Kicked around Los Angeles’ Union Station and Olvera Street for a day, a part of LA neither of us had seen on previous trips. It was heavily touristed but the locals were mainly Mexican families, giving it a feel both familiar and foreign. M bought a luchadore mask and practiced his Spanish on the merchants and waiters. Street performers addressed the crowd in Spanish, including the indigenous dancers who performed in front of an elaborate nativity scene in the central rotunda of a public square.
We were both sleep-deprived and seriously bickering, up and down and down and up the short street crowded with market stalls selling leather goods, Mexican candy, arts and crafts and Mexican-themed crap made in China. We finally made up over an amazing Mexican meal at La Golondrina, best tortillas I have ever had in my life! And I don’t care if they were lard-inclusive, even the refried beans were excellent, not to mention the rather decadent Chile Relleno de Jaiba ( “Roasted chile poblano stuffed with seasoned snow crab and served in a roasted mushroom and chile chipotle salsa.”) I don’t know if that was authentic or haole-fied, but it was delicious, with big chunks of crab and lots of flavor.
The day was bright but cold and by 3 in the afternoon we were both tired and soon found ourselves perched in Union Station dozing and people-watching. Sitting next to a security guard, we overheard on his walkie talkie a bomb scare, to which LAPD responded but didn’t sound the alarm. We also heard an almost scarier scare, a report of a woman shaving in the ladies’ public rest room. Face? legs? armpits? This I investigated myself only to find a swarthy woman in men’s work clothes drying her face off with paper towel. While I took a leak, I listened to her conversation with a tattooed, middle-aged white lady who had “been on the street for two years” and was giving the other lady a name at some agency, a woman who could help, “tell her you’re pregnant and she’ll help you.”
The train boarded around 6:15 pm and we snoozed pretty much the whole 10 hours to Flagstaff until we were ejected at the dark, cold station with neither our bearings nor our winter gear in place. But we bundled up and made our way to the Grand Canyon International Hostel and jumped in on their all-day Grand Canyon tour, which took us to the site that was the whole purpose of this stopover.
I took about a gazillion pictures that all pretty much look the same, but was thoroughly impressed with our day trip to this marvel of geology, as well as with the elk and the raven who were also there. The scenery reminded me of a cross between Haleakala Crater and Waimea Canyon, but with snow. Tho it wasn’t freezing-freezing, there were several inches near the rim and we used crampons to do the beginning of a short hike into the canyon (am I geek for finding that really fun?)–for my non-hiking friends, crampons are these metal spiky things you strap on your shoes to grip on the ice. Very simple and functional and made me feel a little more bad ass on the trail, LoL.
BTW I’m glad I brought my trusty hiking boots instead of the knee-high, wedge heel, golden suede pair I was drooling over in the department store before we left Honolulu.