Post traumatic latino recovery in LA

Having been disconnected from the civilized world for more than 5 months, we arrived back in the comparative normalcy of the United States ready to reconnect with a slightly less chaotic branch of humanity. We had chosen to make our foray back into the 1st world in the great bastion of American culture that is Los Angeles, in part because the flights there were cheaper than to Phoenix (where the RV was waiting for us in storage), but also because we were positively itching to explore the city we’d grown up watching on TV and in cinemas. And besides, we knew LA was just a little batshit crazy, providing the perfect opportunity to integrate ourselves back into high society from the chaos of Central America.

Civilised passport me versus ragtag post Central American me, as viewed by the US customs passport scanner. Notice any differences?

Civilised passport me versus ragtag post Central American me, as viewed by the US customs passport scanner. Notice any differences?

We touched down on March 17th, after a long trip from Managua, Nicaragua owing mostly to a horrendous layover in Houston where our connecting flight left without us, even though it was their fault that we were late in the first place. Equal blame lay on Spirit Airlines and Houston Airport itself, the officials of which refused to help us in our rush across the airport (and the usual infuriating American custom of needing to pick your bags up, take them through security, and check them back in again, even though it’s a connecting flight). One old coozer who was checking our passports for the 50th time even deliberately took longer when he found out we were in a hurry, to prove some sort of sad point to himself no doubt. Aargh, I can feel myself getting riled up just thinking about it, so lets end this digression shall we?

The freaking bag I paid $30USD for because it was oversize according to the website actually fit...sooo can I have my money back please?

The freaking bag I paid $30USD for online because it was oversize according to the website actually fit…sooo can I have my money back please?

Anyways, upon flying into LAX, we grabbed an Uber to our AirBnB digs in the suburb of Echo Park, dropped our bags, said hello to our hosts Andrew and Rae, and collapsed on the bed. It had been a ridiculously long day. The next morning, we lacked the energy to explore any of LA’s more distant attractions, so we opted to just muck around at home and go for a stroll down into the Echo Park neighbourhood.

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Echo Park had the feel of an up-and-coming Queen West (Toronto), and we went a little crazy shopping at NORMAL stores with NORMAL things and NORMAL service, having been starved of these formerly taken-for-granted things for so long. We spent a particularly inordinate amount of time and money in Lassens, a Whole Foods competitor whose aisles of glorious organic goods and high quality meats called to us like mermaids to dehydrated sailors.

The next day, we took a very long taxi ride down to Santa Monica to check out the famous LA beaches and allow Liivi to embark upon some fevered shopping. It was a cool area, and far less pretentious than either of us had envisaged, with broad pedestrian-only roads lined with classy stores, hip cafes, a shitload of weird and wacky buskers, and not far away a glorious view of the beach and Santa Monica Pier below. I even had my first sighting of a Baywatch-esque lifeguard hut.

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A few days later saw us exploring Venice Beach, a little further to the south of Santa Monica and a bit less polished. We strolled along the waterfront back towards Santa Monica, stopping off to enjoy obligatory artisanal ice cream, muck around on the impressive outdoor gym close to the pier, then walk under and across the actual pier itself.

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The next day saw us back in the same area yet again, this time for a professional photoshoot of Liivi for her business coach material. By this point, the Uber and Lyft bills were starting to rack up, and we were seriously regretting having elected to stay in far-off Echo Park. After a stellar photoshoot ending with some sunset shots on the beach, we finished the day off with a delicious dinner on famous Abbot Kinney Boulevard, and decided we should probably explore some other areas of LA.

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So, for the next couple of days, we did just that. We mosied on over to Hollywood Boulevard for the obligatory walk along the sidewalk to see all the stars in the pavement, took a taxi up to the world famous Griffith Observatory (which was awesome, by the way), then took a very long, hot walk across the hills (Liivi starting to get very displeased towards the end) to stand above the Hollywood sign and take in the impressive vistas of the city and sea all around.

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trying a failing miserably to reach that chill state, on account a rogue gust of dirty LA wind

trying and failing miserably to reach that chill state, on account a rogue gust of dirty LA wind

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As a fitting finale for our 10 day traipse across LA, we swallowed our pride and jumped on a tourist bus which offered a 2 hour commentated drive through Beverly Hills. Here, our hilarious oversized black driver gave us all the goss about the A-list celebrity houses we drove past and took a ridiculous number of essentially useless photos of. After two hours of hilarious commentary, plenty of ginormous houses, and sadly no celebrity sightings, we passed along Rodeo Drive (where all the who’s who of Hollywood go to buy their overpriced lattes and Chanel handbags) and finished up back on the Sunset Strip. 2 hours very well spent.

downtown Beverly Hills

downtown Beverly Hills

Cruisin through the BH burbs

Cruisin through the BH burbs

Apparently Justin Bieber's former residence. Whooooo!

Apparently Justin Bieber’s former residence. Truly, the highlight of our 1 year trip so far.

The next day, it was time to pack up our bags once more, say our farewells to our excellent hosts Andrew and Rae, and jump on a plane headed for Phoenix, where the RV had been rotting for half a year.

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