June23rd 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
San Francisco’s Chinatown

Awoke and breakfasted on bread and jam, then struggled, with a good deal of pain, into the rucksack, and hobbled out of the motel and down the road, to find the ramp onto the 101, the main route into SF.  It was very hot, so we were very grateful for a lift – about 20 or 30 miles, with a Spanish speaking guy, so the conversation was limited.  After that, there were 2 or 3 tiny lifts, 3 or 4 miles each – each time, we thought we’d been dumped in an impossible place, but, as it turned out, there was never any problem.  It seemed we would never get to SF, but eventually a decent lift arrived, with a guy taking a couple of small boats up beyond SF in his pick-up.  He was quite friendly and interested, and dropped us right in the middle of the city.  We strolled down to the Marina area, buying our lunch on the way, and sat down there on a bench and ate it.  We chatted a little with a guy there – last name Chichester – who said he liked English accents.  Also rang up Nema’s sister, Meher, and she invited us over for dinner and to stay the following evening – very good news.  Then discovered the Youth Hostel was very close, so strolled over there.  Waited for it to open, only to discover it was full, so had to find alternative accommodation.  Decided upon Western hotel, at the other end of Downtown area, so caught a bus there.  Were fixed up quite easily, at $15 for a small room – just about enough space for a bed, a sink, and a chest of drawers.  Waited around for the afternoon snack – provided free!  Coffee and cakes – tho’ the cakes were basically pretty nasty.  Then went for a walk thro’ Chinatown and a bit of North Hill.  We ate a pancake roll at a small café – the food looked good and inexpensive, so we decided to explore eating out.  In the hotel, we met a German guy who was working delivering advertising junk.  It seemed that jobs were available, so we asked him to call us next morning – one had to be there by 5!  However, we decided that a no. of difficulties arose from starting a job so soon, so left a note postponing this, before slipping into slumberland.

Slumberland?  Good grief!  Anyway… Quite a description of the frustrations, as well as the bonuses, of hitch-hiking: regular feelings of desolation, followed by moments of elation when getting a ride, and then ongoing calculation while taking the ride – where would be we be dropped off, contingency plans – all while trying to maintain a conversation… or, in some cases, grab some sleep.

  1. Pamela J Blair

    Hi Chris,
    My stomping grounds! If any of this goes into the more formal book, it’s either North Beach or Nob Hill, but not North Hill. I’m enjoying following you across the country, especially all your hitchhiking adventures. Reminds me of my own experiences. I’m also thinking of copying you, day by day, the one segment of my trip into the Middle East. That’s where I got more disciplined about daily entries. I kept it up as I slowly moved down from Egypt to Tanzania, but the day before I left Tanzania (after working there a year), my house was burgled and my journal stolen! A painful lesson in letting go. Whatever was stored in my hippocampus is all I have now. By 80 (a week from today), those little lobes are getting pretty full!

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