On my way back to San Francisco after Colombia, I spent a few days in Los Angeles. On my short trip there, I experienced a wide range of the city — from fancy restaurants to late night taco trucks, from the crowded freeways to the metro system (yup, you read that correctly), from gritty streets to sparkly palm tree-lined boulevards, from the Hollywood Bowl to a casual bar-restaurant where we had a bizarre encounter with an infamous semi-celebrity. Here’s a small sample of my visit to Los Angeles in pictures:

Aerial View of Los Angeles, California

The familiar sight of Los Angeles from the plane: the sprawl, the rise of downtown, the mountains in the distance, and a layer of brown smog partially obscuring it all.

Tacos at Guisados in Los Angeles, California

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One of the first types of food I gravitate toward when I return to California after a long time away is Mexican food. My sister and her friend took me to Guisados in Boyle Heights where I enjoyed some tacos and horchata.

Street art in Highland Park, Los Angeles, California

Corner store in Highland Park, Los Angeles

One afternoon we wandered around the main drag of Highland Park. It definitely gave off the vibe of a neighborhood going through a similar transition as neighborhoods in cities around the country. There’s a large long term population of Latino residents and an influx of hipsters beginning to change things.

Highland Park Metro Station in Los Angeles, California

Highland Park Metro Station in Los Angeles, California

I was shocked to find out that Los Angeles actually has a functioning metro system. After riding it, I can confidently say that you don’t know Los Angeles until you’ve ridden the metro there. Even after years of riding public transport in San Francisco, I found the Los Angeles Metro to be an uncomfortable experience. But it’s this whole other side of Los Angeles that many don’t know exists, and it’s important to know what’s underneath the surface of places we visit.

Palm trees and sunset skies in Hollywood, California

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Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles

At the other end of the metro we walked to park where we joined a picnic, and then went over to the Hollywood Bowl.

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When You Go Back to Bogota

October 12, 2014 Colombia
Leaving the Tatacoa Desert, Colombia

This is what it looks like to leave the Tatacoa Desert. Take it all in, because today you’re going back to Bogota. Back to the city, out of nothingness, back to the urban sprawl. Then back to California. But wait, before you go home, there’s gotta be one more crazy Colombian overland trip. First, there’s […]

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Photo Essay: A Cathedral Carved Out of Salt in Colombia

September 28, 2014 captured on memory card
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About an hour away from the bustle of Bogota is the placid little city of Zipaquirá. At first glance, it looks like an unassuming place. That is, until you go underground. Inside the town’s old mine lies a cathedral carved out of salt, all psychedelic and glowing with perpetually changing jewel toned lights. Here are […]

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Songs for the Road No. 23: When the Sun and the Music Disappear into the Colors of the Dusk

September 15, 2014 Hawaii
Big Island, Hawaii Wallking Trail

Every evening is perfect at the walking trail. There are flowers everywhere and the sea breeze keeps you cool as you work up a sweat. When the sun blends with the clouds that often hover near the horizon, everything glows luminescent saffron. One day, I finish my walk and cross the street to go to […]

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Photo Essay: A Sunday Stroll in Bogota, Colombia

August 24, 2014 captured on memory card
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In Bogota, Sunday is the most festive day of the week. The day begins with Ciclovia, a weekly event where large portions of city are closed off the car traffic and people are free to bike, rollerblade, walk, or run in the streets. In plazas, you’ll find free aerobics and dance classes that are available […]

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When You Go to the Tatacoa Desert

July 20, 2014 Colombia
Tatacoa Desert, Colombia

“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – When you go to Colombia’s Tatacoa Desert, no one is going to go with you. Among travelers, it’s one of those “Why are you […]

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Photo Essay: Sunset to Sunrise in the Tatacoa Desert

June 14, 2014 captured on memory card
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When I think of Colombia, the first scenes that come to my mind are long drives through unbelievable shades of green that seemed to stretch on infinitely. But Colombia is a place of many landscapes, including a thirsty and barren place called the Tatacoa Desert. I spent a night in this lonely desert surrounded by […]

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Lost and Found: Three Stories of Losing Valuables in Colombia and Getting Them Back

May 21, 2014 Colombia

When you tell people you’re going to Colombia, many don’t have to say a word to let you know how they feel. If you tell someone over the phone, you may notice a long pause or a sigh. If you tell someone in person, you may witness a widening of the eyes that asks, “What […]

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