Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Day 5: Downtown LA and South Pasadena

2.11.2011

Day 5: Downtown LA and South Pasadena

Today took me back to my old place employment, the Los Angeles School of Global Studies, where I helped open the school and teach a Digital Production/Multimedia program for three years before I moved to Ohio. Personally, this would be the last time that I will be returning to that school as many of the students that I had taught are graduating at the end of this school year. I met for lunch with my old co-worker and took a tour of the campus. Before we went across the street for some authentic Mexican food, I was mobbed by many seniors that were shocked to find out that I was visiting from Ohio. I was very surprised how many students actually recognized me and it was heartwarming to see how many of them will be graduating and moving on to bigger and greater things.

What saddened me was the condition of the building that I had seen as a pristine new campus only five years ago. The school had changed so much that I didn't recognize it anymore. Thanks to LAUSD budget cuts on custodians and teachers getting pink slips/layoffs, the faculty was completely new and the hallways looked like a dilapidated mess. I took a glimpse of my old classroom and saw how little it resembled the technology oasis that I created when I still taught there.

My old school is located inside the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex. The white building to the left is the headquarters to the Los Angeles Unified School district, the second-largest school district in the United States and a shining beacon of corrupt bureaucracy amidst the Downtown LA skyline.
Here's the door to my classroom. I am proud to say that I was the very first teacher to instruct in that room. Perhaps someday I may return to this profession.
My old co-worker and I walked across the street to a small Mexican food establishment that had reopened there recently. For a few minutes I was back in a place where English wasn't the predominant language. I was even served a big cup of horchata (sweet rice drink with cinnamon) with my meal that consisted of pollo de la plancha (grilled chicken), refried beans, and rice with slices of avocado on top. Mexican restaurants in Ohio, please take note: you're not a legit Mexican restaurant if you don't serve horchata. Coke products are not the solution to everything. 

Some of the best Mexican food comes from small holes in the wall where you need to know Spanish to know what the heck they're making.
CA avocados are just garnish here, not an extra charge.
After lunch, we headed back to campus and I hung around until 2:30PM, seeing even more students and some of the co-workers I wanted to actually say hello to. I then hopped on the motorcycle and headed on the CA-60 East freeway to East LA to meet another old co-worker who now taught at Garfield High School. We traversed down Atlantic Ave. into the city of Monterey Park for some catching up and Starbucks. After that she led me down the road to South Pasadena so I could meet up with another friend from USC.

Here's my old co-worker Lorraine with the bike and her Scion XB. In LA, I can recognize that car from anywhere.
She returns the favor and captures a shot of me before we part ways in South Pasadena!
I like to call my old friend from USC "the one with the fuzzies." As an animal lover and activist she lives with a variety of animals ranging from a pair of Chow Chows, a cat, a ferret, and a (haired) rat! I guess there is never such thing as having too many fuzzy animals. Her mom invited me to a delicious, home-cooked dinner where I had a hearty combination of pan seared halibut, vegan beef stew (the "beef" is grain-based, but I couldn't tell!), and brown rice. We then ran a few errands and spent a few hours catching up on our adventures.

For as long as I've lived in CA, I never spent enough time in Pasadena to consider it familiar territory. Thanks to that, took the roundabout way home after getting on the wrong end of the 210 freeway (San Fernando) near the Rose Bowl. The detour took me down the CA-2 Glendale freeway where temps dropped into the 40s (the coldest it's been during this entire trip) before I landed back on 5 South and eventually onto the 110 South Harbor Freeway. It was worth it though; the view of Downtown LA against the clear night sky from the hills of La Ca├▒ada Flintridge was spectacular.

Day 6 (Friday) will take me back to the high school I graduated from, the California Academy of Math and Science in Carson and the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, a place I called my hockey home for over a decade. Perhaps a stop at L&L's Hawaiian BBQ in Torrance too, the last official eatery in my catch-up agenda.