From my journal (back-dated to when I wrote it):
What SLO needs is a zócalo. Central plaza, sidewalk restaurant seating, live music, strolling around — very nice. A mariachi band is going between the tables now, dressed in the traditional (or is it stereotypical? I don't know) black suits and such. A performance by who I pressume are some sort of professional mariachis just ended and they are packing up all their instruments from the gazebo. Large tule trees are throughout the plaza, and they have just added thick borders of red pointsettas around the trees.
It's December, but the night air makes me think of those perfectly barely-warm summer nights in Walnut Creek growing up. I didn't need to bring my sweatshirt at all.
Like in Spain, poor people stop by the restaurant tables to beg for money or ask if I'll buy some trinket they're peddling. I'm eating at Amarantes, and the waiter seems to enjoy telling me that he lived in San Francisco for 14 years. (I tell people who are that I'm from California, and "cerca de San Francisco" if they ask more specifically.) I've noticed that in Mexico and Spain that people we wouldn't normally talk to outside of a prescribed script — cashiers, waiters, shop employees — ask about where I'm from, why I'm here, and for how long. I don't know whether it's because people are just more friendly and open here, or because they're proud of their region and want to tell foreigners about it. Or maybe I look naïve and they're just distracting me before they pickpocket me. ,)
I spent a total of $137 MXN on Tuesday, which covered Burger King, an hour of internet, a phone call to the States, dinner, a 25% tip, some bread and a cookie. Sweet.