The morning mist did provide a wonderful alternative to the brilliant sunshine of the day before. I love the moods created in these images.
To escape most of the crowds, I decided to walk in the tiny alleyways that are like the capillaries that wend their way through the body of Chinatown.
This is one of them.
As I walked down this alley, I felt like I was trespassing, seeing things I shouldn't see. The alley was unusually dirty and smelled of the sewer.
It was also a dead end.
I didn't realize that until I got there.
And then I saw this little guy.
He just about broke my heart.
At first he did not want his picture taken.
And then I guess he didn't mind since I was farther away.
I wanted so much to take him in my arms and bring him home with me.
I hope hope hope that he is someone's pet.
Goodbye little one.
I realize that Chinatown is a real, living breathing place, full of charisma and chaos. Dirt and brilliance. It's a real neighborhood, a place of poverty where the tourists feel safe. It draws me in, just like thousands of other people, every day.
From a very good article in the LA Times:
In the roughly 24 square blocks that make up Chinatown's core, 22,000 to 30,000 people reside (depending on who's estimating), most of them Cantonese-speaking Chinese, many in one-room apartments or government-subsidized public housing.
Chinatown remains among the poorest and least-educated neighborhoods in San Francisco — a "gilded ghetto," in one author's phrase.
"Most of our people here, in the core of Chinatown, live below the poverty line," said Rose Pak, general consultant to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco since 1983. "One wave in, one wave out. One wave in, one wave out. This will always be a haven and orientation point for newcomers, because of the language and the availability of social services."
Is there another neighborhood in North America that's as impoverished and as beloved by tourists?
Sometimes I feel like my camera is a shield. It allows me to see things clearly but also to have something to put in front of my face to protect me.
Do you feel that way too?
I guess you realize this by now, but I did take all these photos.