It was a great visit, full of friends, good food, warm sunny weather, and all in all good times.
My first stop after taking the Flyaway from LAX was Union Station and Olvera Street.
With lots of architecture and historical buildings dating back to the founding of Los Angeles, I always enjoy hanging out at Olvera Street. The Mexican food is delicious, and the strolling musicians and shops bring back fond memories from going there in college and bringing my Spanish students there for a field trip using public transportation from Woodland Hills. I was surprised to see Mr. Churro (which has delicious churros with a variety of fillings) had moved, and there was also a new cafe on the corner which was really nice.
The next part of my trip was spending time in Pasadena and Eagle Rock. I stayed with friends in Pasadena, and they only live three blocks from the school where I taught kindergarten. I'm still in contact with some of the teachers there, and so I visited my students that are fourth graders now. They've grown so much (go figure) and it was rewarding to seeing how they are doing and catching up a bit with my former colleagues.
After that it was off to Eagle Rock via the Metro Rapid bus. I got to see the familar places: Swork coffee shop, Jamba Juice, Senor Fish, and of course Occidental. It was warm and sunny, and the walking around made me feel nostalgic.
The other highlights of the trip were visiting the Rose Bowl, the Americana in Glendale, hiking in Eaton Canyon, the good food, and just catching up with friends. It was so refreshing to be somewhere familiar and reconnect with the people that I haven't seen in a long time. Some people I saw during my last visit to California in November 2009, but one of my friends I hadn't seen since we both left Germany in July 2001.
My trip wouldn't have been complete without complications due to an impending snow storm. Around 9 at night I started putting two and two together, and I realized that US Airways allows you to change your ticket without any fees if there's a weather advisory. My flight was scheduled to leave at 11 in the morning and arrive at 7 at night, which was right in the middle of the heaviest forecast snow. I was too late to catch the redeyes that night, but luckily I was able to get on the 6:30 AM flight.
The next challenge was finding a way to the airport. One of my friends was working near LAX the following morning, but he only had to get in by 7 and couldn't get me there early enough to check in. After calling up multiple shuttle services and finding many without any availablity, I lucked out and found one, and it picked me up at 3 AM. I was at the airport by 4:15, and after waiting for security to open I got checked in and camped out at my gate.
The flight was surprisingly empty, and they needed to shift people from the front of the plane to the back in order to balance out the weight distribution. At first people were reluctant to move their seats, but there were plenty of empty window and aisle seats with empty seats next to them. Besides that the flight was uneventful.
I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles. I didn't get to catch up with everyone I wanted to or visit every place I wanted to, but it was such a wondeful feeling spending time with such great friends and being able to stay in contact with them.
Now I have one week until my return to Santiago on February 3rd.