Sunday, May 17, 2009

Part VI San Diego
April 1 to April 4

The drive from LA to San Diego was spectacular as it went along the coastal highway. I watched the sunset into the ocean in a pool of blues an oranges. Arriving in San Diego felt like coming home. I can't believe that I almost stayed in LA for a week instead. The air was warm and friendly and the streets were wide open, full of people and interesting shops. I felt immediately comfortable. The downtown hostel was nice an bustling. I spent the whole evening doing laundry and watching the Godfather. I hadn't done laundry for five weeks and it was time, believe me it was time. The most interesting thing was that in my full dorm room of 10 girls, no one snored. I slept soundly and peacefully and woke up feeling rested.

I met some nice folks as I cooked my complementary all you can eat pancake breakfast. In fact, on gal, Gabriella and I made plans for the day. We drove to Old Town and explored the historic town and hiked to some high places that afforded nice views of the ocean and the city. The we walked all over Balboa Park. We saw amazing flowers and trees and museums. We picnicked in the sunshine and frolicked in the Rose Garden with roses named Playboy and Sunset. We discovered a lovely artist's village and delighted in chatting with the potters and painters. We wrapped up the evening with a wonderful view of the sunset from the Coronado beach and a tasty picnic from Whole Foods.

I moved to the Point Loma hostel in Ocean Beach. It was advertised as a peaceful and scenic alternative to the bustling chaos of the downtown hostel - a much "quieter" affair. Despite its low key profile, the hostel proved to be a "happening" place. There were several alternative spring break groups that were on their way to volunteer in Mexico that were staying there and my three bunk mates snored and sawed logs like fog horns and chainsaws. I got exactly no sleep. The school groups ran rampant into the night and then got up at the but crack of dawn. It was good motivation to get out and explore the area and go for a run. I made pancakes when I returned from my run and plans to go to Escondido.

Escondido is a town north of San Diego and home to Stone Brewery. Stone makes Arrogant Bastard. I was keen to go on a tour and get a free pint glass. While I was waiting for the bus, I struck up a conversation with all the other people also waiting. The conversation continued throughout the entire bus ride. I had only a tentative idea of what sort of transportation to take to get to Escondido and it included two buses and a train. I got the schedules from the info station and bought the first round of train tickets. As I studied the schedules, I realized that I would have to turn around and return to San Diego the moment I got to Escondido because of the limited running times of the trains and buses. The transportation inter-city seems to be aimed at commuters and the last runs are around 6pm. I decided to bag the Escondido plan and save it for another day. I sold my ticket to another passenger and spent the day in downtown San Diego.

I had a heart to heart in a 2nd hand store about what men want. It was a comical conversation which I will cherish for quite some time. I spent an hour in the library and skirted 4 or 5 Greenpeace activists and returned to Oceanside by 5 for the evening farmer's market. The market was a neighborhood wide affair complete with fruit and veggie vendors, ethnic foods vendors, art dealers and artists, buskers and spectators. One particular guitar player roped me in with own version of the Rolling Stones' Just My Imagination. His name was Gregory and he was a wonderful and charismatic musician. He played the blues like no other and he encouraged me to sing along with him. While we were improving a blues song, he encouraged a trumpet player to join in with us. The three of us jammed for about 30 minutes and then we all went our separate ways. I perused the rest of the vendors. I tasted some yerba mate chai that brought me to a new level of satisfaction. I also bought some half moon bone earrings with spikes to replace the ones I had lost.

I eventually made my way to the beach to watch the sunset and hang out with all the street kids. They are the same kids that hang out on Broadway in Seattle-black faded worn clothes, rucksacks, cigarettes, dogs and guitars. I somehow used to find there transient life-style romantic. But as I watched them abuse their dogs and get wild on drugs and alcohol, the allure of their air of freedom faded. They seemed all very involved in themselves and chained in by their attempt to be free. On kid noticed me and asked me how I was. He noticed that I was shivering and let me wear his hoodie for awhile. He even introduced me to some of his pals, who largely ignored me. Finally, they all scattered and I returned to the market area. I was stopped in my tracks by the sound of a drum. A djembe circle and a crowd of onlookers had coalesced in the middle of the road. I dropped my stuff and started to dance. It was another one of those serendipitous and quintessential occurrences that life is all about.

Oceanbeach-the neighborhood is home to the oldest co-op in the San Diego and two hostels. There are tons of cool restaurants, parks and beaches. There are a lot of hippies, musicians, surfers and street kids. The people of Oceanbeach have decided not to let any corporate business in and there are only mom and pop stores. It reminds me of Seattle in many ways. I sunk into Oceanbeach. It wrapped itself around me with its in eclectic people and red sunset cliffs. I think I could live in Oceanbeach and be very happy. I spent another snore littered night at the hostel and sometime in my awaking slumber, I decided to opt out of my adventure to Escondido and Stone Brewery. Instead, I sunk further into Oceanbeach.

I went running to the Sunset Cliffs Park. The cliffs dive straight into the ocean at sporadic intervals. There are enough sloping descents to allow surfers access. I ran to the end of the road and then meandered the two miles back to the hostel. I watched the surfers ride the waves and the dog walkers watch the surfers. The day was overcast but the scenery and the wildflowers and the sound of the ocean were still very vibrant. I returned to the hostel with the intention to return to the cliffs. I passed the day easily and returned to the sunset cliffs to watch the sunset. Then I went to a bar where Evan Bethany and Podunk Nowhere were playing. The cover was 6 dollars but I wiled my way in for free with a French accent. Evan turned out to be from Montana and Podunk Nowhere was simply out of this world.

I didn’t want to leave Oceanbeach or San Diego and the morning of my departure was bittersweet. I loved Oceanbeach and the little co-op and even the street kids. But I was ready to be delivered into the willing and able hands of a friend with a plan and who repeatedly encouraged me to trust him. I was gnawing at the opportunity to give up control and relax a little. I first had to brave a 13 hours bus ride with hour long stops in LA and Las Vegas. LA was turmoil and hostile energy. I stood in a very long line with a sinking feeling of dread until I caught the tail end of an announcement about Las Vegas. I abandoned my place in line to check out the announcement. My gut feeling told me to. I found that I needed to board a different bus right then and there. In Las Vegas, I opted to wait in a cozy chair in a nearby casino. Apparently, I wasn’t the first to have this idea and a security guard would repeatedly come over and threaten to kick out those who had their eyes closed. I managed to stay awake by watching a neurotic woman sort and rearrange the stuff into plastic bags. My brief 3 am encounter with Las Vegas did not whet my appetite for my future two night stay in there.

Sunset Cliffs, Oceanbeach

Blooming trees in the park
Sunset on the beach in Coronado
My virtual visit to Stone Brewery manifested in a mural on the side of a delivery truck
Sunset in San Diego

No comments: