Thursday, October 24, 2013

San Pedro

It sort of feels like we just arrived here... because of my two trips back East this month, I feel like I've barely settled in.  But it turns out we have only 16 more days here, before we decamp 45 minutes away to Irvine!  (this is going to feel like the most absurd packing-and-moving we've ever done.)

In any case, I'd better hurry up and write about San Pedro.

Our tour plan said Long Beach, but that's only a vague approximation of where we actually are.  (just like when they said we were in San Diego.)  Long Beach is about 10 miles away; we are, in fact, in the town of San Pedro, along the waterfront by the dockyards.  We have stunning floor-to-ceiling windows here which look out over thousands of shipping containers and cranes, and the occasional cruise ship.

Our apartment is beautiful, one of the nicest we've had.  (here's a picture of our living room at night.)  And we love that we are close enough to the site (2 miles) to be able to ride our bikes.

It's an odd neighborhood.  San Pedro is unlike any town I've ever lived in.  It's distinctly working-class, and distinctly Mexican.  By that I mean that most of the shops and restaurants are independently-owned Mexican-style businesses (bodegas, taco shops, etc.) and you hear Spanish spoken outside more often than English.

What fascinates me about the area is that, despite its un-gentrified quality, its lack of gourmet food stores / upscale boutiques and its proliferation of dollar stores / cheap groceries, there is nothing about it that feels particularly rough, poor, or dangerous.  The people here are astonishingly friendly - I am surprised on a near-daily basis by people striking up social conversations with me in public.  There are not a lot of homeless or scary-looking people out on the streets.  Everything seems quiet and civilized, and I think it is simply a well-functioning, blue-collar town.

There is not much shopping here.  And no Bikram Yoga.  I trekked out to Hermosa Beach for a class a couple of weeks ago, and almost didn't survive it - apparently Hermosa Beach prides itself on being the hottest Bikram studio in the area (or maybe anywhere?)   I didn't dare to ask how hot it actually was.   I think it's so hot because it has a very low ceiling, and no ventilation - it has the sickly sopping quality of some carpeted Bikram studios, the damp suffocating sweat that just fills the room, all day long, as classes run pretty much nonstop.  ....I'm going to try to make it back soon.

Today I attempted a bike ride.  I wanted to check out Long Beach, and Google Maps assured me there was an acceptable bike route.  Google Maps was very wrong.  Most of my ride looked like this (photo at right), riding on 6-lane highways, with tractor-trailers nearly running me off the road and gravel flying in my face.

9 miles later, I finally made it to a lovely bike path in Long Beach, which looked like this (below).

Much nicer!  But by that time I was pretty tired and had to start heading back home.  The unpleasantness of the whole ride convinced me that this is not a good area for cycling, at all.  Los Angeles, on a bike.  What was I thinking?  


  1. Sorry to hear of your traumatic biking experience! That is indeed a rough patch for biking. The best path stops just a bit north of you in Palos Verdes and runs all the way up the coast past Malibu. (That's my weekly ride). But it gets a bit sticky between Palos Verdes and Long Beach ... as you found out the hard way. :-( Saw the show last night, by the way ... Amazing, and your blog is the only source I've been able to find that actually names the performers in the show! A sad omission (although not unusual) on Cirque's part.

  2. Your description of that yoga studio made me wither in my seat. Yuck.

  3. :) Tammy, I have to agree. I went back once more, and decided no more. I usually love Bikram, but this place was too much. When the idea of jumping out the 3rd-story window just to escape the class starts to sound really appealing, something's wrong there.