San Francisco – home, sweet home

Whenever I return to San Francisco I’m amazed at how rapidly it changes. It seems that in the last few years money has just been pouring into the city as all the “techies” start to make it their home, instead of staying in Silicon Valley where they belong. When will they finally be satisfied!? (Deep sigh…)

Nonetheless, it still feels like home to me. And for the days surrounding our pre-Peru side trips, Léa and I spent some quality time in what everyone objectively considers the best city in the US. I’m still talking about San Francisco.

Léa arrives about a week after I do, and we go straight from the airport to an old favorite taqueria in the Mission district called El Farolito, because burritos are what I miss most about San Francisco. Friends and family come in a close second. Léa and I eat burritos and stare into each other’s eyes, mouths too full to speak. I think she gets it.

In the following days we bounced around the city like pinballs, getting prepared for South America and enjoying as many of the city’s gems as possible. 

We kicked this off with a long bike ride around the bay, passing by the Palace of Fine Arts,

The Golden Gate Bridge,

The piers, and the sea lions that live there (ah yes, the fog rolling through the bridge in the background),

The Bay Bridge (usually safe from the fog),

We then cut through the city to Dolores Park, which is a sort of hipster paradise (similar to Barcelona’s Parque de la Ciutadella) and a great place to drink a tall beer in a paper bag while watching other park-goers: so many of them appear to me as exaggerated caricatures of the San Francisco-esque people I would see a decade ago. I can’t help but feel they’ve lost the plot somewhere along the way, but who am I to judge? ….”Posers!”

Later that week my mother has a surprise present for my father: indoor skydiving! 

We all pile in the car – Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Léa – and head off to the skydiving center. My father doesn’t realize what we’re doing until we walk into the building, “Surprise!” 

And he was surprised. And confused. And unsure. And after a short, relatively useless instructional video we’re putting on fly suits, goggles, ear plugs and helmets, and lining up to take turns inside of an intense wind chamber that mimics terminal velocity. 

Highlights included my father’s windblown squirrel face, and my physical and mental resistance to the hand signals the instructor was thrusting in front of my face, pleading that I straighten my legs. I was bending them as hard as I could, struggling on the floor of the net while he wrestled against my contorted body. So awkward.

All in all, a successful surprise gift that everyone really enjoyed!

Before leaving for Peru, we snuck in an amazing evening with my sister, Devon. Having spent several years working with food in San Francisco, she knows what’s up. She takes us to a sushi restaurant and has her friend, one of the chefs, improvise a meal for us. The sequence of plates that came to our table was outrageous. Léa looks up at me in the middle of the meal and with utmost sincerity declares, “I think this is the best restaurant I have ever been to in my life.”

Two bottles of sake later we’re skipping off to one of my favorite dive bars. After that we’re stumbling to my sister’s apartment where a private Beyonce dance party ensues, complete with interpretive hiking poles and broken furniture. I wake up the next morning sleeping on the foot of the bed at my parents’ house like a dog, with all of the lights on.

But damn, that sushi was AMAZING.

With only one free day left in San Francisco, the Desautels family heads to Golden Gate Park for a picnic. We played boule on the grass, ate the typically San Franciscan It’s It ice cream sandwiches, and posed awkwardly in the Japanese Tea Garden.


Then Léa woke up in a pile of cash, and it was time to leave the country!




Categories: Posts in English

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