My sister Juliana, her husband Alex, and two children Celina who is 13 years and Alice who is 11 years visited me recently. The family lives in Frankfurt, Germany and I was seeing my sister after 20 years. Quite a reunion of sorts.
The children speak fluent Portuguese, English, German, and this aspect intrigued me. We spoke about family and things general and this was good. We also spent many hours talking about the environment, recycling, and living conditions all over the world. The children especially Celina seemed to be well versed with all the topics in which we were engaged. At times I thought she knew too much for her age, but my sister Juliana assured me that she was an excellent student and that both Alice and Celina read a lot.
We gave the family a tour of the Presidio of San Francisco and they got a chance to meet Shane Eagleton, who was working on one of his projects at the Presidio Nursery, which is situated at building 1244. They saw Shane Eagleton's large over 30 feet healing poles, his small quick fish carvings which he gave each one in my family, his drawings, and what is most important they got to ask him questions and felt he was a great environmentalist. Shane's feelings were mutual.
We visited building 1243 where the present Presidio Recycling Center is situated. They saw the portion set aside for exhibiting art linked to recycling material. The central area where real recycling is done and visited my office and were pleased. While looking around in my office they saw the smaller carvings and paintings of Shane.
I had a spare painting of Shane which was autographed and presented it to my sister Juliana. She told me that she would treasure the painting.
While I was having a dialogue with the two children they kept telling me that recycling was well practiced in Germany. I lived in Germany in the 1970's and I remember that the Germans did have a pretty good system then, at least in Southern Germany.
The children kept asking me questions about recycling in San Francisco and the States. They noticed while they were touring the city, a lot of waste. Ardent believers of recycling always notice this and we are at a loss what to do about it. For example a lot of cans and bottles, can be set aside for recycling but again and again we notice them deposited with rubbish. We see it but can do nothing about it at the moment. We try educating and should till most everyone falls in line. Recycling after all is a habit.
My sister's family has a small organic garden. They grow all their vegetables and some fruits and have learned how to conserve water and do their own composting. They asked me if such practices were carried on in San Francisco. Lucky for me they had visited the Farmers' Market on Wednesday held near the United Nations Plaza, near 7th and Market in San Francisco. At this market they got a chance to see the variety of vegetables, fruits, and products like honey, dates, fish, poultry and so on. They were impressed, especially when told about the vegetables and fruit that were organically grown. They were also impressed by the crowds that gathered at such a market on a week day to purchase quality food.
Mayor Feinstein had appointed me as a Commissioner of the Farmers Marker way back in 1981 and so over the years I have visited the various Farmers' Markets all over the City and County of San Francisco and could answer the children's questions. For some particular reason they were interested in honey and how the honey industry was handled. Pesticides used on vegetables and fruits and how this was regulated?
Well, I am not an expert on these topics but I realized that I better do a lot of reading. I was surprised that at their age they bombarded me with too many questions that demanded precise answers.
I felt comfortable when we discussed matters linked to Philosophy and Theology. World history and questions related to the make up of the United States as far as the population was concerned. Related questions on Diversity and the Native Americans. The children were interested about the welfare of the Native Americans and were quiet surprised that their uncle had taken a stand and was fighting for the Native Americans. At times I really got into the discussion and uttered words like "kick ass" only to be reminded by the younger niece that I sounded "too mucho" Well, I said "Alice this is just a figure of speech" and got out of the catch 22 situation.
We also discussed the homeless situation. I had to explain to my nieces that many of those who live on the streets of San Francisco are from some other States. Many a time these States give their homeless citizens a one way ticket to San Francisco. In San Francisco, considering the mild climate one can live on the streets and survive.
How ever this is not possible in places where is snows and is very cold. San Francisco also has charitable places that take care of the poor as did Saint Francis Assisi, the patron saint of San Francisco. Also, by and large the citizens of San Francisco tolerate the homeless and are kind to them.
My family liked San Francisco and were impressed by the San Francisco Library, the Buena Vista Gardens, the Metreon Complex, Sausalito and the Ferry Ride, the transportation system and MUNI, the good restaurants, Union Square and the shops, especially Splendido's where Chef Giovanni Perticone treated my family to a great 12 course dinner. Celina and Alice had never experienced just a treat and took with them fond memories of Splendido's situated at Embracadero Four, end of Market Street, near the Ferry Building. All this courtesy Maria Da Costa their aunt.
Looking at the photographs that accompany this article one can say my family had a good time in San Francisco. I thought readers who visit my web site would like to know a little about myself and my family. Enjoy.