a walk downtown

Happy Cinco de Mayo (on the Seis)

Yesterday, I went for a stroll around downtown Los Angeles. I got some great news at work, and then I wandered out into the 3 p.m. sunshine of this sometimes breezy and oh-so-sunny city. I just wasn’t quite ready to climb into the car and wind my way home, so I went a’walkin.

I’ve been meaning to explore the area of downtown that I drive to everyday, so I walked to City Hall—white and tall and imposing—and then up Hill St. and over to 3rd and then 4th and then diagonal across Pershing Square. I like that square. Great name, and lovely mix of tourists, bums, and an odd little corner of groomed dirt paths called, “Pet Care Center” that is eerily devoid of pets. There’s a nice central fountain, where I found a pair of European-looking men studying a fat Lonely Planet. Nothing like walking past a pair of capri-adorned foreigners to make you feel like you live somewhere.

I had been feeling a little blue earlier in the day because, as I was writing a funny cinco-de-mayo-themed email to a friend, in Spanish, I forgot how to say “mail.” Was totally stumped. Had to look it up online. This, and last year on the Cinco de Mayo, I was traipsing around Guatemala by myself, babbling in Spanish to rogue security guards at Tikal. Where oh where had my Spanish gone? And then I went for a walk around downtown L.A. and I found it, dispersed throughout this city, available for the taking if only I had the gall to go out and get it, to speak it. Through the garmet district and stores with tank-tops for a dollar and a woman on a microphone announcing the day’s specials (diez calcetines para dos! diez para dos, damas y caballeros!) I wandered into the Grand Central Market, a block-long column of comedors and vendors and dense, packed corner-stores full of spices and hot-sauces and 14 kinds of beans. Cafeteria counters with fried chicken and gooey pastas and cheesy beef, and rows and crates of fresh fruits and veggies, and men grouped around linoleum tables with dirty baseball hats, and an ice cream station manned by two teenage girls chismeando. It was the perfect place to go in L.A. on the Cinco de Mayo to remind myself that this city is not all freeways and Wilshire Blvd. I’ve got to make more of an effort to find this city, the one you see when you stroll around downtown.

I walked up to Bunker Hill, and it’s charming—or maybe I decided it would be simply because it’s named Bunker Hill—and so charmed was I by my stroll and the Biltmore Hotel and a cobblestone sidewalk that I spontaneously ducked into the leasing office of The Downtown Lofts. I’ll live here!, I decided. Perfect and perfectly found.

“When are you looking to move in?” asked the chipper man.

Well, what do you have?

“Well… I have a 600-square-foot unit vacating on June 1.”

Perfect! And, the rent?

“Let’s see. The one I have in mind is renting for $1,495. Would you like to see the unit?”

I didn’t, actually, so I continued my stroll, and then by 4 p.m. it was getting rather toasty, and I could sense the traffic building, so I drove home, and then drove to the gym, and then drove to drink a margarita with two lovely gals at a flammingly outlandish Mexican restaurant/bar in Silverlake. One $10 margarita later, I found myself ordering another in Spanish, and my, that was a lovely way to end my cinco. Olé!

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