Saturday, May 23, 2009

More 'Ahhhhhh California'

More beautiful California. No big hikes today. My sister and brother-in-law brought me to Filola ( Fight, Love, Live), an estate built by the owner of a gold mine a century ago. I liked the house because although exquisitely designed and furnished, it felt like a home, it felt as if families had actually lived in it. The gardens were full of plants and flowers; everything grows well here. I was inspired. Will I have time to grow a garden in Quito? Ecuador is full of rose plantations, so I know that the conditions on the equator are excellent for growing things. Will gardening be one of my projects?

I flew from the northern to the southern part of the state today. The plane followed the coastline with mountains viewable outside my window. It was remarkable that there was so much of the land that was unpopulated, in such contrast to the area around San Jose in the north and Santa Ana in the south. It was interesting to see such a concentration of humans at the two extremes and such emptiness in the middle. It was peaceful to look out the window and compare what I saw to the appearance of the Andes. We often take a short 30 minute plane ride from Quito to San Francisco de Orellana (Coca) to get to the jungle. We have to climb from 9000 feet up over the Andes and then coast down into the oil town. As we climb, the hills are barren and empty, much like the mountains I see below me in California. We are sometimes in the clouds with the tips of snow covered volcanoes peeking out; on the other side of the Andean range, the mountains are covered with jungle and cloud forest before we land in the town. The rainforest is clearly disappearing, being hacked down to grow palm trees for the harvesting and exportation of hearts of palm. The mountains I see today only remind me of Andes insofar as they are a mountain range.

I land in Orange County and marvel at how absolutely lovely this place is. I lived in Newport Beach for a few years twenty years ago. I like the place now as much as I did then, and I understand why so many people want to live here, and come from all over the United States and beyond.

My friend Susan picked me up, and at dinner her husband kept pushing me to explain my reasons for going to Ecuador, and picked up on my ambivalence and doubts about the move. Perhaps he is simply articulating what I am feeling. I did not have answers to his questions, but he had some wise things to say, one of which is that time for me to either embrace this move, participate in it and decide to be positive and hopeful. Once I am 'on board', it will be easier for me and for Eric and for Maya. So to move forward, I have to be positive, and put aside my doubts.

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