Travel Log: Ciudad Juarez (01/30/15)

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Today I woke up at 7:00 A.M to get ready to go to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The interesting thing about Juarez is its colorful and notorious history. Over the past few years probably from 2012 and prior, Juarez had a high murder rate due to high levels of gang violence directed at civilians. This would lead people to call Juarez a Serial Killer’s Playground. That alone actually makes me nervous every time we go to Juarez.

But with that aside, I got up and took a shower then went to eat breakfast. The breakfast was actually pretty good since it had real good hash browns. There was also bacon and scrambled eggs but that hash brown man. I ended up not eating a lot. I just got a bit of everything with a cup of coffee and carton of chocolate milk. On TV were a bunch of pundits speculating on Mitt Romney’s bid for presidency. Therefore, it was a speculation of a speculation. After eating, I went back to the room to get ready to leave. The time by this point was 8:40 A.M.

After we left the hotel we went to meet with our friends in their hotel, which was about three to five miles away. When we got there we noticed that there were a lot of police near the lobby. Some of the police were even armed with M-16 assault riffles. To be honest I never did find out the official reason they were there. Besides from this, this particular hotel looked fairly nice too since I used the bathroom inside. After meeting up with our friends we went to Juarez.

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Going to Juarez was fairly interesting. Its always weird to cross the boarder away from the U.S into another country. It’s a change of scenery, culture, and governance. The scenery of Juarez itself reminded me of the Philippines since it was crowded and fairly third world looking. Also the transportation system is a bunch of these colorful school buses. Some buses look more modern than the school buses. Because of this I’d imagine that the reason why there is no standardization in the buses is because they are not public and therefore privatized by different companies and people.

The first place we stopped at in Juarez was actually at a parking area near the rotary statue with a good view of the grande Mexican flag. We waited here for our guide to the house we were supposed to go to. It didn’t take to long for our guide to get there. We then headed to the house we were supposed to go to. Once there I met RJ the son of the minister in Juarez and we made small talk with the other ministers there. We then eventually left to go to the different stores for food. I got to ride with Bro. Doug and RJ.

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The first store we went to was actually this local tamale restaurant. We went here mainly to order the tamales for the dinner later in store after the bible study. But, while we were here I got to try their chicken tamale and this very interesting guava drink. The tamale itself was real good as was expected from a tamale shop in Mexico. It blows those tamales from gas stations in Texas way out of the water. But the most memorable part was the interesting guava drink. The drink itself was served hot. But the consistency is hard to describe. It was think with a little guava pulp in it. I believe it was thickened with some sort of corn flour or maybe corn starch. Whatever it was made the drink really unique. In terms of taste, the natural guava flavor came out on top and really propelled the drink into its own league.

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After the tamale shop we went to this farmers market looking place. A funny thing here is that since we rode on separate cars, we got here way a head of the other car. Because of this, we waited for a bit then thought they got lost or went somewhere else. We then actually left and circled the area for a bit in hopes of finding the other car. When we gave up we came back and a bit to our surprise they were there. I guess it just took them a while to get there. But once inside it was really interesting and colorful in a way. It was colorful due to the different products I’ve never heard of before. It was also interesting because they had this bucket of cheese rounds that I’ve only seen on TV beforehand. The crazy thing was that they had this cheese round with a knife in it so you could try it or buy it by the kg. I tried it and the cheese itself was most similar to mozzarella but with only a faint mozzarella taste. After this my dad told me to buy a small cheese round. For a bit I was worried since I wasn’t sure how much it would cost. But when I got up to the cashier she said that it was a bit over 1 kg and therefore cost $7.35 USD. It was actually a good deal considering a small slice of cheese in America would cost the same amount.
After this I looked around the store, and the way everything was in bulk kind of reminded me of a small Costco in a way. But I heard from AJ’s dad that the place was kind of like a grocery outlet where manufactures would sell overstock. But after looking at some things, I decided to get these Mexican snickers made of that De La Rosa stuff instead of nougat. Actually, I haven’t tried them yet but hopefully they are good. After that, I also got myself some spicy peanuts that I always see sidewalk merchants trying to sell. Both of these things cost about $3.00 USD. When we were about to leave we packed up Bro Doug’s truck with these heavy bags of beans. We then secured the truck and went back to the house.

At the house we unloaded those heavy bags of beans. I’m not sure of their exact weight but I wouldn’t be surprised if they weighed a hundred or more pounds. Afterward we went to Bro Doug’s house to actually jam band. Never in my life would I expect to jam band in Mexico! We played with this really talented drummer which for the life of me I cannot remember his name. It was actually a lot of fun and time went by quickly. I think around this time it was 2:30 P.M.

