Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sacramento has sisters, lots of them

This spring I was in downtown Sacramento with two of my friends from Moldova. We happened to drive by City Hall at 10th and I Streets and we all did a double-take. There was a big pole with many blue city signs on it, pointing off into all directions. Did we see a sign for CHISINAU? The capitol of Moldova? The tiny country that elicits the response, Where in the world is Moldova?

We just had to see it again, so we went around the block. Sure enough, there were the signs for all of Sacramento's Sister Cities, with our little Chisinau (Kee-shee-now) right up there with the best of them.

Sacramento's Sister Cities and the year of induction

Manila/Pasay City, Philippines 1961/2006
Matsuyama, Japan 1981
Jinan, China 1984
Hamilton, New Zealand 1988
Liestal, Switzerland 1989
Chisinau, Moldova 1989
Yongsan-gu, Korea 1997
San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua 2006
Bethlehem, Palestine 2009

As the Sister City Council states - "The mission statement of the Sister City Program clearly captures our participation and investment in this endeavor – 'Promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation.' Our participation in the Sister Cities Program has allowed Sacramentans to meet new friends and build relationships with people throughout our nine sister cities, as well as the entire world."

I don't know about all that, but the Moldovans were thrilled to see the Chisinau sign. If I am anywhere near there and I have a Moldovan in the car, they get a few trips around City Hall to see their sign. This last weekend we finally stopped and got out to take a photo.

I had a weird feeling that I had been there before and my husband reminded me why. A few years back, our friends Micah and Jennifer were putting on their (private) Great Sacramento Race. It is one fun day of friendly but intense competition: word games, a photo/scavenger hunt, a disgusting eating contest and a full-out foot race around Sacramento. We (I) decided that we could take a shortcut through a construction zone on our way to Cesar Chavez park. We sort of got stuck inside a fence that said something to the effect Don't You Dare Climb This Fence, the Jail is Really Close By! So I climbed it, using a backhoe-type vehicle as a ladder to help me over the fence. When I safely, and with very soft shoes I might add, plopped down on the other side onto another backhoe, my husband followed me and we were off to the park. We won that year, forbidden fence and all.

So now the former construction zone is a pleasant public area and it seems like an old stomping ground friend. We crossed the street to see the outdoor sculptures and poetry wall at the EPA building. There is a large stepping stone sculpture and it didn't have any sort of sign that said  Don't You Dare Walk On This Indestructible Object!, so my husband did. He was in a suit, how much harm could he have caused? A security guard came over and told him to get down. Some people just have no sense of adventure.

If not in a skirt, I seriously would have climbed that pillar.

Next time you're downtown near City Hall, check out the sister city sign. Sacramento isn't an only child after all.