They flew them in impossible arcs around each other’s heads while we waited at the train platform and created horrific midair collisions. I feel lucky to be able to watch them have so much fun together. The trick, of course, is not to let them know you’re watching.
We decided to walk to Fisherman’s Wharf instead.
They hung from this bizarre metal contraption that was connected to 8 little electronic drum pads. There were some directions nearby that said the monkeys were powered by the rhythm of people playing the drum pads. The more people playing in time with one another the faster they would turn. Once they got turning there were monkey masks you could put on that added a strobe light effect that made it look like the many monkeys were actually one monkey swinging from the trees. Interestingly enough from across the street it looked like they were actually moving as well.
Once we extricated the kids from the climbing sculpture we continued on to Fisherman’s Wharf with Coit Tower looking on from the west. We were hoping to find ice cream but there was some kind of meet the Disney characters thing going on so all of the indoor eateries were just packed. They had this enormous Christmas tree set up that upon closer examination proved to be real.
By now the kids were pretty tired and hungry too. We went to four different restaurants in search of beer for us and ice cream for the kids but all of the dessert menus were the same: tera misu and chocolate cake. It was like they all got their desserts from the same Cisco food rep. Finally we tried one last place where we were told yes we could have vanilla ice cream. The host said we could sit in the bar area where there was a guy playing piano and having a good time with the crowd.
Once everyone was recharged we had to figure out how to get to Chinatown. The kids loved Chinatown in New York and Montreal so we had to take them to San Francisco’s. We had planned the ice cream and beer as an appetizer. We thought about trying to take the streetcar and instead opted to go for a cab which my wife hailed quite expertly while I helped the kids across the street. The fare was literally a third of what it would have cost us to ride the streetcar. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse here but it’s hard not to see the price pointing on those things as a little exploitative.
We wandered around the glitz of Chinatown, red paper lanterns dangling from above, storefronts teeming with golden Buddhas or elaborate menus with vertical script. There was a lady making her way down the street with advertisements for one of the restaurants so we figured we would just go with that one. She had us follow her back to the place, turning off the main drag into a poorly lit alley where I had some brief concerns about safety and finally into the bustling little restaurant.
We were the only non-Asian people there which I think is always a good sign at a Chinese place.
By then we were starting to worry about the dogs who had been in the room all day. We walked from Chinatown to the BART stop that would take us back to the airport. Inside there was a number of homeless people sleeping on the floor, their blankets and sleeping bags wound around their dirty clothes like a mummy’s wraps. One of them was sleeping sitting upright in a corner next to the turnstile. A BART worker walked by and told him he couldn’t sleep there and had to move.
“Let me get my stuff together,” he barked and promptly went back to sleep.
Ava and the other kids have seen homeless people before but this situation made quite an impression on her. They’ve all had moments during the trip where they have lamented not having a home of their own, a room of their own, but they could tell that the situation these people faced was altogether different.
“But isn’t it dangerous to be homeless, don’t they get cold?”