Discovering San Francisco
I will never forget my first morning in San Francisco.
On a chilly April night, I arrived by taxi to North Beach, the Italian district of San Francisco. Exhausted after a 13-hour plane trip, I fell asleep immediately in the colourfully named Green Tortoise Hostel.
I woke early the next morning, flabbergasted to see a heavy blanket of fog covering the entire city. Freezing, I took a stroll west to the wharf to get a glimpse of the Bay Bridge. As I walked toward the sea, the fog rose and, as if welcoming me to my golden city, the sun darted a thousand colours on the bay. Pink, golds, oranges: the ocean was a mirror of jewels. I sat on the dock of the bay, amazed at the sudden arrival of warm sunshine.
After only a week in my city, I had the good fortune to land a teaching job at a very fun school in North Beach. Our local organic coffee shop was a meeting point for an assortment of San Francisco residents, including vagabond artists, aspiring writers and business people. It was there that I met Byron, a writer who invited me to my first poetry reading.
The reading took place at Byron's loft in Russian Hill, a swanky district near downtown. New friendships blossomed with Byron's eclectic acquaintances: poets, painters and creators.
The following weeks were filled with San Francisco discoveries. Like an infant, I rode the cable car for fun, up and down those crazy hills that led to such spectacular views of the blue bay. I explored Golden Gate Park, a large green area of San Francisco that hosts the best Science museum in the United States, labyrinthine gardens and gaggles of drummers, roller-skaters and martial art experts.
More importantly, I found solidarity among my colleagues, true friendships with new pals and warmth from people who understood our mutual discovery: the resplendent city that is San Francisco.
One morning, I decided to trek the Presidio, a great natural and forested area that stretches from the Marina area of the city to Ocean Beach in the west. The area includes intriguing hikes with sweeping views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge. As I approached silver sands of Ocean Beach, I felt my heart beating the famous words of Rudyard Kipling, written so many years ago:
"San Francisco has only one drawback - ‘tis hard to leave."
At that moment, as I sat tranquilly on the beach, drinking in the surrounding nature, the sun and wind, the seagulls, the sparkling city behind me and the love I had found there…I knew, finally, I had come home.