We then went back to the house, which for me by this moment felt like the event was starting. It felt like it was starting here since because everyone was there. What was cool was that I met a new sister named Hannah from Copperas Cove. She is actually pretty and I found out she happens to be a girl genius that’s thirteen in college. I then quickly started taking photos of everyone packing together the different outreach bags with beans, noodles, and other goodies.

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It took some time to complete everything and I believe we finished packing all the bags and left for the venue around 3:30 P.M. The venue itself was in an interesting part of town. It looked a bit more destitute than the other side of the bridge where we came from. It’s hard to describe how much more destitute it looked by all the houses were small, bunched together, and all in need of extensive repair. All the houses and buildings in this area were drab in color and any part that could be rusted was rusted. There also seemed to be a lot of catholic symbolism everywhere. There were paintings of saints and other religious figures hanging on broken houses and broken windows. The main road itself was pocked full of potholes. Also for the most part, roads leading to the houses where nonexistent and were only dirt paved paths. It wasn’t pretty in this area.

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But when we got to the venue, the local people immediately greeted us. They were incredibly nice and actually easily approachable. I remember this little old lady coming out of this house with big barking dogs and she was the kindest person you’ll meet in this side of Juarez. I also remember a bunch of the visitors actually waiting just outside the venue. They were all really nice and seemed happy to be waiting in the freezing weather to go inside. The venue itself seemed to look like some sort of community gym. The ground was cleared of all the gym equipment and in its stead were the chairs. The gym equipment were all to the side.
At this point of time I started taking as much photos and videos as I could. I started on the inside and worked my way outside and back inside. When I went outside I greeted more of the locals who were coming to our event. They were all nice. It was around this time where I also met Sis Sheryl who is a member in the Juarez locale. I then finished up the camerawork on the outside since it was starting to rain hard and get dark. When I checked my watch it was already 4:15 P.M. In my head I thought the bible study started already but it would actually start at 5:00 P.M. Throughout this entire time until the end of the bible study I was taking pictures and videos of the event.

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(From left: Hannah, Me, AJ, Drummer Guy)

Afterwards, I asked AJ to help me get some interviews done. We ended up getting two interviews finished, which was really good and more than I could have done by myself. AJ and me would then chat for a bit and meet up with Hannah and the drummer to chat a bit more. Around this time we then started to pack up shop and start to leave. Apart of me did not want the night to end already and wished we could have all hanged out together a bit longer. But as the saying goes, time and tide wait for no man.

When we left the venue we then stopped by the house one more time to make sure everything is accounted for and then we all went on our merry way. Leaving Juarez wasn’t too bad. The border crossing went fairly smooth, the only sucky part was that our lane switched its open sign to closed and that got us stuck in line limbo for a while. Finally, when we did get to the border patrol officer he did one of those random checks where we had to stop the engine and he had to look inside the car. It wasn’t too bad but consumed a bit of time. From that point and now I was basically writing this. We just passed Hatch, NM home of the famous Hatch Chile. We should be in Albuquerque in two to three hours. From there it should be a good six to seven hours home.

Update: The drive from Albuquerque onward was a bit interesting. Around the Santa Fe-Las Vegas area it was actually snowing a lot. We had to drive around 50 MPH when the normal speed was 75 MPG. Afterwards, in the Raton area it became super foggy. It was so foggy you couldn’t even see some of the turns properly. The fog started to life somewhere down the Raton Pass thankfully. But the rest of the drive home was quiet and fairly well.

Movie Review: Why Don’t You Play In Hell?

Summary: an incredible movie about making movies.

Review: Why Don’t You Play In Hell? is possibly one of Sion Sono’s best films to date. The actual film was released in 2013 in Japan but was only officially translated and released in the U.S recently. Why Don’t… is a bit different from the usual psychological horror known by Sono such as Suicide Circle, Cold Fish, or Strange Circus. This alone elevates Why Don’t… easily above Sono’s previous work since its so different from his usual fair. Instead of the avant garde psychological horrors, what we get is a crazy genre bending film that pays homage to old school Bruce Lee films while retaining Sono’s signature avant garde take.

In terms of storyline its much more than just a filmmaker embroiled between two yakuza clans. There are subplots that branch two different time periods in an incredibly meaningful way. This is due to the fact that the movie was shot in a present setting and also setting ten years in the past. Furthermore, the different subplots mentioned previously, not only branch the two time periods but also help in character development. By the end of the film you become incredibly attached to each character which makes the ending all the more impactful.

In terms of characters, we have the aspiring group of filmmakers whose dreams are to make a 35mm full length movie. This group is consisted of the leader, the two camera people, and “the next Bruce Lee”. We also have the yakuza family that consists of the head of the yakuza, the mother, and the daughter. They are central to why the movie becomes filmed in the first place. We also have the poor fool that gets caught in the crossfire so to speak. However, he’s not random since he is also affected between the different parties ten years in the past. We also have the leader of the rival yakuza gang with a colorful personality that contrasts the more serious personality of the main yakuza leader. With all these characters, its hard to connect them all between different time periods but the way Sono stitches together the two time periods is simple yet incredibly thought provoking. It allows us to examine each character separately and also see how the different personalities react when faced with each other. The end result is incredibly satisfying and rewarding to the viewer.

