Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Something To Be Said For San Francisco

Upon a misty road I stood and tried to thumb my way further north along the Pacific Coast Highway. Solana Beach had been amazing, and a few days in Malibu with Aunt Deborah and the five cousins had been fantastic, but it was good to be moving again. After more than an hour of futile finger extending I began to lose hope (I’m impatient). I wandered back down the road and spent a risky $10 on a rubbery bowl of -apparently world famous- deep-fried calamari. Thus fortified, I returned to my post beside the tarmac, ready for another onslaught of blank I-can’t-see-you-stares. Due to desperate boredom, and a certain unquenchable desire to have fun, I began to experiment with alternative hitch-hiking techniques (think dancing, attempting the moon walk, etc). Soon after I was picked up by an awesome guy named Jeremy while practicing my double thumb move. Figured if one thumb was good, two must be twice as good…..shut up, it worked!

Jeremy and I moved further north together in his beat up little sporty-ish car…I forget the make. On our left the ocean lay tantalizingly close and it’s salty musk flowed refreshingly through the car as we drove by. On our right were cliff-walls looking ready to collapse on us at a sneeze…but fortunately neither of us sneezed. Jeremy drove me through Ventura, to an onramp for Highway 101, which leads eventually to San Francisco.

Once more I faced the prospect of an indefinite period standing hopelessly with my thumb out…and I folded. Deciding that I wanted to get up to San Fran as soon as possible, I made my way to Ventura’s Amtrak train station. One painless phone call from a payphone -when did you last use a payphone? Putting the coins in is so much fun- and I had exchanged my original ticket, which was from Solana Beach to Sacramento, for a new one from Ventura to San Francisco…at no extra cost!

A train journey filled with conversations about Jesus, religion, children and nappy rashes (don’t ask) and I arrived in SF just after midnight.

In my journal, just before arriving in San Francisco, I wrote, “Every city seems the same to me, every thing in nature feels unique.”

San Francisco is the exception to that comment. It is simply beautiful. The air feels fresh and the towering buildings fill me with awe and excitement rather than the repugnance which cities often inspire in me. The streetlights glowed silently bright as the coach pulled up and dropped me off in this strange new place. Faced with the choices one is faced with upon a late night arrival in an unknown city, I began slowly turning in circles, seeking a direction in which to move.

As I stood and spun myself around, I noticed two shadowy figures walking out of the darkness towards me. One of them was dressed like a monk, clothed in a cloth habit with a silver cross dangling from a silver chain around his neck. Everything felt kind of surreal as they came closer and I tried to work out what was going on. Had I suddenly been transported back in time, or where they the lost time traveller’s, having come from the middle ages? I surmised that perhaps they had come from a dress-up party, although that didn’t feel quite right as they emanated calm and quiet. Of course, I wandered up to them and asked what they were up to. Turns out they are spiritual Christians who model themselves of the Celtic Christians of old. They wander the silent late-night streets like benevolent wraiths, drifting from pools of light to deepest shadows, always carrying the light with them and always waiting to speak with anyone who wishes to speak with them (I guess about how much better for you church is than drinking, or some such). I must say, of all things I imagined, one of them was not meeting medieval monks on the midnight streets of San Francisco. This weary pilgrim much appreciated their presence as they were, of course, happy to send me in the right direction for a hostel. I walked up the road, thinking more with every step that life is truly more strange and magnificent than we can comprehend…but we can try!

At some point on my up the road trudging I walked past a man who called out to me as he passed and asked if I was looking for a hostel. I surprisedly replied that yes, I was, and he pulled out a tourist map-book, drew four X’s on it showing hostel locations, gave me the map and went on his way. Amazed yet? Wait, it gets better! While waiting for a light to change so I could cross the road I said a friendly hello to the inebriated Australian standing beside me. He asked what I was up to and when I told him I was on the hunt for a hostel he promptly invited me to sleep on the floor of his hotel room…which was LITERALLY the door we were standing in front of. I slept like a baby and left this morning a happy man, ready to continue today’s mission, which was: Find Cafe Gratitude.

I found it! The buzz of people enjoying their food and conversation surrounded me and I knew that I had finally made it to Cafe Gratitude, one of the premiere raw-food cafe’s in the world, with good reason! I started off with a glass of purple delicious kombucha, a fermented drink, then followed with their ‘I Am Whole’ macrobiotic quinoa bowl. It was all completely delicious and I stashed some leftovers for later. Upon arrival at Cafe Gratitude I met Rachel my waitress, Tsuriel (not sure of spelling) my barman and Greg, the guy who’s couch I’m sleeping on tonight! Greg has written a book called Pay Yourself First and is selling it for $30. He offered me his book and a spot on his RV’s couch for that price, so I went with the flow and said yes (hostels are around $30 a night anyway, and this sounded like more fun). We’re off to explore the Golden Gate Park shortly, catch ya laters!

So it comes and so it goes…

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