It seemed as soon as the Delta Jet to Charleston touched down, the American Airlines plane took off, with five days in Atlanta, GA on the horizon. One plush pick-up from the airport by Artemio and Duluth Taxi Service and big, bright Georgia skies stretched for miles beyond interstate 85, heading into the tall trees of Sugar Hill.
A day trip into “the city” meant a visit to Wuxtry records, an Atlanta landmark buying and selling music of nearly every medium since 1978. Conversing with the owner and his summer employee, guitarist for classic Atlanta punk band Neon Christ as my pilot indulged himself like a kid in a candy store, perusing the stacks of vinyl, we left with a Stan Kenton boxed set among the loot.
Afternoon lunch at Bravo’s Cantina and Grill, where the friendly staff serves authentic Mexican food, including a tangy, delectable ceviche tostada and perfectly-grilled nopales (cactus) was followed by a quick visit to Mint Julep’s, with its Southern-themed accoutrements and beauty items like Savannah Bee company lip balm in unique flavors including, appropriately, Mint Julep.
Perhaps the greatest part of this visit to Atlanta was reuniting with a friend after 17 years: Renée and I worked together at a tech company in the 1990’s, but has since gone on to raise two awesome kids with her wonderful husband Ryan. Meeting at Dutch Monkey Doughnuts, we devoured several unbelievable gourmet baked goods before heading over to their little house near Lake Lanier filled with love, stuff and three hilarious dachshunds.
Wrapping up Georgia, the Atlanta airport return trip with Artemio was uneventful… until American Airlines changed the departure gate. Relocating several yards away and settling into an unassuming seat along the wall, I looked up just in time to see Latin Grammy award-winning artist Nicky Jam walk by.
With his undeniable trademark tattoos, I called out, “Hey, Nicky Jam!” to which he replied with a wink. Watching as he turned around and began crossing back, “Nicky Jam,” I said again, struggling to balance my backpack, “will you take a photo with me?” Noticing my wrangling act, he quickly crossed and sat down.
Click here for a biography of Nicky Jam, including news about his first time touring in the US
In two seconds, I snapped a photo with one of my favorite artists, who has recorded with famous singers including Enrique Iglesias and Silvestre Dangon. It was refreshing to meet a megastar who isn’t too busy, arrogant or unaware of others to spare a few seconds for a photo.
Moments later, the American Airlines flight to Sacramento began boarding. In-flight entertainment included the excellent July 2016 Latin Showcase playlist (featuring Nicky Jam), providing some great music as the plane chased the sun along the horizon.
With half a month of travel left, and a heart already grateful for memories of friends, food, and famous singers, this summer vacation is moving along well, with each spectacular day leading swiftly into the next.