than 2 km to walk and I get to take off my sandals and dip my toes into the water at Venice Beach.

 At first the walk does not look very interesting.

But then it quickly becomes more interesting: Instructions on traffic lights. Given the intelligence of the general populace, maybe a good idea for Vancouver as well.



Drought and water shortage in California?
I don't want to eat that Thai food and I suspect they serve tiny dogs in those Tacos

Is that why they call it Venice?

I think I saw the front of that cow in Puerto Vallarta !

And then I arrive: Venice Beach
I go buy some booze (White wine tastes so much better close to a warm  beach), and some salt pretzels (why break old habits?), and have an early afternoon nap.
After I wake up, the phone rings. It's one of those strange area code numbers that are usually associated with advertising calls.  I answer it, intending to give them hell.
"Good afternoon, Homel Ess speaking" (actual name changed)
"Is this Homel Ess?"
"Yes, what can I do for you?"
"Are you in Venice Beach?"
"Yes, but HOW would you know?"
"Did you lose your wallet?"
OMFG !!!!!!!!!
I meet the person in a restaurant  a block away.  I lost my wallet (HOW?) when I bought the wine (I was still sober). The Mexican store owners told the caller, who found out my phone number in the internet (That yellow page listing paid off big time !) and called me.
Great Karma wishes to the person who found the wallet, the store owners, and him who found and called me, but also some wishes for enlightenment. He states that he lives in Venice Beach (lucky  him!) and points out the beach areas that are frequented by 'transients' at night.  He points out that I was lucky that none of the 'transients' (read homeless) found my wallet.  Yes, I am. But If somehow after the act, I would have mysteriously been informed that a homeless person got the cash and returned the useless credit cards and pieces of ID to the store, I would have not been all that upset.  I mean, come on, an affluent person can 'afford' to hand in a found wallet untouched, but would anyone actually expect a homeless person to leave the cash untouched? Put yourself in a homeless person's shoes for a second, if you dare ;-)
What can I say?  Never mess with Karma !!
The hotel receptionist inquired whether all my cash was still inside. After confirming the fact, he said "Even in California!", to which I said "That's what I would have said".
Oh, did I mention already: Don't mess with Karma!
At first I thought I should lay low tonight, but I head back to the Thai place for dinner.
Along the way I enter a surf shop to check whether I can find a cheap hoodie, because mine bit the dust (literally) during last week's bike adventure.  When I see a woman trying on oversize boots, I remark that they almost look like snowboard boots. To my utter astonishment the store clerk tells me that they indeed are snowboard boots and that while pointing at the wall he mentions that they sell snowboards as well.  I am dumbfounded.  I am at the beach in Los Angeles!  I pick a $50 price tag hoodie off the '$19 rack' and leave, trying to digest it all.

Along the way, my bladder indicates a need for emptying (where did that bottle of wine go?). Unlike in Shenzhen, I am not fortunate enough to spot a Ritz Hotel along the way (Pee-ing at the Ritz), but I spot a Marriot.  It does not rhyme as well to the tune of the fabulous FRED ASTAIRE CLASSIC, nor is the washroom as lavishly furnished, but it does get the job done.
Lunch special time at the Thai restaurant is over, so now I have to pay $10.50 instead of $6.95 but the portion is bigger and I'm getting Swordfish fillet in red curry. I had told the waitress that barely understands English (Does she speak Mexican?) that the lunch curry was white-people-Thai food and that they could make it spicy but that seems to have been lost in translation.  Oh, how I miss that SPICY Thai seafood curry in Kailua-Kona! That was truly something to write home about ;-)  But I'm not putting this one down. The food is great with generous portions! And I always like seeing that trace of a happy smile when requesting chop sticks instead of the western cutlery laid out on the tables.
To connect to the David Bowie song playing or not, I realize that my plane landed at 11:30 pm last night and that I've been in LA only 19 hours and that I'm starting to like the people here.  To put this into perspective, to get a German to admit that they like Americans usually involves varying degrees of lobotomy, cash payments, or application of torture instruments.
After dinner I head back to the  hotel and the beach after a short stop at Marina del Rey (how could I not with that name?).

Marina del Rey
Venice Beach with transient aboce


But it pays to be aware of complacency. It can result in death before actually experiencing anything else ;-) (It's not the destination that's important; it's the journey!). So accordingly, I am not staying in Venice Beach tomorrow, but will take public transit to somewhere called Redondo Beach.

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