Turning the page

Dear future me,

How can you wish for something just two weeks before and drive you crazy in the present??!??

My friend from Holland came over to spend her vacation in warm California, although even in Los Angeles it doesn’t get really hot anymore in the winter. Normally. But I already figured out that nothing on my trip is normal, ordinary, business-as-usual. Ingrid needed a good time, away from all the stress, the worries and the rain in Holland and most of all, she tried to shed her bad luck in the past year. With less than two weeks on the clock, there shouldn’t be much time left to encounter any other demon on her path. Well….the system on the airport suddenly failed, so even though she was already in the country, it took nearly two hours to pass customs. On arrival at her hotel, she discovered that it was under renovation. No pool, no restaurant. Noise? Yes. Dust? Yes. Bicycles to rent? No. Close to the beach? No. I tried to counteract the effects of her unlucky charms, but failed miserably as it rubbed on me too. On the day I left my hostel for her hotel I got a ticket for parking in a unlawful way (while I was mimicking other bikes), lost my sunglasses on the road, discovered that my brand new jacket is falling apart while imitating Emmentaler cheese, and lost but not least, bumped my front wheel into a car (thankfully without a scratch). All within two hours. The only solution was to stay low profile for a while. The bike was left alone for a week and we hopped into buses to get somewhere. That is an accomplishment on its own, as LA is not well known for its public transportation. There are plenty of buses, but even more cars. And they all have to share the same road and anyone can immediately see that there are either too many cars or too little tar. In the end, everything does move sooner or later, so the buses did take us to see The Getty, The Art Museum and the busy sidewalks on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Disneyland was too far though, so we had to split up. My friend on her very expensive private tour and me – very happy again – on my loyal travel companion. Ten hours later, the smile on my face was still on after experiencing the (mild) thrill of the bumpy rides, flights and floats in this weird world. What a great way to spend Christmas Eve!

Somehow our luck seemed to change, as everything went very well. Just like it should be. Suddenly the weather folks on tv were predicting the warmest Christmas (ever?) in LA. What? The warmest place in the USA? What? Finally, my good luck seem to be on the winning hand and gave my friend and me a beautiful Christmas in a sunny and hot city of the angels. But just when my inner lucky charms were dancing their victory dance, they got shattered by the sound of an alarm bell. In the middle of the night, on Christmas day, the fire alarms of the hotel woke everybody up. As good civilians, we listened for the sound to vanish and went back to sleep again. No, I did peek outside for a minute, but my body shouted: sleep, sleep. My ears kept watch though and when I heard some strange splashing footsteps, I checked again. Only to find myself walking in the middle of a pool of water. As good civilians, we estimated how far the water would enter our room and then…. settled for going back to sleep. Who cares if the whole hotel turns into a big ocean! We are tired, we want to sleep. The next morning we did have to move though. I think that was the moment my inner lucky charms seized to exist and bad demons entered my body. They gave me a bad cold. So instead of feeling relaxed and clear when my friend left to go home, I felt stressed and feverish. I needed fresh air, literally and figurative, but the air quality in LA is miserable and all the millions of people were getting on my nerves. I had to get out of here!

But first I had to catch up with some other friends who were approaching Los Angeles. Azure and Roel, whom I met in Moab and Las Vegas, were here to pack their stuff for the return to Australia. They did a pretty good job in dodging me, as I never got to see them. I guess they were afraid that I would want to come along with them. Pretty realistic as I already had made plans to sneak myself in one of their cases and practiced my Houdini act over and over again. Thankfully, I got a second chance. Dave, whom I also met in Moab, was in the “area” (150 mile or 250 km further up the coast) and also goes to the land of Oz soon. He was more willing to come and see me. He grew up in the Santa Monica Mountains and showed me around. The canyons were awesome and we had a great time on the bikes. As this was my first trip in a while, I had to be reminded however of the common basis rules in motorcycling. One of them is to pay attention while you are riding. That can help you to stay on the bike, instead of flying off to an unknown world. So, for example, don’t just follow somebody on a very famous Mulholland drive and then start thinking (read: dreaming) about why it is a famous road. Instead, see with your eyes that it is a very winding road, downhill, where yellow signs tell you to slow down. If you just follow these basis rules, you don’t end up missing the corner and almost hitting another motorcycle on your path out. Well, at least I did obey one rule. The other biker came from the right side, so I let him go first….

Dave recognized that I needed some more practice, so he took me out again the next day. This time he showed me the grand tour around Los Angeles. I actually saw all the places I’ve visited in the last two weeks by bus and that’s why it felt like my goodbye tour. It was time to move on. I was ready to move on. And my lungs were definitely screaming to get the hell out of this smoggy place. So Dave and I pre-celebrated new year’s eve in an English pub with some nice beers and nice folks around. The traveler in me awoke again and I was very happy to have been able to spend the last days in the company of a fellow adventurer. He went back to his family and I left dazzling Santa Monica to find a more quiet place to spend the last evening of the year. I needed it, just to have nobody around and do nothing. Maybe not the most spectacular way of celebrating New Year’s eve, but I was content. The last two weeks didn’t give me my wanted space to rethink, relive and somehow internalize all the millions of experiences I gained over the last seven months. I am afraid that it’s gonna be a hell of a job when I go back home, but for now I have to repack all this mental baggage and carry it along for the next three months to come. So even if 2013 is officially over, I still have a big piece of it right here in my heart.

Time to turn the page and enter another great year: Happy 2014!

SYL,

Annemieke, 1 january 2014

Reacties 2

Charles 02-01-2014 17:17

Happy NY en doorgaan zo 'ie gaat lijkt me! Niks mis mee allemaal!

Loes 02-01-2014 22:44

Ha Annemiek,

De allerbeste wensen voor het nieuwe jaar. Dank voor al je verhalen en belevenissen. Stoer hoor! Bij ons etentje met het eetclubje hebben we nog wel even gesproken over jou. Toen was je erbij en nu moesten we het zonder je doen. Nog een goede voortzetting van je avontuur.

Groet,
Loes

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