24 Hours in Baghdad by the Bay (USA Day 132)


We spent the morning around Mission Dolores park, watching a sunny San Francisco Sunday unfold in front of us. There were plenty of good dogs, which allowed for numerous rounds of ‘What’s That Good Dog Probably Called?’ which I recommend fiercely. Nearby, a large group of cheerful canvassers had congregated to celebrate ‘National Vote Andrew Yang Day’, which may have another year in it as a national holiday, but probably not two. Anyway, his policies seem fun and these guys loved him, so let’s see what happens. They had a large container of fried noodles, but I think it was only for the canvassers. I’d do many things for noodles, but probably not aid the election campaign of a presidential candidate.


We shuffled a few streets over to El Farolito, another of the recommended burrito joints, where after years of waiting I was presented with two monstrous beasts wrapped in tortilla, and a selection of spicy sauces. We sat on the ground in a small square, faces awash with delicious smush, watching two angry men argue in Spanish, until one pulled a walking stick on the other, then the other pulled an actual real life knife. Before anybody died, a bystander pushed one of the men and his wife into a lift to the subway, and then the argument became a bit one-sided. Our lunch continued, quieter now, but with the uneasy presence of a dozen Donald Trump pinatas swinging from the ceiling of the Mexican food store across the road.

Our afternoon’s activity, after a difficult cycle across town marred by the sheer heft of burrito in each of our stomachs, was a visit to the annual country music festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. It’s free, popular and very much worth a visit if you can time your vacation just right. Among tens of thousands of (mainly stoned) revellers, we slumped around Golden Gate Park, watching some really great acts and queueing for things. One of the last acts on a far stage sounded, from far off, pretty ropey. We couldn’t actually see the stage, and I suspected it was only a recording of last year’s event or something, so we sat nearby and didn’t pay much heed. ‘Not a great voice’ was my verdict. ‘Has promise’ – Amy. Turns out, that was Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant with his new bluegrass outfit. Maybe he’ll make it big some day.

So, tomorrow we leave San Francisco. We’re heading south, as far as Los Angeles, then plan to get a train to New Orleans and continue our tour in the south east. If anybody has toured in that region and has any recommendations, let me know. We’ll have three weeks or so before our visa runs out, and need to end up in Miami for the plane home.