Sunday, July 27, 2014

A little Mexican in London

Hazel, our impromptu tour guide, and I.

       My trek to Camden Lock has hands-down been the most rewarding day I've had this far in London.
        Starting off at Primrose Hill, I met one of the most interesting locals I've come into contact with since I've been in London. Her name? Hazel. A word I'd use to describe her? Firecracker.
        As we shared a bench on top of the hill, all it took on my end to get Hazel going about London was the simple question of, "Did you have a good walk up here?"
        Hazel ended up being full of knowledge about her city and country. Eager to share, Hazel volunteered to take us down the old industrial route down to Camden Lock. While her information was appreciated, I think the thing I took away most from Hazel  was her pride for the place she lives in and comes from. Her ease and comfort in telling us her opinions and the history of her town spoke wonders about how people must live in that area of London. Hazel was unlike some of the city people I've come across in London. She had more of a small-town feel. Hazel felt a bit like home.
         After parting ways with Hazel, she let us loose into Camden, where I branched out on my own in search of some good deals and food. I bought some hand-made sandals made from a couple from Italy, and a dress from an Irish woman with what seemed like amazing talent for making clothes. Walking around, Camden gave me a real sense of what London is about. I couldn't help but feel many similarities to home. London and the U.S. have many more things in common than we might think. The main one being that both are melting pots for so many different cultures.
          I conversed with so many people from different ethnic groups and nationalities...Camden helped me appreciate all those who may come to the U.K. for a better life, but who also bring their culture over with them, adding so much diversity to London culture itself.
           The heat brought me into a small restaurant called Cafe Chula, which had Mexican and American flags attached to its porch. Of course that drew me in, and I went in to take in some of the atmosphere and  drink a coke. A sat down next to two Brits who were enjoying a "California Burrito". The ingredients sounded right, but the burrito itself looked nothing like something you could get in California. Equally amused, the two British guys and myself compared notes on what California food is actually is like vs. what was actually sitting in front of them. I gave the restaurant an A for effort. The waitress came over and convinced me to sample a taco so I could tell her if it tasted anything like California Mexican food. It didn't. But it was somehow just as delicious....just in a different way. I took a peek in back and inquired about the cooks. They're from Spain, and apparently were doing their best to cook Mexican. Again, an A for effort.
              My day in Camden gave me so much insight into the people of London. Everyone may come from a different place, but everyone is so willing to try other things from different places, and they seem to welcome other cultures to become part of their own. There's a certain openness that I can't help but appreciate and hope that I have within myself to take with me as I travel. The beauty of places like Camden is the mixture of tradition and culture, and the people who allow it to flow freely.

My "Mexican" Tacos. Delicious, but not quite right.

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