Let me just say, right from the start, that this trip surpassed all expectations of what my imagination had conjured.
With that said, there are so many experiences from scenery to music, from the people traveling to the musicians/artists, from the train to surviving in a teeny tiny sleeper compartment that it will take me
several posts to cover it all.
Sit back, read and travel along.
The above photo was taken as I departed Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico at 7:30AM flying DIRECTLY to Los Angeles. US Customs was a breeze except for one smart aleck Customs guy who chastised me for not speaking better Spanish! Really? I could have told him a FEW things in English, I guarantee...just kidding.
In any event, it was much, much smoother and faster then Houston's operation which is where I'm usually entering, thankfully.
Out I went, just three hours after leaving Mexico into the air of LA. I was looking for the Super Shuttle pickup point. I found a person, a stool and a portable chair! After giving the woman my information and being instructed to sit on the bench, I started laughing inside at the "setup" for a shuttle company with offices all over the USA. I just had to take the photo above of the setup as it looked like something that one would see in Mexico! Ready to move at any point.
Ahhhh, but the room was pure LA. The Double Tree Hotel in downtown formerly known as the Kyoto Grand. Large room, nice bed and lovely linens. The group I was meeting wasn't in LA yet so I decided to eat something since I had not eaten in about 24 hours. I went to the Azalea Room in the hotel and for the next 1 1/2 hours had a delightful lunch while talking to the waiters and manager of the restaurant. Since it was an "off time", there were only about eight people in the restaurant.
It turns out that all the waitstaff and the manager were from Mexico. The waiter was from Aguascalientes and was thrilled when I told him I had been there several years ago. He must have told the other waiters when he went to turn in my order because it became a real homecoming conversation for them to ask about this and that.
The manager confided he had managed the restaurant for twenty years but still has hopes of some day returning "home". I hear that often and understand.
Then the group arrived. My friend Bob, his two sons Patrick and Paul along with Jamie who is engaged to Patrick and Deidre who is soon to be engaged to Paul, I believe. A lovely, beyond words, family.
Since the group loves, loves, loves sushi, I knew we were heading that way. Yup, we ended up in the Japanese sector right near out hotel where we were able to find an outdoor cafe. Sushi was had by all with the exception of me since I had just finished my brunch.
The photo above was a woman with an adorable dog. Just had to throw this photo in. Too cute to pass up.
The plan was to stay in the hotel on Sunday night, head for the train early on Monday and head out of LA. But first we headed to a concert at a Guitar Shop named Mc Cabe's. Of course I had no idea what to expect. As we arrived an hour early, there were people lined up down the block waiting in line for the concert to start. Luckily we had reserved seating and were able to enter prior to that line. I was astounded at the number of people - especially after we got inside and I saw how small the place was. It is obviously one of those places sorta under the radar where the great musicians like to perform.
I mean small with fold up chairs and guitars hanging on the walls everywhere. This photo is blurry but it gives you an idea of the size! On the small stage were three or four chairs. That was it along with the sound system.
Remember, I knew very little about the four musicians who were going to be traveling with us for the week.
Oh my. A couple hours later, after dancing in my seat, sorta, I was awed by their collective talents.
It was a looooooooooong day. Mine had started at 2:30AM and returning to the hotel was around midnight. A bed never looked so good.
PLUS I had a BIG SURPRISE to share with one of the musicians that I could hardly wait to tell!
I'll tell you all about it tomorrow