Monday, June 8, 2015

Berkeley Bound Brunch

Finding my way to Dona Tomas was surprisingly difficult. First, I had missed some turns finding the street itself, Telegraph Avenue. Then, once I did find the street, I discovered that I was actually going towards the wrong direction. When I finally thought that I stopped at the correct destination, I drove around to find parking, only a block away. The restaurant was on the side and was not labeled largely, but I enjoyed the openness of the area. I accidentally tried to open one of their doors (there were three) to find that the first one was the entrance and walked back a few steps to enter the restaurant. 
The Front of the Wonderfully, Delicious Restaurant

Once I had gotten inside, there was a very nice waitress who escorted me to the table where Jenny, Gwennie, Arnold, and Hummd were sitting. I could already feel the excitement running from head to toe while I walked toward them. As I greeted each of them, I noticed that there was a plate with chocolate dip and a churro saved for me. My first bite of it was so amazing. By the time that I had finished the churro, a waiter came out to take our orders. I was not so sure what I wanted at first because the menu was filled with tons of food that I did not recognize at first. Then, Jenny suggested sharing plates with Arnold and I, so we quickly got on board with that and asked for an extra three plates. They had gotten (I think) the chilaquiles verde and carnitas hash. I ordered the tacos carnitas, which had pork with Mexican oregano along with a side of pico de gallo, rice, beans, and corn tortillas. 

While waiting for the food to come, we all had interesting topics ranging from more details on our trip to Vanderbilt to a language learning app, to Brazil, other plans for the summer, and beyond. I learned that Jenny was traveling to Brazil really soon, so she wanted to learn more Portuguese, and told us her tricks of getting it done. She recommended a really great application to me called Duolingo to download on my phone, which was made by a German man who wanted to learn English, and decided to create something that anyone can access easily, for free. I found out that Arnold has been using it as well, so I wanted to give it a try whenever I would want to learn more about a language or of one. It seems really unique to me how Portuguese is kind of like Spanish and French combined, for example, Jenny told me that the letter "r" is pronounced like an "h" in Portuguese. From there, we talked more about languages and our knowledge of other ones like Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. I even got to teach Hummd how to sign, "My name is Hummd." 

Soon enough, the food came. Gwennie had a marvelous looking breakfast plate with eggs and bacon on the side, Arnold accidentally had Jenny's dish, and Hummd had an enchilada. Arnold's and my plates came out around the same time a few minutes after the rest had already received their food. We split our food by putting a little of each on the three smaller plates and passed it around to each other. I really loved the egg from Arnold's carnitas hash, all together in one piece while nice and runny on the inside. Everything that I ate and tried was so great and fantastic! Dona Tomas truly has such delicious and scrumptious food, if I can say so myself from my own experience. While everyone was eating, I was really thinking to myself that we are all going to be doing this again, in a month, traveling together. It is really unbelievable that summer has already started, but I am glad that I was able to begin with this brunch full of uplifting attitudes and personalities. 

As we were all finishing up, we got to talking again more about the trip. Jenny especially emphasized on the importance of getting as much sleep as possible a few days prior to traveling. I think that out of the stops that are on the way to Tennessee, my favorite will be Atlanta, Georgia. Jenny talked about how much of a blast it was when she went there, and as future first-timers in the South, Gwennie, Arnold, Hummd, and I sat in awe. Then, she asked each of us our other plans for the summer. Personally for me, I have Camp Royal for Interact, a voluntary community-based club that will last a week long, and Drum Major Camp, a program that is 2-3 days long to gain more experience with conducting for band, a few days right after Camp Royal, until the trip to Vanderbilt. 

After chatting for another half an hour or two, Gwennie's mom showed up to pick her up, so she left a little early. We ended up leaving around 2 p.m., leaving way later than we had expected. The time had passed by so fast, and we did not really notice it flying by.  Hummd and I continued our conversation on how unreal it is that summer has already arrived. It does not feel like we are about to be seniors, and I asked Arnold this too, whether or not they think that as each class comes into high school, there are less expectations and more disappointments coming from them. In comparison with the classes above them, they do not seem to uphold the older classes' legacy. This talk went on for a while longer, and then we all were leaving (I was going to drive Arnold and Hummd home). 
3/4ths of the Vanderbilt Cohort (Missing Gwennie)

We all gave Jenny a huge hug before heading to my car, and wished her a fun and an unforgettable experience at Brazil. One mistake that we all made was forgetting to take more pictures, especially with the whole group. Unfortunately, Gwennie did not make it into the photo with us, but there will definitely be more future pictures taken of us all. It was a really nice day outside, but even better when well spent with such astonishing people (and appetizing food). 

Once my car had warmed up, I headed out on Telegraph Avenue and went straight down to reach the freeway. Hummd saved me with her maps to reach her house, but when we were about to enter the freeway, I had already taken the wrong turn. If it were not for the one short exit ahead of us, we might have been headed to San Fransisco or something. The exit that I took was a new road for me, it was between the shores of the ocean and the freeway. I never knew how to get to the shores, but now I do. I proceeded with the road to get on the freeway and get Hummd home. When I had completed that task, it was surprisingly not that hard getting out of her neighborhood to find our way to Arnold's house. The car ride was filled with singing along to the radio and talks about how excited each and every one of us are to see each other again in exactly a month from now. 

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