With this in mind, we could see that Why Don’t… is an incredibly story based movie. However, the soundtrack and film composition is still top notch. The songs always highlight the action on film and serve to enhance the experience. Also, there is a sort of theme song from a commercial that actually becomes one of the characters motto and a literal theme to the movie. In terms of film composition, there is some experimentation by Sono to highlight portions in the film. In one scene Sono uses a character’s drug high as a means to create a delightfully colourful and intriguing scene that is sure to be memorable among viewers. Also, being a Sono film there are also avant garde scenes that I will not spoil. But I will mention that they are not as crazy as in Strange Circus but that these scenes either add to the experience or leave you with a good amount of mystery to keep you guessing.

Overall, Why Don’t You Play In Hell? is easily one of Sion Sono’s memorable films and will keep you inspired as well as guessing to what Sono’s trying to tell. It will keep you inspired in terms of wanting to reach your dreams no matter how difficult or how long it will take. It will also keep you guessing since it is a Sono film. But, we should remember that Sono made this film as a homage to older films and probably also to other aspiring filmmakers too.

Rating: 5/5 (classic)

Travel Log: 01/06/15 (Dallas to Colorado Springs)

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Today I woke up around 7:15 A.M to go to the pool. It was very nice since I was there by myself. I hit the hot pool first and then jumped straight into the normal pool. The shock from the difference in temperature woke me up pretty well. I then swam for a bit and hit the hot pool again before going to the room. At the room I took a shower and got ready to eat breakfast. I went to eat breakfast with my little sister. It was interesting since someone burnt the toaster earlier. Because of this, they had all the doors open with an industrial fan blowing out the back door. We actually ate near this fan at the back of the room. For breakfast I remember making a waffle. The only thing I didn’t like was when the waffle was done it was stuck to the cast iron. The waffle was supposed to look like Texas but ended up looing mega mangled. Oh well, it still tasted good. I also got some scrambled eggs, bacon, and a muffin. I remember also getting a banana and milk carton. I wanted coffee but there was no coffee available at the moment. While my sister, and me were eating our food, Raven the manager said hi to us. Perhaps it was in response to the burnt toast but it was real nice of her to do so anyways. Afterwards, they removed the big fan and got the coffee out. I quickly filled up my thermos when I found out. After eating, I got some muffins and chocolate milk to bring back to the room. Back in the room we quickly got ready to head out.
By the time we left the hotel it was around 9:30 A.M. We first went to the other hotel to rendezvous with our friends so we could all head out to Colorado together. At that hotel I actually needed to use the bathroom right away. When I checked their restrooms it was locked. One was a Men’s room and the Second was a Women’s room. I was desperate enough to try both. I asked the front desk for the keys but said it was only a one-person bathroom. Because of this, I took a chance and waited a few minutes. But it took a ridiculously long time, I actually swear I heard someone washing their hands and use the hand dryer but they never came out! I wonder what they’re doing in there? Oh well, I decided to run to the Motel 6 across the street and asked the manager if I can use the bathroom. He agreed and let me use the bathroom right away with someone who had the keys! Thank goodness for Motel 6! Afterwards we got on our way back to Colorado.

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Dallas itself is a beautiful and huge city. It has a spider web of freeways that make the city resemble a maze of sorts. It was sad leaving it but oh well. Our first stop was at a gas station in Bowie, TX. It was an interesting gas station since it was like a mini tourist store of sorts. There was a bunch of different Texas memorabilia. In fact, my parents got some cowboy boots here lol! I myself used the bathroom and got some postcards. While getting some postcards I talked to the cahier for a bit. Her name was Kierra (key-are-uh). She had blonde hair, blue eyes, and a confederate flag necklace. I don’t know what the Confederate flag meant to her since she was so nice to me and had a cute smile. I sort of wished I got to know her better but oh well.

After Bowie we made a stop about thirty miles later to the Pecan Shed at Henrietta, TX. The Pecan Shed is always a favorite stop of my mom when we are in the area. Its nice too since they have pecan coffee! The coffee itself seems to be a light roast with a slight pecan undertone that prevails over the tangy taste of lighter roasts. Overall, its very good and I recommend it if you get to visit. I also got to try some samples of different pecans they had in store. They were all good and one that stuck out was the white chocolate covered pecan. I also remember getting some postcards here as well. After the Pecan Shed it was a fairly straight drive to Amarillo.
But before getting to Amarillo we did make two stops at rest areas. The first was near Chillicothe, TX. This was a fairly small but nice rest area. We used the bathroom and I remember bringing my little sister to the playground there. At the playground we met a kid named Jayce. He seemed like a cool kid and friendly too. Afterwards we had to leave. From this point our second rest stop was near Clarendon, TX. It was a slightly bigger rest area than the previous rest area. I walked around the premises to take some pictures and did some pull ups at the playground here. Afterwards we got on down to Amarillo.

