I get a request for my couch on Friday for a Tuesday arrival. I check my calendar and I will be good to host them until Friday at noon when I have a dentist appointment. I am under the impression that Jonas, traveling with two friends, will be three guys coming, but on Monday he signs with the names Jonas, Charlotta (a girl’s name), and Paul in an email. They will arrive Tuesday around 12:30 pm while I am walking the dogs – I figured they would. I knew it was them when I saw a red van with things on top stop and turn around to park across the street from my house.
Introductions are made – people and dogs, and the conversation flows. We walk in the house, take a seat, and talk for two hours. They are on a west coast tour of the United States after finishing up with their work visas at Lake Louise where they worked in customer service, the kitchen, and moving inventory. They skied and rode a dog sled. They already toured from New York to Miami. They have seen more of North America than most people I know that live here and they are all only 20 years old – born in 1993.
They stayed in a hostel in downtown San Diego last night after visiting Sunset Cliffs and climbing the stairs of the Convention Center after a drive from L.A. Our first stop will be Imperial Beach where we will walk from the jetty to the pier. On the way out the door from my house they notice a red flag on my mailbox and inquire about it. They are surprised to learn its purpose and I’m happy to be there to teach them something new.
The States are a melting pot of other languages. This makes it easier for me to understand some of their terms. Seeing my block clock on the wall from Germany they help me count to ten – ein, zwei, drei, vier, funf, sechs, sieben, acht, neun, zehn. All cultures have names for things, but I feel that the Germans have kept it simplified as my guests seem to be surprised at all the extra names we have for simple things. At the beach we will learn about the hardness of kelp and test how much body weight it takes to break open a bulb.
We get to the pier and walk to the end. I get to see the new boards that have been laid as they inquire about the cost and use of such a structure. I agree it is expensive to maintain piers (I was telling them about the one in Huntington Beach that has been rebuilt multiple times), but also fun for fishers, tourists, locals, and buskers. We walk back to the house and then I drive them down to Gaslamp Quarter where we will search for dinner.
An hour of searching and we end at Royal Thai Cuisine on 5th Ave. I order a Thai tea and drunken noodles – veggies, chili, and fried tofu. We do some more exploring while making our way to Seaport Village. We find a playground and a wall with poetry by Quincy Troupe. We get to admire the architecture, the gardens, people walking their pets, sculptures, and signs. They are surprised to learn that ‘that’s a long walk’ in American means more than a block or two – a lot of people are driving around looking for a closer parking spot while we are walking around learning and having fun – something popular in Germany along with taking the train – a frequent and mostly reliable source of transportation.
Amongst the shops they look for postcards to mail home, stickers for the van, and other souvenirs they may want. We have fun trying on sunglasses and testing everything against the UV light in the Del Sol store – this time I buy the blue plumeria earrings. We walk along the water, past the 25-foot tall bronze statue of a ‘couple‘ kissing near the USS Midway Museum, and get lost beyond the construction. We watch a man catch a fish on the rocks, see a group of kayakers go by in the water, and get passed by multitudes of people running on the sidewalk preparing for the R&R Marathon.
We make our way across the train tracks and by a pay lot where we agree the slots for bills should be larger making it faster and easier to pay the $17 flat rate. We walk back to the car parked at 8th Ave and B St. We would’ve parked elsewhere, but we noticed the hour-only parking and we needed two. We go to the store for chips and drinks and return home to stay up until after 1:30 am when Jonas passes out – only pictures were taken, and then we went to sleep too.