It has been an eventful weekend in California!
Friday was my “day off” for the week, and I spent my time in Palo Alto walking around the downtown area and getting the lay of the land since this is where I start staying June 15 through June 28. Friday afternoon Abby was able to finish work around 4, so we went and got our nails done, which we’ve only ever done 1 other time with each other. (Typically, Abby is not really the mani/pedi type gal. However, one of her friends in California recently got her hooked on pedicures. To that friend, I am forever grateful!) We then picked up Abby’s partner, Nathan, and spent the evening in San Jose. I got to meet Abby’s running partner and some other acquaintances that Abby knows through her running partner. We had dinner at a place called Sinos, which was a super fancy club-like Asian-American restaurant. Truthfully, the atmosphere was odd to me because the food was of a decently high quality, but the music was loud like a club and the seating arrangements were mostly comprised of little nooks of posh furniture where groups of people could cluster together. The “lounge” as I believe they prefer to be called was along Santana Row in San Jose, which is sort of like a fancy Clay Terrace (for all of my Indiana folks). It is basically and open-air mall of shops and restaurants. Overall Friday was a great day of rest.
Saturday I ran a few errands like buying postcards for my friends and family back home. Then, I headed to the La Honda fair where I was scheduled to work the Puente booth from noon until 4PM. The La Honda Fair was a fascinating experience because I got significant exposure to the La Honda locals at their finest haha! I actually had no idea what to expect because the term “fair” seems to be used relatively loosely. When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find a small meadow (privately owned) that had been opened up for the community to use. It included about 20-25 tents/booths housed by local businesses, non-profits, and artisans and a stage and “dance floor” area. Pretty much every hour brought with it a new sound from the stage, and the musicians were actually very good! Many of the musicians play in the larger cities but have roots in La Honda, so they come back each year to play at the La Honda Fair. Besides the funds that go to the artisans when people buy their goods, a large portion of the funds from the fair support the La Honda schools, in particular their art and music programs. I have to feel good about an event that supports public education and local students! A parent group from the elementary school was selling fresh tamales and rice and beans with a cilantro cabbage salad. It was delicious! I talked with some of the parents first inquiring as to whether or not they were teachers. They laughed and said that they were merely the people who produce the children that currently attend the school. One of the moms shared with me that the cabbage in the salad was grown in the school garden and that the students help tend to the garden and the fresh produce that comes from it. (How cool!) I shared with them that I was a teacher, so I was hugely supportive of the work that they were doing and shared that as teachers we are always so thankful for the help we get from parents. The parents asked me what grade I taught, and boy did they get a good laugh when I told them I taught high school seniors. They were pretty sure I was pulling their leg because they thought I looked like a high school senior. Dressed in cuffed jeans, Vans, and a Puente t-shirt, I can see why they might have thought that. I assured them that I don’t dress that casually when I teach so that I look a little more my age. J In addition to chatting with the elementary school parents, I also chatted with some individuals from the YMCA Camp in La Honda: Camp Jones Gulch. As a former YMCA camper of 8 years and staff person for 3 years, I had to share my love with the YMCA camp staff at the fair. The director of the camp in La Honda was familiar with the camp I went to as a kid and worked at throughout college. (Shout out YMCA Camp Tecumseh in Brookston, Indiana!) It was great to be around camp family; we are a unique breed especially when we are fully in camp-mode. I made a friendship bracelet at the Jones Gulch table to reminisce. My absolute FAVORITE part about the La Honda Fair on Saturday, though, is that I bought two handmade bracelets from a young girl (probably about 10) whose mother was my breakfast server multiple days last week at Costanoa. Because the restaurant wasn’t too busy during breakfast hours, I got to know my servers pretty well. This particular mother often asked me questions about teaching and where/what I taught, but on this particular morning she asked me what I was going to do that day since the weather was absolutely gorgeous outside! I told her that I was going to work at the La Honda Fair for Puente, and she got so excited because not only does she love Puente and the work they do, but she is a resident of La Honda. She told me that her daughter would be there selling bracelets, and I told her to make sure her daughter stopped by the Puente booth. I had probably only been at the Puente table for about 3 minutes when her daughter found me and sold me 2 bracelets. It was so great to support her daughter! (On Sunday morning she told me her daughter made more money from selling bracelets that day at the fair than she had made in tips haha! Good for her daughter! She’s quite the entrepreneur!)
Saturday evening I had dinner at Abby & Nathan’s with two people that are like pseudo-grandparents to Abby. They know each other through Abby’s church. We had a lovely dinner and I got briefed on how to care for Abby & Nathan’s three cats and garden while they are away for the next two weeks. After dinner, I headed back to Pescadero for my final night at Costanoa. (For those of you on Facebook & Twitter, you might have seen my “bunkmate” from that last night. I’ll repost a picture here. It totally gives me the creepy-crawly feeling every time I look at it. Literally I think this is the biggest spider I’ve ever seen. Ick.)
On Sunday, I checked out of Costanoa, drove Nathan to the airport (as Abby already left on a different flight), and then returned to the La Honda Fair for my final three hours of booth manning. Sunday was a bit different at the fair because many people were hung over from the night before and unlike Saturday I was at the Puente booth by myself. Being a new face (clearly not from La Honda), I attracted all kinds of unique individuals who asked all kinds of questions about Puente but really just wanted to know me. At one point, a particularly interesting man approached me and began a conversation about Puente and his life in La Honda. 45 minutes (and a slide show of pictures of farm animals on a cell phone) later, another local spotted me still in conversation with this same guy. He made eye contact with me, and I bore holes into his soul with my return look begging for help or relief from this man who was clearly not interested in leaving the Puente table any time soon and, in fact, had made his way behind the table to talk to me. Recognizing that the man that had been talking to me for about 45 minutes was new to town and not particularly representative of the greater La Honda population, the other gentleman came over and relieved me by asking all sorts of questions about Puente. It turns out, he is very good friends with some of the Puente staff and already knew all of the answers to the questions he was asking. I am so grateful for this person who recognized an awkward situation and did what it took to help a stranger. How about THAT for an #OAEproj tweet for the day???
I concluded my Sunday with a trip to the local Safeway in Palo Alto. It turns out, this isn’t a safety gear supply store; it’s a grocery store much like Kroger. (haha!) So I bought some milk and cereal to enjoy for breakfast this next week, and then commenced laundry back at Abby & Nathan’s apartment. Although it was not a particularly exciting Sunday night, it was good to rest and prepare for the week ahead as I have many responsibilities at Puente this week. Stay tuned for more!