Love at first sight (or almost) (PART I)

In 2009 I moved to a city called Pacifica in California. It is 20 minutes away from San Francisco.
I first went as an exchange student, to study at a Christian high school (which made no sense since I had graduated HS already here in Brazil).
I was supposed to be there for 6-8 months and ended up staying a little longer (almost 2 years).

Going to California was a big deal for me because of a series of reasons.

First and most important of them was that when I was 15, I went to my first exchange program. It was the biggest dream of my life, living in the USA, doing American things, going to an American high school… I started learning English when I was only 7-8 years old and going to class was my favorite activity. I am dead serious.

So when the opportunity came up for me to go live one year abroad, I took it. I was young and silly, and even though I am only 20 now, it feels like I’ve grown so much…learned so much…

I was way too excited about this travel and I wasn’t prepared for it, even though i thought I was, at the time.

All my friends went to the airport to say goodbye, they brought letters, signs, we all cried…
And instead of staying in Grand Junction (Colorado) for the 10 months I meant to, I ended up staying only 2 months and a half.
What happened? Well, that’s a whole new story and it needs its own post, so let’s just leave it for another day.

Grand Junction - Colorado.

Anyways, back to California.

One year after the whole Colorado let down, I decided to try again, to go back to the US.
This time, a lot more prepared, more mature, with a lot less expectations. A bit more cynical.

So it was January 2009, and no one went to the airport this time (besides my beautiful family, of course)  and I was 100% okay with that. I didn’t cry. I was calm. Happy.

And there I went,  took my boarding pass, my carry-on, my Mickey shaped pillow, hugged my parents and family, took a deep breath (after my mom reminded me to ”keep breathing” because, believe it or not, I do forget to sometimes…)  and said to myself before going through the airport security: ” Don’t look back”.

And I didn’t.

When I first got to the San Francisco International Airport, at 1:30AM, I saw a sign that said, in Portuguese, ‘welcome Luah!’ (Bem-vinda, Luah!). Who was holding it was an extremely tall girl called Martina. She was an exchange student from Italy.

She explained to me that the family who was supposed to pick me up so I could stay at their house, wouldn’t be able to do so–neither picking me up nor hosting me.
It surprised me, of course. So I stayed at the house Martina was staying at. It was the coordinator’s house (from the exchange program agency). His name was Orton and his wife’s, Marylin.

I went to my new room, after chatting a little with Orton and Martina, and went to sleep. Jet-lagged, homesick, scared.

On the next day, I met Orton’s wife and the other exchange student, Merve, from Turkey.

Those girls, later, became sisters to me. We didn’t go to the same school since I had a different visa than they did. They went to the ”cool” public school while I went to the boring Christian one (which wasn’t that boring. At least not all the time).
But we still talked a lot, laughed a lot, went places together, hung out with the other exchange students etc. It made my first months in a new country a lot easier and I am very grateful for them.

THIS IS TOO LONG ALREADY, so I’ll post photos and finish the story later tonight or tomorrow :)

View from my first home in Pacifica

Spirit week - Alma Heights Christian Academy

BBQ at the beach

First snow of my life :)

 
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Making drinks is an art!

LA FAMILLE .

In August 2011 I decided to go to Paris by myself. I had gotten some money from my grandma and all I could possibly want to spend it with was traveling.

I will talk more about this travel later on, about Couchsurfing etc.

I went to this bar with a couple of friends, close to where I was staying at. We walked up a big hill after we had already spent all day walking around…I was almost tired when my friend pointed to a black door and said ”This is it!”. At first, I’ll admit, I didn’t think it would be anything really special…but it’s just one of those places….kind of like, I don’t know, Narnia???

This one guy, Houcine, he’s behind the counter, and at first you think he’s making just a normal cocktail, but if you look carefully you’ll see so many different ”ingredients” like liquid nitrogen, tiny bowls filled with candy and chocolate, basil leaves….for a drink?

Yes.

I decided to get a Mojito. But it was a basil mango mojito.

I think that the fact that Houcine puts so much effort into this one cup of mojito (or any other amazing drink), is what makes it special. And honestly, absolutely delicious. The bar is called La Famille and it has a calm, fun environment; A great place to go with friends, spend a few hours trying all kinds of cocktails Houcine majestically creates.

The best part is that he is just the nicest guy, he goes up to your table and asks if everything is good ( modesty, huh!), suggests you try this drink, or that one…and he is always smiling.

On the way out, there were two things that called my attention:

1. Houcine offers a tiny little shot of  some sort of icee drink with that candy that explodes in your mouth, and it’s so much fun. (By then, everyone was drunk and it was more fun than it would normally be, I’m guessing…)

2. The small arcade Pac-Man machine. They say you’re supposed to drink at least 3 cocktails before playing it. You have three shots… I’m not sure what you get if you win because i obviously did not. haha

It was a great experience. Besides, you get to hear all that french and I don’t know about you, but it just makes me so happy…. it’s so…sexy. Haha

This is the address and phone, in case you are planning on going to Paris soon. It’s a MUST do.

Seriously.

41 Rue Des Trois Frères

Paris, Ile-de-France

(14) 252-1112

Aside