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At Amarillo we made a stop at Rudy’s for dinner and gas. I filled up the tank with gas and parked the car. After I parked I took some more pictures of the surrounding. I then went inside to see what everyone else is up to. When inside I used the bathroom and checked with my family. Everything seemed to be going well. I was also looking for one of the waitresses I saw from last time but I think she was off today. But I did see a new one and she was very cute. Brunette hair with blue eyes, I hope I never forget her. I had a few chances to talk to her at that point but I was fairly nervous. At this point our food arrived and I ate quite a bit of bbq. It consisted of pulled pork, brisket, ribs, sausages, creamed corn, and beans. It was very filling and very good. When we finished eating my dad asked for coffee and it was my opportunity to talk to that one girl. When I got the coffee, the coffee pot was still dripping in coffee. I thought it was a pressure plate so I could just lift the coffee pot out. But it wasn’t a pressure plated. Thankfully the girl was there and we did an Indiana Jones style switch off of an empty pot with the full pot. I made a joke about and she really laughed from it. I always like it whenever girls have a sense of humor. Her name was Kat and she was born and raised in Amarillo, TX. She told me that she was getting bored of being in the city and wished she could get out. Kat mentioned that the town was a everybody knows everybody kind of thing. Even though we talked for a little bit I really enjoyed our conversation and wished we got to talk longer before I left.

After we left we took the back road out of Amarillo to Dalhart. This time the back road was not iced, thank goodness. Because of this the trip to Dalhart was fairly quick. At Dalhart we made a stop at the Juan Burrito gas station as usual to use the bathroom and get gas. From here we went straight to the rest area near Trinidad, CO. A funny story before we got to this rest area was at Raton, NM. There we missed out exit and had to make a U-turn before going to a wrong exit and having to drive monster truck style out of it and into the right one lol! But back at the rest area we noticed a sign that said free trolley rides and trout fishing in Trinidad. That’s pretty cool! Hopefully we get to try those things out some day. Afterwards we drove to Colorado City to get some gas. After this we headed home. Actually, as I write we are still on the road close to Colorado Springs.

Travel Log: 01/04/15 Colorado Springs to Dallas

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Today I woke up early at 7:45 A.M to get ready for church. After church we got ready for a trip to Dallas from Colorado Springs. When we started driving it was around 2:30 P.M. We headed South on I-25 and made our first stop at Colorado City, which is about an hour or so South of Colorado Springs. While at the gas station I went inside to fill my thermos with coffee. There was only one worker inside the station and it was a fairly big one for one worker. She was mopping the store. When I filled my thermos I asked her how much it was going to be. She was still mopping and said that the coffee was on the house. Specifically, she said that I got the “dirty floor special” since she was busy mopping the floor. It was a very kind gesture and funny too. Afterwards, we headed further South into New Mexico. We stopped at a gas station in Raton city to use the bathroom. I took a picture at the outside of the station since it was very beautiful outside. Inside the gas station I also got myself a few postcards. Afterwards, we drove East into Texas. Our first stop was at the town of Dalhart. At this point it should be mentioned that there was actually a big deal of snow throughout this area of Texas. Actually, after our stop in Dalhart I drove all the way to Wichita Falls. It was notable that on the back road between Dalhart and Amarillo it was super icey on the road. Usually the speed limit in the area was around 70 MPH but since the road was icy I was averaging around 45-55 MPH. It felt like we were on that back road for an eternity. It was freezing and to be honest I was actually scared driving in that road. Even when we got out of the back road and into Amarillo I still felt nervous. However, after we got back on the freeway and hit Claude I felt better. At Claude we stopped at the Cefco gas station which is almost a tradition to stop at. Afterwards we got on the road for two hundred or so miles until Wichita Falls. Here, we stopped at the Love’s gas station. From here it was practically a straight drive through to Dallas. Dallas itself is a huge city and the freeway system resembles a maze. At some points there’s exits that simultaneously exit to the right, left, and then split the freeway through the middle. After navigating the freeway we eventually got to the hotel where we stayed for a while.

New Acoustic Indie Folk Musician “American Diner”

Above is a song I wrote under the name “American Diner”. The song itself is about traveling, coffee, and the town of Claude, TX.

American Diner is a moniker I choose for a music project that revolved around an indie-folk type sound. The first EP I will be releasing is called “Coffee Eyes” and should be out in its entirety sometime by the end of the year or so. Please check it out! And if you like what you hear I invite you to like the facebook page I have up for it at

facebook.com/americandinermusic

Stay tuned for more news about American Diner.

