When I visit foreign countries and stay in hotels, I never get the real feeling of the city and its people. What I get is all touristy stuff. Now I don't want to say that's bad because it isn't, especially today, with numerous Internet forums where toursits nad natives alike tell you what you should or shouldn't do when visiting a new country. However, in my opinion the best way to get to know a new culture is by staying with natives.
This is what we did in L.A. I'm lucky because I have friends in L.A. who wanted us to stay with them for a week. Ann, a history teacher, who I met thanks to an international project between our schools, was so kind to show us what L.A. is really like. Yes, we did see all those touristy things that are a must for all the tourists, but also, we saw more than that.
Ann showed us what to have a family means in the US, how to celebrate New Year's Eve, she took us to see the plants and animals in a tide pool, invited us to a delicious meal in the Paradise Cove, taught us the rules of American football, explained why to support the Trojans in the match against the Longhorns, made us fall in love with American chocolate chip cookies, went grocery shopping with us, and much, much more. Things we wouldn't be able to learn from a hotel, things that give you a different view of a country and its people than a tour guide.
When you have one friend who is willing to host you is a bliss, but to have two friends who offer their home to you is more than pure joy and happiness. To have Ann and Myra is more than I have ever wanted. Myra, who teaches English at the same school, invited us to her home in Monrovia where we spent two wonderful days. Myra took us to the stunning Rose Parade in Pasadena and to the movies. King Kong was on and we all had fun.