Photo gallery of Katherine and Leira’s L.A. adventure

By Katherine Trujillo and Leira Marte, 17, Notre Dame Academy (both)
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We wandered around taking pictures and goofing off. Leira's peeking from behind a giant sculpture.

Photo by Katherine Trujillo, 17, Notre Dame Academy

Living in Los Angeles without a car is tough, especially if you’re on a limited budget. One day this summer we challenged ourselves to get around L.A. on a $3 bus pass, with only a couple more dollars for food.

After a long day riding the subway and bus, we realized there are a lot of fun things to do in Los Angeles, even if you’re broke. We met weird people and revisited places we’d gone to as kids. It was fun without our parents because we could crack jokes they would find offensive and go where we wanted. It was great to spend the day with each other and just let loose.

We met up at 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday at Leira’s apartment and walked to a bus stop on Wilshire Boulevard near Koreatown. As we boarded a bus going east toward downtown, we bought $3 day passes, which meant we could ride any bus or subway in the MTA system all day. We were headed to Olvera Street. Our only other plan was to go to the Japanese American Food Festival in Little Tokyo, which we’d read about.

When we saw a Red Line subway station, we got off the bus. On the subway, we were welcomed by the stench of piss and sweat, but as the day wore on, we didn’t notice it anymore.

Olvera Street
As we walked down the cobblestone streets across from Union Station, mariachi men sang at each restaurant. We saw a crowd gathered around a gazebo where folklórico dancers swished their skirts, twirling and stomping to the beat.
(Kat: Mi gente. Finally, I was among my people!)
Central Library
We rode the Red Line downtown. We were excited about visiting the Central Library and taking pictures in Teen‘Scape (a teen section with books, TV and computers) because we’re nerdy like that. Sadly, it was only 11 o’clock and the library wouldn’t be open for another two hours! We found a beautiful fountain across the street.

It was unnaturally quiet and abandoned. We wandered around for nearly an hour and when we looked for a bus stop, the skyscrapers and street signs jumbled into one big maze. We realized we were lost. Leira’s parents called and invited us to lunch. We couldn’t pass up free food, so we tried to retrace our steps and somehow made our way back to Pershing Square.

Hopping on the Red Line, we made it to Ilonggo Delicacies at Santa Monica Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, where we pigged out on traditional Filipino food.
(Leira: I ordered batchoy, a noodle and meat soup, and puto, rice cakes.)
(Kat: I gave her the dirtiest look because in Spanish “puto” is one of the biggest insults you can give someone.)
(Leira: I explained it was rice cake.)
(Kat: They were so good!)
Hollywood and Vine
We left the restaurant and jumped on a passing bus. Once we spotted a subway station, we pulled the yellow cord and requested a stop. Riding the Red Line again, we went to Hollywood and Vine to find Amoeba Records. As we came up the subway stairs onto Hollywood Boulevard, we were approached by a goth guy with a knotted, long bushy beard. Blowing cigarette smoke in our faces, he offered us tickets to “Psychiatry: An Industry of Death,” which he said was a museum exposing the dangers of psychiatric treatment. We were interested as he puffed out directions, but once he walked away, we were too freaked out to go.
Walk of fame
Then we took pictures at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
(Leira: I can’t get you in the shot. You’re going to have to lie down on the ground!)
(Kat: Are you crazy? People pee here!)

Amoeba music
We made our way through the heat to Amoeba, the best record store in L.A. The place was packed with music-lovers: punks, goths, krumpers and the occasional prepster. We got excited looking through the $1 movies, but the thrill wore off once we realized we had no money.
Hollywood and Highland
On the subway, we plopped down on the plastic seats and nearly fell asleep. Riding around L.A. and running into strange people was fun, but we were exhausted. Luckily it wore off at Hollywood and Highland. The place was bursting with people smiling and having fun dancing to blaring music and watching street performers.

That’s when we met the coolest street performer, who looked like Johnny Depp’s character Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, with heavy eyeliner, pirate’s outfit, yellow teeth and a drunken swagger. He was charming and didn’t ask us for money to take a picture with him. (See photo 6.) Next we saw three people dressed as X-Men characters. We saw Wolverine with his huge metal claws and asked to take a picture with him. “Well, I’ll do it for free, but she won’t,” Wolverine said, pointing to Storm.
Little Tokyo
We dragged our bodies back to the subway to end the day at the Japanese American Food Festival. Just when we thought we’d met some of the weirdest people ever, we witnessed a case of child abuse. “Shut up!” a young mother said, smacking her baby girl across the face. She then sang to her baby: “Lean with it/ Rock with it/ Brush your shoulders off,” as everyone on the packed train stared at her in horror. She yelled, “God, why is everyone staring at me?” as we gave her an evil stare and got off the subway at Union Station.

We didn’t know how to get to Little Tokyo so we boarded a bus and hoped for the best. Luckily, it worked. It dropped us off a block away. But when we saw the festival, we were disappointed. It was a food festival without food! The place was a ghost town. It was time to go home. Our feet were pounding and we were both cranky.
(Kat: Leira, call your dad to pick us up.)
(Leira: But that would defeat the purpose of the entire day!)
(Kat: Fine then, just walk faster!)

We sucked it up, caught a bus back to Union Station and took the subway to Leira’s apartment. It’s hard to believe that $3 took us so far.

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