Village Evangelical Mission: Grand Junction

Today was a very interesting and long day. It started when I woke up around 8:00 AM to get breakfast. Aramaine went with me to get breakfast. For breakfast I got two pieces of sausage, two biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, and coffee! It was a very filling and somewhat satisfying breakfast. Before I went back to the room, I grabbed three pieces of this crumb cake and a fourth piece of cinnamon crumb cake. They were actually really good. When I got back to the room, we started to get ready to go to the Angeles household to start with the day’s event. We left the hotel around 9:00AM I believe. On our way there, we got a bit lost, but I got to see Mesa State University. It looked really nice and made me wonder what kind of people go there. Afterwards, we turned back around and found the right street. When we arrived at the Angeles house, Mecko, Bro. Maclaine, and others were there already. It was really cool to see everyone there. It was unfortunate that Karen, Angelica and Vanessa were not there yet. But, other than that, I went with my dad and Bro. Ernie to see the venue where the village evangelical mission was going to be held.

It was about one to two miles away from the Angeles house. The surrounding neighborhood looked similar to Colorado Springs; except everything was closer together and there only two lanes on each side making everything look closer. I noticed that they had a Hastings, which was unfair. But, when we got to the venue it was interesting and a bit different from what I expected. It was interesting because it was a homeless shelter. I was actually imagining a Hall or Community Center. It was also different because the inside was a bit smaller in terms of lobby, serving area, and main room. Well, I guess the lobby was normal sized. But, the serving area was literally a pantry that we would improvise later as a serving area. The main room felt a bit cramped, especially with seventy percent of the room being filled with beds and bunk beds. It made me wonder about how we were going to pull off seating everyone and actually holding our bible study. After getting a tour of the area by the managers, we went outside to post up banners. We posted both of them near the entrance of the facility, using double sided tape. Afterwards we headed back to the Angeles household.

When we got back, everyone was there and I saw Julia this time. For the most part, Julia, Mecko, and I talked about different things until we ate lunch. At lunchtime, there was a lot of food prepared by the brethren. It astonished me in a way. I ate a lot lumpia and bar-b-que. It was very good food too. We then all talked for a bit longer. I remember at this point, Aramaine and Levieson were becoming restless and misbehaving. Thankfully that played a Celine Dion DVD and it gave everyone something to watch. It also made Aramaine and Levieson be quiet for a bit. But, around 2:00 P.M brethren from Colorado Springs started to come over. It was Anthony, Bro Darlo and everyone. It was really cool to see everyone there. At this point it started to feel like the Juarez trip all over again. Especially, when we started to transfer things to the next household to bag. At this point, we were carrying water, supplies, and food from the house to a U-haul storage car and other cars. At this point we all then moved to the next house where it would seem the event would have its official start.

When we arrived to the house of the brethren, we quickly unloaded the supplies and started bagging all the supplies. At this point also, I started taking pictures of everything I believed to be important. It was an interesting task and something that I would not forget, especially since I would have to do this task throughout the whole event. We bagged all the supplies fairly quickly even though we made more than a hundred of them. Around this time, Bro Maclaine showed me how to use his camera to make videos and do interviews. It was an interesting session and really did make me feel like I was learning something. Afterwards, we finished up the bagging and started to put in the bags into the U-Haul storage car. It was around this time Karen and Angelica came by. It must have been around 3:30 or 4:00 P.M. Afterwards, I went with Bro. Ernie to go to the venue. When we got there it we all quickly unloaded the chairs and coolers out of the U-Haul storage and kept the bags inside of it. Afterwards, I actually got to meet Bro. Randy of Grand Junction.

He was a very interesting person that I met. Bro. Randy was born in Ohio and moved to Wyoming. This was all before he went to Vietnam. While in Vietnam Bro. Randy served in communications. He worked on base and was also sent out to the fields. I wanted to ask what happened over there, but I didn’t want him to remember whatever hardship or atrocities he experienced out there. He said he never did forget what happened over there. He said it felt like it was yesterday. And only memories of the deepest sort feel like it happened yesterday. After Vietnam, his family was in New Mexico where he started to work in the coalmines over there. Bro. Randy told me about how he and his friend would always meet up at a diner to get coffee. He said that the truckers who would stop by, eating good food, wearing good clothes, meeting new people, and traveling to new places, inspired him. Soon after, he said he started taking up classes in Denver and got stationed in Grand Junction on accident since one of the other new truckers didn’t want to get stationed in Grand Junction since they just came from there. Bro. Randy told me he traveled a large part of the U.S as a trucker with the exception of a few States such as Alaska, Hawaii, and the northeastern states such as New York. He said he was also a driver for a tourist agency that allowed him to do a lot more as a driver. He said wherever the customers would go, he would go, and whatever the customers would do, he would do for free. Afterwards, he told me that he owns a trucking company that leases to American Propane and he also trains student drivers as well. Currently he is about to baptize, hopefully sooner rather than later. After that, he has plans to retire in Sacramento where he will be spending time with the brethren that invited him to the Church in the first place. I believe her name was Sis. Estralita or Litha for short.

