Sorry about the lack of photos, we forgot to bring a camera cable to upload them...
Went to the Mission today. I slept in a little too much, and we missed making it to our intended thing - a guided tour of murals in the Mission. The Mission is the Latino district of SF (it also has some Italian and a touch of Greek). For reasons kind of unclear, much of the Mission has murals. All the schools are covered in murals, the public pool and some of the churches, as well as the sides of commercial and residential buildings. But given the washed-up-hippyness of the community group that runs the tours, and how prevalent the murals are (I thought they might be hidden in side streets) I'm kind of glad we missed it.
The Mission is a bit skeezy in parts, but is being gentrified (with some resistance). We went to 826 Valencia Pirate Supplies Store. 826 Valencia is a program started by author Dave Eggers to encourage creative writing amongst kids - particularly disadvantaged kids. The 826 stores (there are stores in different cities) exist to raise money to fund the programs. The day we were there there was a group out the back, plus a couple of teens dropping by to find out where the college application workshop was being held (the local highschool). Anyway, each of the stores has a different theme, and the SF one is pirate supplies.
The place is like a fantasy. Just inside the door is a tiny theatre with only two seats and a fish tank in place of the screen. All over the walls are framed bits of writing - a list of things that make the pufferfish puff up, practical jokes that aren't funny on a pirate ship... just all sorts. I was standing reading the one about What To Do If You Are Mopped. Just as I got to the line about not looking up - a whole pile of mopheads fell on me! I screamed. The girl at the counter (who has a level to the trapdoor in the ceiling that lets loose the mops) was very pleased with that reaction. Kids are allowed to barter for things at 826 - like, they might trade a story or a joke or a song for an eyepatch, or whatever the person at the counter thinks their offering was worth. Plus there is also a giant - and I mean giant - tub of lard to play with. Yep. There for no real reason, but you're welcome to stick your hands in it.
Next down the street was Paxton Gate. This big, bright building that houses a business dedicated to the Natural Sciences. So it sells interesting houseplants, test tubes, framed butterflies and mounted animal heads of all kinds. Their matching kids store has fossils and mounted stuffed plush toy heads. Awesome.
Bi-Rite Organic Icecreamery was next up. Salted caramel and pumpkin flavoured organic icecream (I want to go back for the lavender and honey)... so, so good. So we went to the Bi-Rite Market too. They had gorgeous bunches of organic flowers outside. It sounds really odd, but the colour of flowers are different here. They're brighter, more intense, but more natural somehow? Bi-Rite started as an organic store 30 years ago. It's now owned by the second generation, and also incorporates two farms so that for some of their produce, they can control the entire supply chain. Bought up some heirloom apples and other bits and pieces.
Asked the checkout chick for a good Mexican place for lunch. She pointed us towards a place beginning with Y that I can't remember the name of. We were the only Anglo people there, and had no idea what the Spanish menu was describing (except Pesca Frito and Bistecca, neither of which we wanted). The nice waitress took pity on us and suggested we have the mole which was fresh that day, with fresh tortillas and rice. Mole is like a chicken stew, made with cocoa. Man, those tortillas kicked the tortillas we had last night! Rougher ground corn, with visible fingerprints in. Plus mole for two, two waters, tortillas and rice came to the grand sum of $10.80.
The Mission is so Latin-oriented that the mobile phone stores there have all their window advertising in Spanish. We just missed Dios de los Murtos (November 2), but a lot of windows still had their displays up. Sadly, the store that sold Mexican paper decorations (papel picado, crepe paper flowers, pompoms...) was closed. There were also a whole lot of stores selling child-sized Mexican wrestling masks. Given that these stores were in the skeezier part of town, I'm pretty sure they weren't aimed at tourists.