Day #41 - Drive on By

The San Francisco Armory. Spaceship scenes
from the Empire Strikes Back were
filmed inside here.
San Francisco is known for the home of many technology companies - Google, Meta (Facebook), X/Twitter, AirBnB etc. with Silicon Valley located in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area. Therefore you would expect a city with such companies to be on the leading edge of innovation, to be the one place to see new ideas being turned into reality.

In many ways and in many instances it is. The most high profile example I have seen of this while I've been here is the proliferation of self-driving cars. I may have seen such a high number since there are two parking lots for these cars that act as their base not far from where we are staying. In fact, today I saw about five of them in a line driving down the street, all without a human aboard, automatically return to their parking spots in the lot. It was a sight I have seem versions of in many science-fiction movies, but to see it in real life, is very creepy I can tell you! I wasn't able to get my phone out quickly enough to film the sight but I did capture this solitary one for you - again, no human aboard. 
I am reminded of what automobiles were called when they first hit the street - horseless carriages and how people didn't trust them. This is the next big step I guess on that evolution of personal transport.
So what is quite shocking is to see alongside all this tech is the high level of poverty on the streets. San Francisco we were warned has quite a big number of homeless people and as a large city, of course, we were expecting to see it. However, the scale of the problem is very apparent on almost every street we have walked down. It would have been insensitive of me to take pictures to illustrate this point, so here's one I grabbed from a recent article discussing the problem (click here to read the article). 
The City has announced an extension to its current strategy, but it seems to me that like many cities, this is just moving the issue - there appear to be fundamental problems with society and the support system. 
We've been quite shocked at the semi-permanent structures that homeless people are building on the sidewalk, effectively creating a home out of whatever they can find. Others have salvaged tents and erect them on the concrete while others are living out of cars or campervans parked up. It is quite a contrast to see this expensive technology drive past the poverty. No easy answers I know. 
Pastel Azteca
In the evening we were treated to our friend Jose cooking for us. He made "Pastel Azteca" which apparently translates as "Aztec Cake"! It is a traditional Mexican dish similar to lasagna and is made by alternating layers of gently fried corn tortillas with layers of tomato salsa, sliced poblano chillis, sweetcorn, sliced onion, sour cream and cheese. It is common to add a meat ingredient such as coarsely shredded chicken, ground beef or pork - Jose opted for chicken which he had boiled with vegetables to make a stock for the salsa. Pastel azteca is then baked in an oven. Needless to say, it was delicious!