Los Angeles is warming up, like a big winter beast shaking off the shivers and mists to reveal a wonderfully temperate, overly inviting city.
I'd never really thought much about this city before I got here, like what it was *really* going to be like. I knew about the palm trees, the strip malls and the Hollywood sign, but that was about it. As we traveled across America no one really had anything nice to say about it - and I can understand that. My first week in I thought it was very industrial, this big touristy machine, looming out tacky attractions and tour buses.
Then we started to scratch the surface - we moved into Los Feliz, a neighbourhood bustling with artisan business ventures, quaint restaurants and vintage movie cinemas. And that extends into at least four or five neighborhoods around us - they're all these hipster-driven, creative-living, farmers-market hubbubs of activity and interest. It's wonderful to see LA's cultural side, tucked away from the tourists and cheesy roadside stop-offs.
This morning I got into the car to drive into Santa Monica - a good 45 minute drive on any day, a city of its own, even though it is surrounded by the city of LA. The freeways twist through the coastal hills, and with the sunshine breaking through disappearing clouds, the traffic-filled road glowed with summer sunshine.
This is a good place to live. A friend was reminding me yesterday that even though LA sometimes gets a bad rap, it is part of California - free-loving, beach-filled, happy-go-lucky California. I feel privileged and happy and excited to get to live here, for however long we may stay.
[Photos by the ever-talented Jo Galloway, another South African living in LA, who is as lovely as she is kind]