Sunday, May 19, 2013

First Impressions

Excuse me're under arrest!
California has all sorts of people. We have had the chance to meet many of them on the road. Meeting others has been my favorite part of the trip. A few days ago Kenton and I arrived in Oxnard and we were excited to unfold another chapter of the adventure.

Once in the city we sat down on a bench by a large bus station. We pulled out the maps and tried to reorient ourselves. A large man about our age came to talk to us and offered us some illicit substances. We declined and he went away. Later he sat down about 10 feet from us and was met with two boys about the age of 15. The man pulled a small plastic bag out of his sock, and let the boys sniff it.  The boys smiled. Money and plastic bag exchanged hands and the boys ran off. Kenton and I just sat there wondering what to do. We had just witness a not-very-discreet drug deal go down. What do we do? Call the cops? Inform the  security guard who just watched the whole thing? Tackle the man to the ground and make a citizens arrest?

We continued on our way and met some other colorful figures along the road. The area of town we reached was not very nice nor did I feel safe there. I began thinking about how odd Kenton and I look. I love wearing our yellow shirts because cars can see us, but sometimes I feel like they make us stand out as targets in scary areas of town. I started getting nervous.

I usually don't like being in the city. I prefer the open country road riding. My first impressions of Oxnard were not good. I felt uncomfortable, and I wanted to get out.

This first impression of danger and drugs, thankfully, proved to be false.

Kenton and I planned our Oxnard day poorly and by 4:00 pm we were smack in the middle of city, 17 miles from a place to camp. This left us with not enough time to get out of the city and find a campsite for the night. We started looking at hotels. We found a Holiday Inn and went to ask the best rate. While waiting in line we talked to the people standing behind us about our trip. The hotel was pricey and gave no deal to us so we left to look for something else (we didn't need anything amazing. We sleep on the ground everyday. Just something better than a tent).

While standing outside the hotel and trying to think of other options the people who were behind us in line came and talked to us. They live down south a ways and offered to let us stay at their home Sunday night if we don't have a place to stay. Ok awesome and giving is that? These two people, who just met two sweaty guys with backpacks and boards, who didn't even know our names, offered to let us stay in their home. What amazing charity. Kenton and I were really touched. We got their number and might have a place to stay Sunday.

Kenton's family came to visit. They took us to dinner
and the waitress made a donation! Oxnard really
is a nice place.
Soon we got a hotel figured out, and on our way down I heard someone from a nearby car yelling to me. They asked what the sign on my backpack read. I gave them a pamphlet for our trip and they tossed me ten dollars. The light turned green and they drove off. Again we were so touched at the giving nature of these strangers.

Oxnard is starting to look like a happy place after all. and its the people that make it so. It reminded me of living in Romania. I lived in Bucharest for a year, and part of that time I was in Sector Five, right next to an area of town called Rahova, a scary dangerous part of the city. We couldn't get many of the locals to go there with us because it made them so scared. Scared of the people in Rahova, scared of being mugged or stabbed, things like that. Being new to the city I was scared as well. Over time though I met some of my best friends in Rahova, and they made it a joy to visit instead of a scary experience.

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