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Jasmine Dispatch

A San Francisco Treat

A San Francisco Treat
For the past week life has swirled around me with a whirlwind of activity here in San Francisco. I've been packing, meeting tons of new people, making new friends, bidding farewell to friends and family back home, and making sure I'm healthy and fit for a world trek. The cool thing is that it's finally here--I leave for Mali to join the team soon. Can you believe it?

I'm originally from Compton, California, near Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. I used to live next door to Michael Jackson. OK, not really, but I saw him once if that counts. LA really is a star-studded town. I sat next to Mark Curry (you know, "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper") on the plane to LA from San Francisco, a very funny guy, and totally down to earth, too.

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Ah, the city where I left my heart
Los Angeles is a fun place to live because there's always something to do. The weather's great and there are sunny, sandy beaches all over the place. There's something for everyone in LA: museums; movies; concerts; amusement parks; and shopping galore. The culture in LA is really what makes it such a beautiful town. You can find almost any race or nationality there, and you don't have to travel far to experience any one you choose. There's Leimert Park, the cultural and art Mecca for African-Americans. LA has Chinatown, Koreatown and Olivera Street, which is rich in Latin culture. There is much, much more, including the food. You can find any kind of food you can imagine. Overall, I'd give LA an A+; it's a definite "must visit". P.S. - You might just want to be prepared for earthquakes. You never know when the big one might rock the town.

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This Governor is poppin'!
San Francisco's been great, too. This was my first time visiting northern California and what an experience it's been. First I visited Old Sacramento, where my cousins and I visited shops on a horse-drawn carriage, much like the ones of the Old West days when California was first settled. That was great. We had brunch on a riverboat and went to see a dog bakery that I'd read about. Yes, a bakery just for dogs with fresh gourmet dog biscuits, warm and chewy, mmm-mmm-good.

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A kernel from the Popcorn Theater
Then I hopped on a train to San Francisco where I met my new friends at The Odyssey. My first night in town was an unforgettable evening of Popcorn Theatre. We traveled on a tour bus guided by "The Governor of Popcorn Theater", "The Gov". He took us to various places throughout the city, a junkyard and a riverbank underneath a bridge for example, where people performed interesting poetry and skits for us. It was a little weird, but very memorable. Later that weekend we had a totally vegetarian Bar-B-Que, awesome, with yummy tofu dogs and veggie burgers grilled to perfection, (OK, they were a little crispy, but tasty nonetheless.)

The windowfront at The Bible Store
So imagine me walking through San Francisco with my giant purple backpack, trying to keep from tipping over, practicing for the trek. I might have stood out or looked a little weird in some towns, but not in San Francisco. This city is known for its eccentricity (an SAT word for weird). So after being semi-lost for a few hours, I finally found the store I was looking for and was on my way back downtown. I hopped on the first bus smoking and instantly hit it off with the driver. Talk about a great person to bump into while you're traveling. His name is Jasper McCargo II, and I ended up riding on his line just talking and sightseeing for hours. I toured the city, down bustling Market Street, up Haight Street (very cool), to the Sunset area and back. If you've never visited San Francisco, you're missing the most majestic view ever; you're standing on the top of a hill overlooking the city in one direction and the Bay all around it. It's beautiful. I mean totally breathtaking.

It turned out that Jasper was not just a bus driver and a fabulous person. He is also a Minister and the owner of The Bible Store. At age twelve, Jasper's son, Jasper III, is the manager of this Bible bookstore in the Bayview area of San Francisco; and, boy, does he know his Bible. His father is preparing the young businessman for a bright future. Not to worry, though, young Jasper's not all work and no play. Between his busy school and work schedule he always has time for baseball. I also happened to hear that he's got a pitch that's out of this world. This father and son team was a dynamic duo and I was totally impressed when I went to visit the store.

I look forward to meeting a million more people as wonderful as Jasper and my new Odyssey friends throughout the trek, and I hope that you'll stay around to meet them too. Please be sure to keep in contact with me. I look forward to hearing from you all.

For now, Bon Voyage. See you in Mali!!!


The Team - Let's go to Cameroon, NOT!
Abeja - Next Stop Slavery - A Visit to an African Holding Pen
Kavitha - Accra...or Brooklyn? The African Diaspora
Kevin - It's a Hard Day's Night
Monica - The People on the Bus Go Up and Down...To Ghana and Burkina Faso

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