I think I am in culture shock. Okay maybe not shock, but like a stuck in the middle of two cultures, swimming around trying to hold on to those familiar things in two countries that I now call home. In Mexico, I miss the comforts of home. I miss sushi and Thai food, all Asian food actually. I miss cold foggy mornings that I need to wear a comfy warm sweater to keep warm and drink hot coffee while walking Byron. I miss sleeping under the weight of soft blankets and feeling cozy. But when I do make a return trip to the motherland, I find myself yearning for things in Mexico, refried beans with my scrambled eggs, the sound of church bells, the joyful giggles of children on the beach. I miss the simplicity of life, the smaller portions at restaurants and that bottled salsa I am now addicted to and put on everything.
The past couple weeks, I have felt this strange cultural longing. One of my closest friends and my roommate of 5 years during my time in college, was getting married in Los Angeles.
Before the trip to LA I took a rode trip to
visit with my grandma up in the little town of Rough and Ready. It was nice to catch up with her and to celebrate her 87th birthday.
I also took a couple days in Fresno before the wedding to visit another very close friend from college named Ricky. He and his fiancé Stephanie had just bought and moved into their first house. My dad and Carie joined me also. I love visiting Ricky. I always instantly feel a part of his big happy family. I used to take road trips and visit him years ago. There would always be a big barbecue and lots of good times at the Ortega household. It was in Fresno that I first ate from a taco truck and had refried beans with my scrambled eggs in the morning. Perhaps that is where it began for me. Seeing Ricky and his family again was so awesome. We ate amazing food that Stephanie made from scratch. I’m talking about homemade apple pies, waffles, biscuits, fried chicken, ribs, on and on. I am never hungry at Ricky’s, but I am always looking forward to the next meal. After a couple days of catching up, it
was time to say our goodbyes. I can’t wait to visit them again when we move back to the states.
So after Fresno, my mom and I flew to LA a couple days before the wedding. We rented a bungalow from VRBO in West Hollywood. Being a native Northern Californian, I have my reservations about Southern California, but it was nice to visit and be a tourist for a few days. We went on the Warner Brothers “VIP” Studio Tour, which was actually pretty fun. We got to see many sound stages and props and such. We also went to Universal Studio’s Citywalk to go see Pixar’s UP in 3D. What a great movie. Be sure to go see it if you haven’t.
On the night before the wedding, the fathers of the groom, Evan, held a very special dinner at famed restaurant, Ortolan. They had hired the whole restaurant for the occasion. It was just gorgeous. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling over each table, white curtains covered the walls, it was just stunning. We moved to the bar where the party was starting and that’s when I saw Caroline for the first time in three years. She
The amazing night-before-wedding restaurant
was radiant. Her happiness was so apparent. I mean she really just glowed in that dark little bar. She quickly walked over to me and gave me a giant hug. Tears ran down her eyes as we hugged and laughed together all in a moment of pure joy. I feel happiness very often in my life. I always feel blessed about that. But this kind of joy was the kind you carry with you for a long time. After our greeting, I introduced my mom to all of Caroline’s family. I used to also stay with Caroline’s family years before. What can I say, I love road trips and traveling.
The meal we had was the best I have ever had in my whole life. It was 9 courses long. 10 if you count the little cookies at the end. Some highlights were salmon sashimi in a wine glass with lemongrass sorbet on top with lemon foam, foie gras with white asparagus and fried gnocchi, fish wrapped in zucchini flowers and an orange sauce, and strawberry caviar over vanilla panna cotta, all with wine pairings. By the end of the meal, we were so full that it was painful,
but man was it worth it.
The next day was the wedding. Caroline was stunning. The dress she picked out couldn’t have been more perfect and she looked like she was from a fairytale. Caroline and Evan were both often moved to tears throughout the whole evening. They were so happy. I also got to see another good friend from college named Tom. He and his girlfriend had just gotten back from a trip to Morocco. The wedding was a blast. We danced and danced. The wedding cake was made of a bunch of small cupcakes, which was adorable. We had a great time.
And now, I am back to the little town in Bucerias, Mexico. The weather is very hot. I already miss the cool California climate, but it nice to have my feet sandy again. Ronnie and Byron were both thrilled to have us home. Mom came down to Mexico with me and my Auntie Linda is joining us on Friday. And so the summer fiesta begins!
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