|Tim, Angela and Tiriki|
As we made our way through immigration, the inspector took a long time staring at my fingerprints. "Have you ever been arrested?" He asked, to which I vehemontly shook my head. "Or applied for a visa?" Again, I replied in the negative and was then ushured to the Secondary Immigration room where I took a seat behind the glass window in the company of several that had been clearly detained because of their ethnic background and a few others that looked just as perplexed as me. Meanwhile, my husband was sent on his way and soon stood outside with our bags, hoping that he would see me again and that I would indeed be allowed to enter the country. As I was hiding nothing, I was not too panicked at this point, but I was confused and a little concerned. What if all my best laid plans were to never come to fruition? Would I be sent on the next plane back? Or worse? What was wrong with my fingerprints? After some time, my name was called, my passport returned to me with an apology and I was finally allowed into the country. Sans explaination, we can only assume that my fingerprints bore a superficial resemblance to someone else's.
Los Angeles seemed flatter than I expected, that is to say, outside of the central city, there were few high rise buildings and low Spanish style buildings seem to tbe the norm, interspersed with patches of low green scrub and the occasional palm tree.
Traffic was not as bad as I had feared - and my husband adapted very quickly to driving on the right side of the road. Alas, the great freeway web proved it a bit of a "challenge" and we quickly took an exit and chose to travel off the freeway to find our first night of accomodation - Jerry's Motel.
This modest motel was situated within easy walking distance of Pershian Square, and the central Los Angeles area. The rooms were well equipped with fridge, microwave, ensuite, flat screen tv and a large bed. Upon checking in we were giving a bag containing some granola bars, candy and some miniature cans of apple juice. Presumerably, this was the "continental breakfast", but as it came in a nice little gift bag, it felt rather like a "welcome to the USA".
After informing our parental units that we had arrived safely via Skype, we wandered into downtown LA. A surreal metropolis of towering glass buildings. Near the motel were two schools that looked more like prisons than educational facilities - high fences, bolted gates and harsh messages. Plastic bags and other litter accumulated in the gutters and the foliage - not in great amounts, but still enough to make the place look rather unkempt. We meandered past office buildings and a few stores, closed for the long weekend, wandering around Pershian square before finding a place to have lunch, or dinner... Our body clocks were all confused. There was little open, but we found a Mexican grill where I dined upon plantain, bean and cheese empandas (plump pastries) and followed them down with a watery hot chocolate. The place was overpriced, we later realised, but my empandas were quite nice, even if the chocolate was not.
Later that evening we drove down 3rd street to "the Grove" - a route that took us from relatively small, rundown shops to mansions within the space of a few blocks. Impressive houses lined the road, great sprawling mansions with well manicured gardens and quite lush foliage, given that this is the desert. The mall was very busy, and an open air affair aimed at probably what is a more upmarket cliental than our fine selves. We did visit our first (and what turned out to be only) Barnes and Noble - a multi-levelled store filled with literary delights, but this early in the journey it was definitely look, not buy - because we would need to carry it all home with us. We also paid a visit to Trader Joes, who despite selling an impressive array of organic produce did not have any mouthwash.
And then it was an early night - because the next day would take us to Vegas!