Ocean Beach: #2 of 48 Places

25 02 2011

I made the great leap across the big Pacific pond: I’m now living in Southern California. I wasn’t sure which beach town I’d wind up in. I only visited the San Diego area twice, many years ago. I remembered La Jolla as being especially beautiful. Although I looked at a couple of places there and one in Pacific Beach, I found a great place in Ocean Beach, only two blocks from sand and sea.
I love this little town already. Unlike so many busy, touristy beach towns, OB (as the locals call it) is quiet and laid back. The mornings are especially slow. When I walk the three blocks to Newport Avenue (the main drag) at 9 a.m., there is very little traffic and very few people out and about. OB hasn’t been too cold for me, but I do walk on the sunny side of the street. I still get chilled walking in the shade. I think there is a lot happening late at night here: many bars, many with live music. The young, party crowd must be sleeping it off in the mornings. Also, it’s only February. I assume summers are more touristy and much warmer.
I love the “vibe” here. People really care about their town and are active in protecting it from chain restaurants and big-box stores. Apparently there was quite a fuss made before a Starbucks opened on Newport. I would imagine there are some die-hard OBians who refuse to get coffee there. Fortunately there are lots of other choices for breakfast or coffee.
Do I miss Maui? Naturally. I left many good friends in Hawaii and do miss the warm weather. I’m sure I’ll make new friends here and eventually my body with get acclimatized. Due to having such a nice landlady, I’ve met several of her friends already. Such a nice group: very friendly and accepting of new arrivals. She is a musician, so some of the women I met (Annie, Joyce and Brenda) are also singer/songwriters. One of the first evenings I was here, we went to hear some of them perform at Winston’s: an OB institution.
Of all the places I could have landed, I’m so pleased with where I’m living. It’s not the house with a garden and cat that I dreamed of … but it is safe, comfortable and I feel right at home in my room in a condo. I love that I’m within walking distance of all I need. The San Diego bus system is pretty good when I do need to leave this area.
So all of San Diego waits for me to discover. I went with my landlady and two of her friends to Balboa Park to see “Hubble” at the science center. Afterwards we walked around the concourse. There is so much to do and see here, I know I’ll return to visit the art museums and gardens. One of the sites I visited on my first trip to SD was the zoo. I know I’ll want to see that again too.
So I’m happy as a clam: amazed that my 48 Places journey is off to such a good start. I’m looking forward to my three months here. After that: the world awaits.


Last Day on Maui

6 02 2011

It is so hard to believe but today is my last day on Maui. Since my first visit here in 1978, I have loved this island. When I lived in Lahaina from 1978 to 1982, I met so many lovely people and had so many unique experiences. During the early ’80s I lived two blocks from the ocean: I could go snorkeling every day. I loved sitting around with the local fishermen just talking story, sharing a few beers. Time was you couldn’t walk all the way around Lahaina boat harbor without someone sticking a beer in your hand. Of course I was much younger then, doing all the wild and crazy things young people do.
When I moved back in 2009, Maui had changed dramatically. New roads, big-box stores and way more people have Maui a different place to live. The beach where I snorkeled has been cut off by a housing development. Where once you could park and walk directly into Whaler’s Village in Kaanapali, you now have to pay to park in a three-story structure that blocks the view of the ocean. Lots of changes … very few for the good of the island.
This second time around, I lived on a mountain above Jaws in Haiku for a year. Although living in a community of other renters was interesting, I was pretty isolated. A far cry from the social life I led in Lahaina years earlier. But I’m older and hopefully wiser now, so the slower paced lifestyle fit me. Last year I moved to Hana, thinking I had finally found paradise. But Hana proved to be just a little too remote for me. If you are not part of an ‘ohana (family), it is hard to find a place to fit into the community. While I loved the beauty of the place and people, I learned that I need to be closer to city living where I can walk or take public transportation. I found that when I moved to Paia in December. I knew my stay here would be temporary; I planned long ago to return to California. But Paia has been a delight. I love walking to Mana Foods or having a meal at Cafe des Amis.
Each place I live, gives me clues as to what type of towns I will like in the future.
I have been so blessed with many new friends. These are people I never want to lose contact with. I cherish the good times we have had together. I know already I will miss them dearly.
I cannot help but be sad today as I close this chapter of my life. It’s not easy leaving Paradise behind. But I am excited by the prospect of moving forward in my 48 Places journey by moving to California. My plan now is to live in four different towns in California over the course of the next year. My goal is to learn enough Spanish to travel through Central America in 2012. I know I will make more friends, have great experiences and enjoy my time in California.
As I move from beautiful Maui, all I can say is “Maui no ka oi” (Maui is the best) and “Aloha” to all I leave behind.