The wonderful thing about Los Angeles is that it has its beaches, mountains and cities. I will never have an excuse as to why I am bored on my days off.
I recently went on a hike to the Hollywood sign. Everything about the Hollywood sign experience was thrilling, except for the fact that I got extremely sunburnt on my shoulders. I happened to meet some lovely friends along the way. So, here is how that hike went.
I walked from the bottom of Griffith Park to the top, to the “Griffith Observatory.” I wanted to go the the Hollywood sign alone, but I was somewhat fearful to by myself. However, that didn’t stop me. I decided to go because that’s just the kind of girl I am. When I reached the top of the Griffith Observatory, I silently told myself that if I don’t do this now, I will regret it later. I know myself too well. I had made an executive decision to go by myself that day. When I reached the sign for the “Hollywood sign,” my nerves quickly built. The sign read, “Want to see the Hollywood sign? Be prepared. Bring plenty of water. The sign is nearly 4 miles away. Take W Observatory Rd (behind you to the left) down the base of Mt Hollywood Drive. Follow the signs from there.” After reading this, I took a deep breath and quietly muttered “oh jeez.” I was not nearly prepared for this hike, as I had already drank half of my water bottle. I had a limited amount of sunscreen, but enough to get by. When I walked away from the sign, I glanced to my right and noticed a nice couple whom I quickly realized did not speak any English. They were pointing to the Hollywood sign and so I stopped dead in my tracks. I didn’t say a word and just watched them for a second or two. Then, as they were about to walk away, I stopped them and said “Excuse me. Hi there, are you looking to hike to the Hollywood sign?” I was desperately hoping they would say yes and was also hoping they spoke a little bit of English. The girl turned to me and said “Yes, we are. Are you?” I said yes, too. I then introduced myself and she introduced herself as Caroline. She also introduced her husband to me, Rodrigo. Right from the getgo, I could tell they were both outgoing and friendly. I knew next what I wanted to ask, and I hesitated for a moment, but then got the courage to ask if I could join them. The time between my question and their answer was slightly painful. To my surprise, Caroline said “Well of course. We would be lost without you.” I was in complete shock, yet still ecstatic. A huge grin spread across my face and onward we marched.
When I meet new people for the first time, it can be a little bit uncomfortable in the beginning because I feel as if I am always trying to break an awkward silence. However, for some reason this was not the case. Caroline, Rodrigo and I just clicked. Perhaps this is because I am more outgoing and confident these days. I felt comfortable with them, just as they did with me. Of course my first question to them was, “where are you from?” They said they were both from Brazil and they were here for vacation. I was glad to hear this. We walked further away from the city and deeper into the mountains. There was an increase in altitude as well. Luckily, we chatted the entire way, which was a great distraction from how tired I actually was.
Caroline’s English was not that good, but it was good enough to where I could understand her and to where we could have an intelligent conversation. Whenever she thought she said something incorrectly in English, she would kindly ask me to correct her…and I did. I find great comfort in knowing that a transcendent connection between two people does not have to be created through noise, but rather can be generated and maintained in silence. Sometimes, Caroline and I would look at each other and just smile, without saying any words. Isn’t it a beautiful thing when a simple glance followed by a smile is enough? Well, I believe so.
At a certain point during our hike, we hit a dead end. We could have either gone to the right or to the left. If we were to turn left, it would have taken us in front of the sign and if we were to turn right, it would have taken us farther up the mountain and to the back of the sign. My immediate thought was to go to the right. However, Caroline wanted to go to the left because she wanted to get pictures in front of the sign. I convinced her that we should go to the right first. I told her that she will have wanted to get the entire mountain and city view behind her. She admittedly agreed and onward we went. By then, I was getting pretty tired and I had no water left. Yes, how silly of me for drinking my entire bottle before I knew what I was getting myself into. I announced out loud that I was thirsty, which was not the best decision I’ve made thus far. As friendly as Caroline and her husband were, they sweetly offered me their water. I politely declined, per usual. I didn’t want to take their water and so I just suffered in silence. As bad as that sounds, I was okay. I was going to live. I told myself that I have suffered in silence before, when I was on my travel soccer team and so badly wanted to be benched due to pure exhaustion. Again, I was going to live.
There came a point during our hike where we hit a beautiful scenic view on the backside of the sign. We stopped to take pictures. She took one of me and I took one of her and Rodrigo. Up the mountain we trekked.
We finally hit the back of the Hollywood sign (to where we could physically see it). Finally! I was relieved. I plopped my butt down and relaxed for a second. The thought of having to hike back in the 100 degree heat taunted me. I convinced myself that I wasn’t going to be able to do it – lies! As we approached the top, we took many pictures and I almost fell flat on my face. My shoes are not meant for hiking, only for running. Caroline silently chuckled (if this isn’t a sign that we clicked right away, then I don’t know what is).
We went from the back of the Hollywood sign to the front. During this time, Caroline had taken out a chewy bar and asked me if I wanted a piece. Even though my stomach was growling from hunger, I declined. She then asked me, “Are you sure?” This was absolute torture. I wanted that chewy bar so badly, but didn’t want to eat their food. I would have felt terrible. I hesitantly said, “Yes, I am sure. Thank you though.”
As we continued to walk and talk, I nonchalantly asked her what type of music she was into. She mentioned that she liked the type of music that’s from her country. Country music. She played me one of her favorite songs and I really liked it. It had a wonderful beat to it. I can’t recall the name of the song, but it was in a different language and it made me feel like I was in Europe again. We sang, danced and walked. All of a sudden, I had a boost of energy and I think they did too. When we turned the corner, the Hollywood sign appeared right in front of us. Unknowingly, Caroline and I both squealed with delight. Rodrigo was directly behind us shaking his head at our craziness.
At this point, I was very dehydrated. At the time of questioning whether or not I was going to make it back to planet earth, Caroline and I both saw a sign that said “Cold drinks this way.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. She too had no water left. We sprinted towards the drinks. I saw three good looking gentleman sitting in rocking chairs right outside of their small home. As we approached them, one of the guys said “Ladies, have at it. It’s $3.00 for the small bottles and $5.00 for the big bottles.” I splurged on the $5.00 bottle because I wanted to make sure that I didn’t pass out on the way back. Water never tasted so good. We took many more pictures in front of the Hollywood sign. In that moment, I felt grateful because here I was, knocking this adventure off of my bucket list.
On our way back to the Griffith Observatory, we weren’t as chatty as we were in the beginning of the hike. We were all tired and wanted to be alone with our thoughts for a little bit. It felt like a much shorter trip on the way back, which was a blessing considering how tired we were. I broke the silence with a question I had been wanting to ask Caroline the entire time, but was somewhat hesitant because I didn’t want to come off as rude. She looked to be around my age, but I wasn’t so sure. And so, I asked. She’s only 3 years older than me. Not too bad. At what age does it become rude to ask someone their age? Any takers? Before I knew it, we were back at the Griffith Observatory. I did not want this day to end. When we said our goodbyes, Caroline surprised me with a big hug and yes, we exchanged our social media sites. I will never forget the first time I hiked to the Hollywood sign – a day to remember.