Wild Young Minds: Square dancing, Surfers and Santa Cruz

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Square dancing, Surfers and Santa Cruz

We just needed to get away from the city. Seriously, now, already? You've just been there for four weeks, you might think. Well, the city can be a bit overwhelming - even though I'm used to a busy life in Amsterdam - and friends had trips planned to national parks and Hawaii, so yes, we needed to go.
''We'' is Lavinia, my Italian roommate, and I. We knew little about Santa Cruz, aside from the fact that there was a beach, an amusement park and a big surfing scene. Not that we could surf, but well, you know what we mean ;) We took a bus, a train - the biggest train I've ever seen, God Bless America - and another bus. It took a while to get there and when we finally got there, we were surprised about the size of Santa Cruz. It was so tiny! We'd arranged a place to stay via Couchsurfing, but had to wait a little while before we could go there because our host, Spencer, was still at work in Big Sur.
No worries, because if there's a beach, one should go to the beach and that is exactly what we did. The view was typically American, a few big rollercoasters, a carousel, a grand casino and lots and lots of food stalls. From burgers to chocolate ice cream, there seemed to be only one condition: there had to be calories in the food! We've even seen fried cheese cake. Seriously?
We decided to go for falafel, because one can never eat too much falafel - this is what the nightlife in Amsterdam has taught me - and we needed to kill time and fill our stomaches. Afterwards, we bought a huge bottle of red wine and began our trip to the host home. Which turned out to be not that far and one of the cosiest houses I've ever slept in! We were welcomed by a group of guys who were just cooking dinner, by the cutest dog ever - except from my own of course - called Dingo, and by a lovely garden to sit and relax.
Sitting and relaxing is what we did for a while, but not for too long, because we needed to do some dancing! And not just dancing, real American square dancing. I'd only heard about line dancing before, but this type of dancing turned out to be a lot fun as well. We arrived a bit late in the church - cool right, dancing in a church - but were very welcome to join the group.

Square dancing is basically a dance for four couples arranged in a square, with one couple arranged on each side. We just had to listen to the instructions, but it was one big chaotic mess. I'm not the best dancer in general, and I had no clue what the technical terms meant. Neither did my partner or the rest of my group, so what it came down to was a lot of running around and trying to follow the instructions. And a lot of laughing too.
Aside from square dancing, there was more activity this weekend. Lavinia, the guys and I made a trip to UCSC (University of California Santa Cruz), which has the best campus ever. And I'm not turning into an American here. The campus was in the middle of the forest, surrounded by trees. There was also a trailer park where people actually lived. My dream house really, aside from the tree house, because it looked so hippie-like and cosy. After a short hike we went to Dog Beach, where dogs and surfers reside. I decided to show off my courageous side and went into the water. Cold! And dirty! But it felt refreshing as hell.
On Sunday we borrowed some bikes from one of the guys, and went for a ride along the coast. Finally! I could put my feet on the pedals again and move! Honestly, I miss my bike so much here in San Francisco, but unfortunately they cost a lot of money, the environment is not so bike-friendly and it so goddamn steep (I know I already told you that). So yeah, biking was a lot of fun and above all, magnificently beautiful.
In the afternoon we played some volleybal on the beach with our new friends. I wasn't too good - serving has never been my strength - but it sure was a lot of fun. We ate some delicious veggie taco's at a Taceria and had drinks with a couple of Dutch girls during the night. Yesterday, our short but most relaxed weekend trip had ended again and we made our way back to San Francisco.
Our first trip south was definitely all we could've wished for, especially thanks to the lovely guys that hosted us. We might meet again in San Francisco during Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, so that'd be amazing. It sounds silly, but I'm really thankful we've met them, because I can finally say that I've experienced a bit of the traditional Californian life. Taking it slow, leaving the door open at night and spending your days at the beach. Doesn't that sound like heaven? To be honest, a few days were just perfect for me, I need the city life and the speed of San Francisco, but everyone was very friendly and super, super chill. I know Dutch people use this word a lot, but they have no clue what it means, if they haven't experienced the Californian way of life! I can't wait for the other trips we're going to make this semester, starting with Oakland Pride next weekend. I'll keep you posted.

Love from San Francisco,


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