After meeting Bro Randy, I went inside the venue to check what was happening and help out. We started to fix up the lobby as well by clearing out the middle section of unneeded tables and chairs. We also started setting up the serving area by putting tables up where they could efficiently set up the different foods and plates. After this, I went to check how Bro Maclaine and Sis Julia were doing the introduction video. I also heard from Bro. Bernie that he needed a tie and subsequently I introduced him to Bro Randy. Bro Randy offered to help by calling Bro Ernie if he could bring an extra tie in which he actually did. It was an interesting scenario to watch play out as a third party observer. Afterwards, I helped Bro. Maclaine set up inside by getting the chords he needed from a box full of stuff, including a multi-effects peddle! It was here I learned Bro Maclaine plays the guitar. But afterwards, there was still time to kill before the event started. I talked to a few people.

Some of the people I talked to included these girls from California. They were at the homeless shelter to volunteer as a part of their church. Their names were Spoetzel, Bittle, and Miner. They all had interesting names that made them stick out. They were all surprisingly beautiful and made me even more surprised on why they were there. They said they were there as a part of a mission. In this mission they would have to spend eighteen months in a foreign place to teach and volunteer when they can. Specifically, they would have to do it in places where they could speak Spanish. They were all here without any social media or Internet in general. They also had to all share a cell-phone together where they could call family. It was interesting to see what kind of stuff they had to do. But before I left, I gave them a couple of the God’s Message magazine.

Afterwards, I talked with Mecko, his sister, and Julia for a bit until the event started. We talked about different things and time went by quickly. It wasn’t too long before we had to separate ways to get ready for the bible study. Before the bible study happened, I went inside the main room where the bible study was going to be held. I talked to some of the homeless people there. I talked shortly with one named Kevin, he was thankful for our help and seemed interested in the bible study. I then talked to another person named Shawn.

Shawn wasn’t really homeless. He was born in a small town in Ohio before moving to Los Angeles in California. He said he spent most of his life in L.A. But, he’s in Grand Junction for a trial due to drug charges. When I met him, it was his first night in Grand Junction and I guess it was the only real place he could stay for any extended time. He was a real nice guy and you wouldn’t believe his story until you met him

I soon helped the brethren set up the main room by setting up chairs for the choir members, folding up tables that were not needed, and setting up chairs for the congregation. I could already feel the tension rising with the bible study starting soon. After, I took my opportunity to take the pictures that I could. I then went out to talk to more people. One of them was a guy who actually wasn’t homeless or jobless but a guy who takes advantage of the free meals at the homeless shelter. For the life of me I cannot remember his name but I remember he told me it was his payday and that he works at an aquatics place nearby.

The other person I met was Memo from Juarez, Mexico. Memo was a very interesting person because he himself wasn’t homeless but a traveler of sorts. He said his job back in Mexico allows him to take months off for vacation. He takes his time by visiting family across the United States via Greyhound. He chooses to stay at homeless shelters, especially since they are basically places to stay with meals included. But back in his life in Juarez, he grew up and lived outside of the city and in a small village. Memo told me that there was no police or government in the area. He said he loved it that way and didn’t like the corrupt government in the city. In his village he told me that he owns a ranch and travels the area by horse. It was really astonishing when I heard that; it painted pictures of hard but interesting work in rural Mexico. Memo told me that around this time in September until November there are a lot of fiestas in his area. He said a lot of tourists come and the people of Mexico generally welcome them. But Memo also told me the unfortunate tragedy that happened to his family. Twelve years ago, Memo had a wife and child in his village. His wife’s name was Guadalupe and from what Memo told me, she was the love of his life. However, his wife and child were killed. Memo told me that his wife may be dead physically but she will always be in him in memory and spirit. Memo will be staying in Grand Junction for a few more days before heading to Denver and the rest of his travels.

I soon went inside the main room and sat next to Shawn and this other homeless man who was amongst the lowliest of the indigents. He reeked of the foulest of odors, but I did my best to not show my disgust. Throughout the sermon this other homeless man would take off his shoes and socks to scratch at his feet. At this point the odor was near unbearable. To describe it would be to imagine that you exercised in the outdoors for a few hours, then swam in the dirtiest of swamps or lakes, then let all of that dry on your body, and finally make a hike through the forest for days without showering. And that is how the foul body odor was like.

Other than that, the sermon was nice and short and I believe that it really resonated with a good amount of the attendants. I know for sure it resonated with Kevin and Shawn. It resonated so much I gave them the address of the Group Worship Service in Grand Junction with the phone number of the Bro Ernie. I really hope they go through with their intentions in looking into the church more.

