July 6, 2009

Busy, busy or How to See the Golden Bridge more than you ever wanted to in one weekend.

Friday was our official holiday.

A couple of months ago, Smart Girl and I made a list of adventures we wanted to do in the area. One of the items on our list was to hike or bike on Angel Island.

At 9:30 AM, Smart Girl and her husband, Mac Engineer picked us up. We tried to zip through San Francisco, but were trapped in an hour of stop and go traffic getting over the Golden Gate bridge. Which meant we arrived five minutes too late for the ferry from Tiburon to Angel Island. Knowing we had to wait 2 hours for the next one, we schlepped our picnic over to park next to the harbor. That turned out to be the perfect way to do it, cause then we didn't have to hike with picnic stuff.

Angel Island is the 'Ellis Island' of the west. From 1900 to 1940 the US did NOT want to admit Chinese and other Asian immigrants. Anyone who didn't have papers or a first class ticket was detained on Angel Island for 2-6 months before processing or deportation. The men were separated from their wives and children. All were kept inside overcrowded, dirty rooms (who wants to live in the third bunk? Anyone?). There was a European exercise area where whites were allowed to play baseball and hang out, vs the Asian area where they weren't allowed outside. You can see the male detention center below:
In my usual fashion, I made a really bad joke. Jrex and I tease around the edges of racial comments all the time. We're both comfortable with it, but we keep forgetting that other people may not be! Jrex was sitting on a wall in front of the Asian detention center and I took a picture of him while exclaiming, "Look, I brought my very own Asian for photos on Angel Island. I like to bring props for photo shoots." Jrex gave me his famous KDS (Korean Death Stare) while Mac Engineer just looked uncomfortable. . . . oops.

Saturday we picked up an Afghan woman for another day trip. One of my college friends, Big Heart has been living there for the past 5 years (check out his website: marigoldfund.org). He called to let me know a girl from his village was over here studying for the summer. Well, turns out she and her family are highly educated and mostly lived in Kabul with exceptions when the fighting was bad. Her English was excellent even though she's only been in the US for one year.

We asked her if she had anything she really wanted to see in San Francisco. Apparently, even as a child in Afghanistan, she wanted to go to San Francisco, particulary to the Golden Gate bridge. Back we went over the Golden Gate. There's a viewing platform on the other side and you can walk out onto the bridge. She was SO happy to be there.
Then she said she'd never been to the beach. At first we just watched as she played in the waves. After our picnic lunch, I went with her to dance on the edges of the tide. Our pants got soaked. I asked if she'd ever built a sand castle; she had no idea what I was talking about. So I showed her the basics and she had a great time.
We drove around the city to take in the sights, stopped in Chinatown, then dropped Jrex off to take the train home (so he could be with the mutt during the fireworks--she freaks out). Then I took her over to Berkeley for the fireworks on the pier. It was FREEZING!!!
The breeze blew straight from the Pacific through the Golden Gate and over the Bay to our faces. We both had scarves and ended up wearing them hijab style to stay warm. I definitely got some funny looks, but she was very happy to wear her hijab. She asked me to take pictures so she could send them to her mother.
Interesting trivia: she's from the Uzbek tribe, which is closely tied culturally with Arabs and Turks. The Taliban are Pashtuns, so their reign was not just religious oppression, but a reflection of tribal war.

Home by midnight.

Sunday? I collapsed and stayed in bed most of the day. I think I've become an introvert.


otrmama said...

Now you definitely have to read "1,000 splendid suns".

Rachel said...

Wow, busy weekend. I remember that awful traffic across the bay. So many lovely things in the Bay Area, but it's so hard to get to them. I love your story about the Afghan woman at the beach.

crajee chick said...

Hey Christie, can we connect via phone sometime soon? I need your advice about something... seongeun

OTRgirl said...

S: I would love to chat. My cell phone number is the same. Is yours? I still have your 443 number. Tonight or tomorrow could work.