Thursday, October 13, 2011

San Francisco: The Mission

I visited the Mission, as advised by the Diana Kapp. I stayed with she and her husband David Singer in the Presidio Park--a very safe, sane corner of San Francisco, very close to the Golden Gate Bridge. They aren't allowed to mow the lawn, paint rooms in the house, or fix anything without telling the park rangers or whatever they are, who then come in and do it for them. The park was a military base in the late 1800s.

Walking through the mission reminded me of home. Home in Lawrence, Mass. Most of the signs were in Spanish, there were outdoor food markets, and I didn't fit in very well in my purple-and-pink patchwork skirt. But no one bothered me.

The main street that tourists visit was not the street I started on--here's Valencia Street, where some very expensive cafes live, charging $5 for one parfait, or $7 for a slice of pie! I walked in and out these places a lot. But this, this is a pirate store. It is awesome. There are booby traps, and drawers of rocks and soft things. There's a cabinet that says "oops!" and when opened a jumble of bouncy-balls fall out. The store is really a writing program for teens, and I guess the store just built up around it. The girl behind the counter said she started out helping with the writing program and gradually moved into the store. In the back there are tables with groups of teens gathered around, working on writing exercises. Oh, what I wouldn't give to have something that cool back home!

Welcome to Paxton Gate! This crazy shop full of bizarre taxidermied animals and plants, and strange books and other things. It was very cool. The store has been around for some 20 years, while another store I visited in Haight-Ashbury has only been around for a couple years. The other one was called "Loved to Death," and it had the same concept going, except it was a little darker, and much smaller. There were stuffed birds and mice dressed in doll clothing and sitting at dollhouse-sized kitchen tables with teeny plates and silverware.

On my way back to the bus, this street musician was singing. She sang in a shrill, almost painful voice, but she did it while balancing on the globe and playing the violin. It was a painful sight. Don't worry, I didn't just take the picture and bolt.

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