Afterwards, I helped in the cleanup of the main room by setting it back the way we found it. Around this time, everyone started parting ways. We took a few more group pictures and then by this point everyone was incredibly tired, including me. A few of us went back to the Angeles house to put things away, and some of us went home. I was with the former rather than the later. Overall, it was an incredible day and only time, not numbers, will tell if we were successful or not.

Memoirs: Charleston Pt. 2 (Myrtle Beach)

04/29/2014

2014-05-20 21.35.53

Today I woke up around 9:00 A.M to get ready for our trip from Charleston to Myrtle Beach. I remember eating sausage, eggs, and rice for breakfast. It was good and got me full for a while. Then we left the house around 10:00 A.M. The trip to Myrtle Beach was interesting because of the places on the way to Myrtle Beach. I remember going through Mount Pleasant and it had very sleepy and interesting communities near the bay of the island. I remember driving through this dense forest with foliage growing on the trees to the side and on the branches overhanging the highway. I also remember passing through other quiet beach towns such as McClellanville. We also stopped to get gas near McClellanville. To be honest, getting gas there was an event on its own. The cashier lady called me “honey” which is something that caught me off guard. Coming from Colorado, Hawaii, Guam, etc. I was never called that before. I also witnessed her talking incredibly nice to the regulars. It was the kind of nice that made me realize that life still exists in these small communities as opposed to the lifeless anonymity of big cities. Anyways, while I was at this gas station I got to try their coffee and doughnuts. Both of them were exceptionally good.

From here, it was a hop and a skip to Myrtle Beach. On the way I could also point out two oddities in the area. Nothing negative, but, something interesting. I noticed that there were a lot of tourist traps trying to sell random beach accessories and memorabilia. They ranged from tie dye shirts to beach posters to beach towels to who knows what. I remember at one stretch there were three of these stores in a row! The funny thing about it was the stores were getting bigger in succession with the last store being the biggest. These stores were oddly colorful with lots on display on the front including items they sell and different “for sale” signs. Secondly, I also noticed there were quite a bit of mini-golf places. The thing that stuck out the most was the blue water. I’m sure its to make it look more unique and interesting, however, why blue? Why not keep it clear like normal water? Are they trying to hide something? Something about the blue artificial water in all of these mini-golf places bothered me. I must digress and add that I remember one golf place having normal water.

While we were approaching Myrtle Beach I saw one of the prettiest girls in my life. We were at a stop light and she was jogging in the area and waited for the pedestrian sign to turn. She had her blonde hair tied up and she was dressed in a jogging outfit. In terms of looks she has this normal yet cute and innocent flair to her. It was this sort of all-american beauty that is hard to describe. For some reason, she really stuck out, and sometimes I wonder who she is, what does she like to do, what music she listens to, if she prefers cafes over clubs, etc. Too bad I’ll never find out.

When we finally arrived in Myrtle Beach we went straight to our hotel the Coral Beach Hotel. The parking area inside the actual hotel compound was a bit cramped since it was to be used for loading, unloading, registering, etc. We unloaded our luggages and headed to the room. In the lobby area near the elevator there was the lady who greeted guests and asked them if they wanted coupons for the different attractions in the area. I didn’t really think about it but I kept her deals in my mind. Later, when we went to our room I wanted to swim as soon as I can. I got ready to swim and went to check out the pools. The pools themselves were a bit small and shallow (4-5 ft deepest). But I did get to try out the water slide, which, was fairly fun. Afterwards, I wanted to head to the bigger pool, the beach. This was the first time I went to the beach for nearly a year. It was very surreal and nostalgic to see the shoreline and the waves hitting the sand. The only difference is that the ocean is the Atlantic ocean. I’ve never seen the Atlantic ocean until today and it was an enlightening experience. The difference between the Atlantic and Pacific is that the Atlantic ocean has a sense of dread and danger I haven’t felt while being in the Pacific. I think its due to the ocean water being a bit aggressive with the high waves hitting at random intervals. But I think the dread came mostly from the fact that the water was murky and no one would go further than the shoreline where the waves break. I ventured out further for a while and wrestled with the waves but the feeling of dread and fear eventually told me to go back to shore. At shore, I left my belongings with my siblings and made a short run through the beach. I’m not too sure how far exactly I went but I know that it was pretty far. The whole time even turning back I never slowed down. When I got back to where I think the hotel was I went to the ocean for one last swim before heading back. While heading back I asked the lifeguard where the hotel was and he pointed in a direction that I think wasn’t the right way. So I went anyways so he wouldn’t feel bad. Then, I asked a homeless person. And surprisingly he gave me better advice to get street side so I can find the hotel. I did what he said and I quickly found the hotel. But, it was a bit odd that local people can’t locate a specific hotel. When I got to the hotel I actually rinsed off in the pool and then headed to the room. When I got to the room I found that my parents ordered pizza and I ate some and took a nap.

