The area is a composite of nationalities. If I had consciously tried, it simply would not have been possible to have located such an eclectic grouping of humanity. The place lends itself wonderfully to learning something about the world's multitudinous cultures before actually going there. A formula advised by Rolf Potts in Vagabonding.
A large Portuguese community straddles both sides of the 101 and centers itself around the Five Wounds Church, described in part 1 of this series. Surrounding them is a largely Hispanic community composed mostly of Mexican Americans, but also including fair numbers from all the Central and South American nations. Within this sea of Spanish are islands of Asians. The Vietnamese community is by far the largest of these, though the Japanese are well represented along with the Taiwanese, Korean, Chinese, and Filipino nationalities. Indian and Pakistani peoples as well as a smattering of Iraqi, Iranian, and other Middle Easterner's are not as common in the area but they make their presence felt none-the-less. If the world hummed along as well as this large multi-ethnic place manages to do every day of the year, it would be a better place by far.
My stretch of the Santa Clara has numerous small shops catering to every community around it. A favorite among newly arrived and local, traditional, Hispanic cooks is the Chaparral Super where nearly every strange and fascinating food from south of the border can be had. A personal fave. We have a Vietnamese butchers, several ethnic restaurants, auto shops, second hand stores, and of course palm readers and astrologers. The last seem to elicit a superstitious fear in certain community members. Other businesses cater to more mundane tastes such as sewing, sawing, party throwers, and jewelry to match your vanity. In short, every thing a small community needs on a day to day basis.
But the real community anchor and focal point for nearly every one, is the local McDonald's. It is indeed one of the friendliest places around, with the nicest, if not most tolerant, employees and managers I have ever come across.They tolerate a lot, which gives the place an atmosphere that is hard to match. Every one in the community from old to young, well off to homeless, addict and mentally ill, straight and gay, finds a warm welcome. I have seen some shenanigans happen here that would not be tolerated most places, and I have been witness to some great fun as well. It is here I met my good friend Don. Though he has moved from the local area we still have a standing appointment to meet on Friday mornings and try to solve the worlds problems. The restaurant also witnessed my falling in and out of a rocky attempt at a relationship. It is a testament to the type of place that it is, that the other one and myself can still be here at the same time and manage to be at peace all the same. The free wifi ain't bad neither.
Next time: a rush of color's.
Travel in peace.