Aloha Festival in the Presidio

On Sunday, August 5, 2007, I fought traffic to get to the Presidio, paid for parking, then circled for twenty minutes looking for a space. After parking, I finally emerged from my car to explore San Francisco's Aloha Festival.

Although the Aloha Festival was themed as much as the Himalayan Festival, it didn't interest me as much. That's probably because the items on display at the Aloha Festival seemed less exotic to me. It could also be because the day was overcast, frequently misting, and therefore much less pleasant than the day I went to the Himalayan Festival. As such, I spent only a bit more than an hour exploring.

There wasn't much artwork on display. Only one booth, with photos of eye-catching skirt-wrapped women, caught my eye. Most booths sold clothing, hand bags, jewelry, jugs, or rugs. A few sold Hawaiian snacks and ingredients. Two booths sold ukuleles. There was even one booth that sold furniture.

The crowd mostly consisted of Asian Pacific Islanders. Judging by the clothes, Hawaiian shirts are for tourists, not natives. (I saw my first Hawaiian shirt only after I was halfway through the festival, and only two booths sold them.) Two people wore amusing t-shirts that reflect the style and culture of this festival:

  • We don't skinny dip; we chunky dip.
  • Sorry, I don't speak Spanish. I am Samoan.
I ate at the festival, of course. The food stands were well themed: Hawaiian food, Filipino food, snow cones, some Thai food, and one or two of the usual booths of grilled or deep-fried meats and garlic fries. I had:
  • some kalua pork: moist. pretty good
  • some lomi lomi salmon: I'd describe it as a tangy tomato salsa; I didn't notice any salmon.
  • a sashimi salad with onions: lively; quite good; the best item.
  • some macaroni salad with peas (!): bland and starchy and not good at all.
Later, I had some lumpia as a snack. They're like thin egg rolls, and were even served with sweet and sour sauce. The ones I had contained chicken. I tried to order a half-order but, as it was the end of the festival, the purveyor was generous and gave me a full order yet only charged me for half. They were pretty good, good enough that the dipping sauce was unnecessary, and good enough that I finished the order even though I knew I didn't need to eat all that food.

These pictures and movies capture moments and sights from the festival, some of which I didn't discuss above.

Presidio Officer's Club
After lunch and two-thirds of the way through exploring the festival, I knew I'd be done with the festival way too soon. (I had evening plans in the city and didn't want to have too much time to kill.) Hence, I decided to wander away, hunt for a real bathroom (not a porta-potty), and see what else was nearby. Eventually, I found myself at the Officer's Club/temporary Visitor's Center, an expansive Spanish colonial building.

After briefly wandering through the gift shop and the exhibits in hall about the Presidio's history, I found a special exhibit of Robert Cameron's photographs. The photographs are mostly of natural scenes, though some are of natural scenes corrupted by human structures. I really enjoyed the exhibit, partially because the prints were impressively large (often six feet by ten feet) and with good detail, and partially because upon entering we were given an interesting booklet. The booklet had commentary from the photographer about every picture. Yes, every picture. Sometimes he describes the message he tried to convey with the photograph; sometimes the text was simply an anecdote about something that happened to him in the process of attempting to take the picture.

One photo, taken where the Sacramento River flows into the bay, shows a neat effect: one can see a line across the water where the dirtier/siltier river water hits the clearer bay water.

He also has a good photo of climbers on El Capitan.

Some of the pictures are comments on the environment and consumerism: arrays of salt beds, abandoned old strip mines, piles of cars by a landfill, power plants with many smokestacks, and oases of lawns and golf greens in the middle of dessert (photographed in Los Angeles and Las Vegas). Mostly, however, the photographs are of the majesty of nature.

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