The US Asia bus from Las Vegas (hot tip: cheaper than the Greyhound) drops me on the outskirts of Los Angeles, at Monterey Park.
I buy a new watch strap and a refreshing green tea with succulent mango seeds from one of the many local Chinese shops.
I ask directions for downtown LA, using my rudimentary Spanish as the lady I ask speaks no English.
Poor people, and workers, on the no 70 bus. I am minority White. Everyone helpful and polite.
Downtown LA with its impressive skyscrapers.
After catching another bus, stressed from travelling in a strange land, I am picked up by my Servas host.
Servas was started after the Second World War to promote peace and understanding amongst nations.
Suddenly, I am whisked to heaven – yoga in the garden, fine wines on the veranda, then supper with soul conversations.
I realise that most of the food I have been eating in the US has been ethnic: Thai, Chinese or Indian.
This is my first taste of traditional American food.
Home cooked, with ingredients from the local farmers’ markets, it is superb.
Traditional July 4 food: barbecued and succulent spare ribs, homemade watermelon rind pickle, refrigerator cucumber pickle (Midwest speciality) and – officially – the best coleslaw I have ever tasted – courtesy of Angie’s father with spicy cayenne and refreshing parsley and cilantro.
The pudding: seasonal cherries picked that day by Angie in Leona valley, a nearby microclimate defying the Californian desert. Plus apricots, a blob of creme fraiche, and the most elegantly thin wholemeal pastry (a feat as such pastry is usually cludgy).
Bless you, Angie and Hans, for giving me sanctuary.