On our first Sunday, we paid a visit to our friends' church, leaving uplifted. The service was excellent and the preaching (by a guy who was a fire fighter by day) was fantastic. On hearing of our plan to go to Venice Beach that afternoon, we encountered some raised eyebrows and someone, choosing their words very carefully, said that it should be very eclectic ... I think that was the description. Intrigued, we went anyway.
The place was very busy and we eventually found a $25 parking space. It was overcast but you could see that the beach must have been amazing in the sunshine. It was further inland that things were less pleasant. Naive fools that we were, we were looking for a Starbucks, maybe a tea and some muffins. It's eclectic, alright. But it's not that kind of place.
I saw a drug deal being done within the first couple of minutes of walking the shop fronts along the sea front, and there was a parade of characters on display. My friend the snake handler (below) was preaching on the street in his leopard skin thong. As Moe says in the Simpsons, when Homer tries to get him to convert, "I was born a snake handler and I'll die a snake handler". Some other guy (below) was standing around begging for cash for hash, and people were trying to press their CDs on you too. The famous Muscle Beach was a bit tatty as well, though I wouldn't have said so to the two guys that were working out there.
In truth it wasn't a great vibe, the only time that we felt unsafe in our trip to America and so we made for the cars and went back to the safety of the suburbs for that cup of tea. Still, it was an interesting experience.