Friday, January 29, 2016

We found gold in California

We went on the trip of a lifetime to my hometown in California. It really was the trip of a lifetime... something we've been dreaming about for years and something that might never be as magical and perfect as it was this time.

A friend told me there is a Japanese saying that goes, "Don't return to a place you've been happy before" (because it will only disappoint you with how changed it is...). But this trip didn't disappoint me. Some people and places were changed, some for the better and some for the worse, but it was still thrilling and fascinating to share my hometown, friends and family with my husband... who had never been to the US!

We started off in San Francisco, where Adelaide ate bacon for the first time (plus other yummy things) at IHOP, we saw the sea lions at Pier 39, went to mass at St. Peter and Paul's church, walked around Chinatown and other places.
Then we headed to Monterey and Carmel... the most beautiful and wonderful places in the world, wouldn't you say? I used to go there a lot growing up. We had lunch with a cousin, went to Carmel beach, were enchanted by the Carmel mission and its history, went to Monterey Wharf (of course!) and visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It costs 40$ per person to get in, but it is WORTH IT.
Finally, the moment we were waiting for... my hometown! Where we met with people I missed (and who hadn't met my new family) and where we learned this small town is now BOOMING. I hadn't been back in ten years... here's a little prayer so as that won't ever happen again. We did lots of fun things, mainly visiting with people. We also got to visit a kindergarten class, the oncology center, the high school and an almond ranch. (Did you know that California's central valley produces 80% of the world's almonds?) A highlight: tasting taco truck and it being just as good or even better than I remembered. And Daniel loving it just as much as I do. I only wish we had eaten there more times.
Then we headed to Sacramento, DA CAPITAL, to stay with my best friend from high school and her Chihuahua who was constantly tormented by Addie. We posed with Cesar Chavez (below), visited Old Town Sac, the Railroad Museum and got invited to dinner at a wonderful Indian family's house... that was delicious.
Finally, we stayed with some friends who live at Stanford and who have strangely similar characteristics to us: similar ages, oldest kids born days apart, they just had a baby and we're having one in June (oh yeah... surprise! I'm pregnant!), I studied theology and so did she, Portuguese and American mix, religious views, family views...
So even though we met them randomly in the Azores not that long ago, it seems as if our friendship was kind of "set up". ;) This is all to say, it was so great to stay with them and they are the most hospitable people ever... and we stayed with them even though they had just had a one-month-old baby! And even though it was a great way to finish off our trip, it made us all the sadder to leave!
Here's us with the Stanford trees...

Thank you California! And most importantly, thank you California friends who gave us the trip of a lifetime.

And now back to the daily grind, hard work and saving up for a future US trip... hopefully! ;)

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