Hello my dears,

In the last few days there has been a lot to do, which is why a few retrospectives have been delayed. Meanwhile I write to you from the sailboat on the British Virgin Islands, but the entry will be all about the last USA stations Palo Alto and San Francisco.

After Yosemite Park we decided to stay in a hotel before visiting Bonnie in Silicon Valley (Palo Alto). Bonnie and I know each other from our volunteer work at Faraja Center in Tanzania. When I was planning my trip, I promised I'd visit her in any case. So this was why finally the USA was added to the list of destinations.

The overnight stay was in Oakdale - which really has nothing to offer. So we went on the next day. At Google-Maps we found out where there are green areas on the way to Bonnie and then landed in Freemont. By chance we discovered the Tesla production site and landed in rich living areas, probably we were close to getting the attention of the police because I kept asking Markus to take photos of the houses from the car 😉

After another illustrious drive through the local industrial area we finally reached Coyote Hill Park. I am pretty sure that it is not well-known at all, but it was a very nice destination. On the horizon we could already see the skyline of San Francisco and the wind could almost keep up with the one in Iceland keep up. Our search for Mountain Lions, which are supposed to exist there, unfortunately was in vain again, but at least we saw deers, turkeys, ducks, herons and beavers.

Then we went on to Palo Alto. The reunion with Bonnie was wonderful. Bonnie was also one of the people who accompanied and supported me in my decision to go on this journey. We were invited to sleep in her daughter Zoe's room, who moved away to study. And another highlight: washing clothes after two weeks of camping and being outdoors.

The next day we set out to get to know Palo Alto and Bonnie's everyday life. In the morning we went with her to the YMCA Fitness Studio for training. She has been a fitness trainer for almost 30 years and I was really curious how the lessons would be with her. Luckily I was fit through my back rehab in Germany so that I could keep up. 😉 And since Bonnie lived away from Google and Facebook for 10-15 minutes, we went to Facebook to take an obligatory picture in front of my Facebook Like thumb. (Nerd fact: on the back of the thumb picture is an old segregated Sun Microsystems sign...)

The next day started with some fun, as I was able to attend Bonnie's Skype-Swahili lessons. Her Tanzanian Swahili teacher Zach is doing a great job and I'm thinking about taking online lessons too, when I get back to Germany. Since I learned a lot of Spanish with Markus during our vacation, the change to Swahili was a bit hard and the easiest words didn't come to my mind as my head was full of Spanish. But that also happened to me back in Tanzania, when I suddenly couldn't speak Spanish anymore and only Swahili came out of my mouth when I wanted to speak Spanish. The two languages seem to share a common area in my brain.... After the Swahili lesson, the fitness program continued. 75 min fitness with weight lifting and stretching. Apart from almost dying during the exercises, I enjoyed being there so much. You can imagine it as a mixture between fitness and a coffee party. The participants are super nice and during the exercises they chat and laugh as much as they can. When going out, Bonnie said that some of the ladies have been there since their start and that they have experienced weddings, divorces, births, deaths, job changes and many more, which bonds them together.

It was definitely great to get a taste of everyday American life. After the gym we wanted to go to the computer museum, but "unfortunately" this had to give way to a Victoria Secret visit. In the evening we explored the Google Campus. Here are some impressions:

I was curious about Silicon Valley. But I have to say that it didn't make a very spectacular impression on me. But maybe you only experience this if you really look into the companies. I can't judge that now 😉 The house rents are so abnormally high that some people sleep in vans on the street because they can't afford an apartment. Who knows, for the companies this may also be a good thing, if you can only afford a tiny and really not nice home, you probably prefer to stay at work much longer, especially since the food etc. is free...

Our next day led us in beautiful sunshine to San Francisco. @Silvi: I remembered our Girls Week in New York and I'm sure if you'd been in San Francisco we would have danced singing through the streets again...

Since my girls weren't there, Markus and I concentrated on normal sightseeing, with another tiny Victoria Secret detour to complete the previous day's shopping. . From Union Square we headed towards the harbour region passing beautiful piers to the - now be prepared - seals. I don't know if you need to know that in general, but I wouldn't have expected to find a large group of seals in the city.

Afterwards we went on to China Town and after a small lunch back to Palo Alto, because we had dinner at the sea with Bonnie and her husband Don. Our way led us to tiny little Pescadero to a super tasty restaurant: Duartes Tavern. Afterwards we went to the beach:

That evening we went to the cinema and watched 'A quiet place', which was a recommendation of Bonnie, who learns sign language besides Swahili and astronomy. And the film communicates almost exclusively by sign language. Bonnie is a very inspiring woman to me, who goes through life with a lot of enthusiasm and love, who is super active and interested, who tackles things even if she goes back to university at the end of her 50s. Yes, and that evening it was also time to say goodbye again. And for us it went on to Montara, a small village at the Pacific Ocean as a further starting point for further San Francisco excursions.

While the next day's sightseeing was very limited due to heavy rain, the following day and also the second last day of our trip to the USA was weather-wise very nice for us. We visited and drove through the famous serpentine-like Lombardstreet and then set off for the Golden Gate Bridge. After a great Asian take-away lunch on a park bench overlooking the bridge, we didn't miss to walk to the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge. Here are some impressions:

It was also interesting to take a look behind the scenes: Bonnie told us about the countless suicides jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, always on the side facing the city, and that the suicide rate among young people in the region is very high anyway, partly because there is a lot of pressure to succeed on all sides. So it's not "If you go to Harvard" but "When you go to Harvard"... So we had a completely different view of the fences and the emergency and counselling telephones on the bridge.

So our stay in San Francisco was over. I was saving a ride with one of the cable cars for a future visit to San Francisco.

Yes, and then he was already there, our day of departure. The morning we spent still beautifully with a visit at the beach further south of Montara. It was a wonderful place with almost no other people, a sea of flowers, wild waves of the Pacific and the view of a lighthouse. The perfect end to an incredibly beautiful journey.

The farewell part at the airport was of course all the more difficult. The only good thing was that we both flew that day and so I was able to get to the gate of Markus' flight. The stewardesses were a bit confused when we were saying goodbye for a long time and that I couldn't join on board.

After some tears had fallen and I had looked after Markus plane, four hours later also for me the journey went on. Destination Puerto Rico, where Katharina had already spent three days and would receive me.

About Puerto Rico I will probably tell you together with our sailing trip in about a week, because I don't think that I will have a lot of internet when sailing. 😉

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