When I woke up from the nap I got ready to go to a boardwalk called Broadway at the Beach. When we left the hotel I remembered that my family wanted to go to the Wonder Works museum. I also remembered that the lady near the elevator was giving coupons for that museum. I asked her how to get the coupons but she pitched me an offer I had to accept. The offer was to find a couple to take a tour of a new hotel in the area. The couple would get the coupons and a stay at the new hotel. It was an interesting offer but I declined since we just didn’t have enough time to squeeze in an extra tour.

The drive to the Broadway was interesting since it went through the heart of Myrtle Beach. It was interesting, Myrtle Beach reminded me more of Tumon in Guam than Waikiki in Hawaii. I think its because there wasn’t a lot of tourists and the hotels were pretty spaced apart from each other like in Guam, as opposed to, the hustle and bustle in the crowded Waikiki area. When we got to the Broadway it too wasn’t really crowded. However, the boardwalk itself was beautiful. The shops in the boardwalk have a very beachy exterior that gave them a lot of character. All the small food stands such as popcorn, lemonade, slush, etc. were operated by the younger kids in the area. To be honest, they all looked like they could have been my friends if conditions allowed it. One girl in particular caught my eye, she was working in a slush stand called Eskimo Slush or something. She looked asian and reserved. Like the other girl from before, I quickly realized, that a relationship was impossible with her due to distance, time, etc.

While walking through the Broadway we got to stop by the Wonder Works. Which, is essentially a museum with an upside down house as its exterior. Also, near the Wonder Works there was an unusual amount of koi fish and ducks in the water. I remember being able to take a picture of a duck on the boardwalk. Afterwards, we walked around the Broadway and check out a few stores. I remember there being two candy stores. One was a IT’SUGAR which is actually a franchise candy store. Inside was a bunch of random candies and a very small oriental candy section with pocky, hello panda, etc. An interesting candy was a lollipop with a scorpion in it. Other than that. IT’SUGAR was about as normal as normal can be. The other candy store was a more traditional candy store that sold chocolate covered fruits and I think caramel apples too. What stuck out to me was the salt water taffy and the machine that was pulling taffy. Although it all looked interesting, for some reason I didn’t get any taffy.

Afterwards we were looking for somewhere to eat dinner. At first we asked some of the locals for a good seafood place. However, they unfortunately only recommended places in the Broadway which didn’t look too appealing or unique. So my sister recommended Captain Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood, which, is supposed to be a real good seafood buffet. Subsequently, we left the Broadway and headed to to Captain Benjamin’s. The drive there wasn’t too exciting. When we did arrive I noticed that there was different boat parts such as rudders, wheels, etc. almost littered near the entrance. I’m sure it was added for a nautical decor and character. The store itself looked like a beach house/light house in the exterior. As we entered, a pirate even greeted us and gave colorful necklaces to my mom and sisters. It was interesting, to say the least. Our host at the door to the table was the most interesting host I’ve seen so far. It was this nerdy kid who was enthusiastic about his job. He was quite amusing and made the walk to the table funny. When we got to the table we were greeted by the waitresses. They gave us the rundown and let us get our food. When it came to the food selection, all I have to say, is that it was multitudinous. It was mostly southern food and seafood. There were also various american classics throughout the buffett. Sparing detail, I remember I ate a lot that night. I could comment that the hushpuppies they served was the most unique hushpuppies I ever ate. It wasn’t like the normal salty hushpuppies, but, it was sweet. The change in palate taste made it unique and easier to eat. Overall, Captain Benjamin’s was a lot of fun with tons of great food. If you are looking for seafood or a unique experience in Myrtle Beach, you can’t go wrong, with Captain Benjamin’s.

We eventually left Captain Benjamin’s and went back to the hotel room. The night was about to be over but I remembered that I still had to do research on my Sherman’s March. Because of this I decided to look for a open cafe or anything nearby to do some research. To do so, I decided to walk around the neighborhood. The walk was interesting and hardened my belief that Myrtle Beach was similar to Tumon in Guam. The walk itself reminded me of a walk through Tumon at night. Which is quiet with very little people walking with you. While I was walking I only saw one general store open and the rest closed. The only thing else open is the various hotel lobbies around the area. Unfortunately, I didn’t find an open cafe to study in, but I did get to see a nice portion of the city. I remember passing by the other boardwalk. I don’t remember if it had a name, but it did look more like a fairground with a giant carousel. At this time, everything in that boardwalk was closed. Afterwards I remember walking through the beach to the hotel. It was dark but in the distance towards the hotel I saw other people walking the beach. In the far distant I saw kids throwing bottle rocket fireworks across the beach. It was interesting, and at this time I was back at the hotel. When I got back to the room I did my studying there and subsequently went to sleep.