Los Angeles Writing Retreat
It’s been a while since I checked in here. My last travel update is from 2021. At the time, I was posting about the monumental cemetery in Milan from Jacksonville, Florida, where we stayed with Daniel’s father to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s. Now, I’m writing from Oaxaca, Mexico about the two months we stayed in the area of Los Angeles.
Thanks to two kind, clever, funny, generous, and inspiring friends, Daniel and I lived in a house in Silver Lake. Our Los Angeles Writing Retreat. We worked on our manuscripts with a view of the mountains, which turned purple by the end of the day. Our kitchen possessed a haunted clock and a gorgeous antique stove and our bed was so big we had to look for each other in the morning. Dinners with our friends were full of laughter, chicken soup, and existential questions. Hummingbirds often hovered in front of the windows and we ate grapefruits and kumquata right off the trees in the yard. I hadn’t known that this city of highways, strip malls, and commercial bling, contained such beauty.
When the painters arrived to give the entire house a makeover, we moved to an apartment in Santa Monica. There we continued our Los Angeles Writing Retreat. Every other day, we hiked twenty blocks to the beach, crossed the Pacific Coast Highway, and walked with our feet in the water. On several occasions, we spotted dolphins and twice a pod of orcas on a frantic feeding spree. The ocean was too cold for swimming, at least for us, but the beach was lovely just the same.
On the days I didn’t descend to the coast, I roamed the parallel streets of Santa Monica, gawking at the villas and Montana Avenue boutiques. What would life be like if this were my home? Would I still enjoy traveling to rural villages and lodging in cabins? On a whim, I entered the gluten-free bakery, because someone who knows I cannot digest gluten kindly recommended it to me. One loaf of bread would cost me $22. I told the person who tried to sell it to me that I considered that to be too expensive. He said he agreed.
One day, Daniel and I took the metro from Santa Monica to Silver Lake to attend our friends’ Super Bowl party. I don’t watch sports, but I gladly make an exception to see a team—the Rams—play (and win!) the finals in their home town. The metro, probably designed to reduce traffic jams, wasn’t busy. Commuters preferred their cars because the people who did use the metro brought all their belongings in a shopping cart with them into the carriages. The City of Los Angeles counted 41K homeless people in 2020 and everyone we spoke to thinks that that population has grown drastically in the past two years. Due to COVID-19. And due to the same reason, there hasn’t yet been an official count. Traveling from the wealth of Santa Monica into the homelessness of Downtown LA is one of the starkest examples of inequality in the USA I have seen.
Mexico / High Desert
By late February, my visa-waiver expired, so after the Super Bowl, Daniel and I made plans to leave the country and move to Mexico. Why? Stay tuned for our experiences in Oaxaca, which was totally unknown to us until a week ago and may now be one of our favorite cities in the world.
Or should I first report on our excursion to the High Desert and Joshua Tree Park?