Friday, February 25, 2011

The Stone Window

Once upon a time there was a beautiful garden. The garden was in a place far, far away. It was tucked amongst mountains and surrounded by the fiercest of seas. The garden appeared to be filled with magic. And as the story goes, mythical creatures lived there.

The garden had fruit trees and decorative flowers. Cobble stone paths and overflowing fountains. Vegetables and herbs grew in bounty and supposedly the mythical creatures would sleep in its olive grove.

The garden had a beautiful counter part, a castle. They complimented each other the way the stars compliments the dark night sky. However, unlike the dark night sky, the castle no longer teamed with human life. Its cold stonewalls have long been over grown with creeping ivy and its eves covered with spider webs.

From the castle there was only one window with a view of the beautiful garden. It has been said that from the window one could see the garden in its entirety and even its mythical creatures. The window was at the top of the castle’s tower, and the legend has it that the window held the most breathtaking view.

Now, the mythical creatures have never been seen before. The garden itself was so dense with vegetative life that even if searching on foot, the garden provided too many nooks and niches for the creatures to hide in.

The castle was just as intricate and impressive as the garden. It took nearly sixty people to keep the castle running. The way the tale has been told says that from well before daybreak to well after sunset, the people worked. Their King demanded perfection. And of course, the castle and garden alike reflected this.

It has been many years now since the castles King passed and since it’s keepers moved far away. The garden became over grown and the castle completely deserted.

Then there was Lord McGanzer, from across the sea. He heard of the empty castle and its beautiful garden. He wanted and needed it with every ounce in his rotund body. He didn’t care for the stories of the King’s mysterious death or the people’s exodus.

Lord McGanzer wanted to own and posses the garden, every inch. But more importantly, he wanted to climb to the top of the tower and see the mythical creatures from the stone window.

The people told him not to disturb the castle and that he would later regret his decision. However, Lord McGanzer was reckless and didn’t take heed to their advice.

His ships set sail across the fierce seas and he quickly moved into the castle. Lord McGanzer was frantic to climb the towers steps. As soon as he arrived, he barged through the castles entrance and nearly tripped on his jewel-encrusted robe.

The Lord climbed the twisting steps with out a shutter of hesitation. There was determination in each footstep. Breathing heavily, Lord McGanzer paused at the last step to wipe the sweat from his brow. Light was flooding in from the window and illuminating the small stone room.

The Lord had everything he could want. Even now he owned a large castle and possessed the most beautiful garden. But it wasn’t enough for Lord McGanzer.

As he moved to the window the jewels from his robe splashed vibrant colors of red, yellow and green on the grin, cold tower walls. Lord McGanzer searched desperately from the stone window. He neglected to appreciate the garden’s beautiful fruit and flowing water. He didn’t care for the magnificent magenta bougainvillea. He only wanted one thing. His eyes searched left and right like they were watching the seconds hand of an old clock ticking back and forth. With each passing moment he searched, the Lord began to feel weaker and weaker. The stone window was sucking the life from him.

Lord McGanzer tried to step back from the window, but his feet had already turned to stone. He couldn’t move his legs, they too became cold and rigid. He could feel the life being sucked from him but he continued to search out the window.

The stone crept to his stomach, and he ached with pain. The stone was now moving rapidly up his body. He could no longer move his arms or neck. His mouth turned to stone but his eyes kept ticking back and forth.

Just as the Lord’s eyes found the olive grove his nose turned to stone. His whole body was almost completely engulfed but his eyes quickly scanned the dozens of olive trees in the grove.

It was there, amongst the twisted and gnarled bark that Lord McGanzer saw a flash of iridescent color. It was the long colorful tail of a mythical creature. Lord McGanzer was not able to smile, raise his hands in glory or call to his people, but he had seen a mythical creature! Lord McGanzer probably was not the first, and unfortunately he will probably not be the last.

As soon as his eyes caught glimpse of the iridescent tail, he blinked and then they too were instantly turned to stone. His eyes to be closed forever. Lord McGanzer was now as cold and grim as the stonewalls in the small tower room. The light continued to flood through the window but it no longer illuminated the jewels on his robe. There were no more vibrant colors of red, yellow and green dancing on the walls. But there in the beautiful garden, tucked amongst the twisted and gnarled olive trees lay the mythical creatures, sleeping.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

“Julie? This is Baja Speaking”

“I was looking at the Spot online and I noticed that it didn’t move in forty five minutes,” my dad said, concerned slightly but more then that, I could hear the curiosity in his voice. Because I know my dad, I was anticipating his next question. “When I clicked the street view, it looked like a parking lot or something.” He went on, after a little pause, I think he wanted me to jump in, but I waited. “What where you doing there?” My dad finally asked.

Jordan has religiously been turning on his Spot. A GPS device his mom sent him off with. She would give Jordan her blessing only if he promised to turn the device on every morning. She worries sick about Jordan, but at least knowing where he is, the device updates every ten minutes, she has some peace of mind.

I had to think back, where were we? A parking lot? A little laugh came out as I repeated it back to my Dad. Huh, it feels like all I have seen in days has been dirt, sand and cactus. Emphasis on sand. No, emphasis on cactus. God, there has been so much of the two I don’t really know which one to emphasize more.

We have been traveling though miles and miles of desert. Desert that I have loved and cursed. Desert I have wished to spend an eternity in and desert I have wished to teleport myself out of. Desert filled with tall cardon cacti and rich with secret watering holes. But a parking lot?

“Oh, that could have been where we stopped for lunch.” I told my dad, while looking at his wild hair on the itouch. Skype is a beautiful thing. What he described as a parking lot was a type of shade cover, covering hundreds (probably thousands) of tomatoes from the desert’s harsh rays. We didn’t know at the time of the conversation, but all those poor tomatoes would have a premature ending to their already short-lived life.

Similar to the crazy weather that has been hitting the States, Baja has been having a cold snap of sorts as well. It was when we bumped into a majestic, cowboyfarmer (intentionally put as one word) a few weeks ago, that Baja first spoke clearly to me. He told us that he lost everything due to frost in early February. All the acres, hectares rather, that he worked so hard on. All the corn, garbanzo beans, and of course tomatoes, gone. All of them. “Lo siento,” Jordan said, always trying to use his Espanol. The cowboyfarmer, seasoned in life’s lessons, let out a smile that would warm your heart. He wasn’t worried about his lost crops, or what the following months would bring. He looked truly happy. A moment I will always remember.

The same life lesson, taught by the cowboyfarmer, was told to us yet again. This time by a Spanish bike tourist, traveling already 13 months from the tip of Patagonia. We crossed paths with him somewhere between La Paz and Constitution. He told us a devastating story of how he got caught in an earthquake in Chile. It was the following tidal wave that caused most of the damage. The wave took his bike, everything! The only thing he had left was the clothes he was wearing and his handle bar bag. But slowly everything got pieced back together. Someone gave him a bike. A traveling couple passed on their waterproof bags. Someone else gave him a brooks saddle, everything, it all came together. Wow. I couldn’t believe it. Not only that, then he said, “Yeah, I was robbed twice too!” I probably grabbed my mouth or something, eeep, twice?! I was thinking. He just shrugged though, and then from ear to ear was the same smile splashed across his face, the same smile that the cowboyfarmer had. “Yeah, I was robbed twice, once at night and once on the bus, but both were non-violent. I lost my wallet and passport, the whole bit, but those things are all replaceable.”

I thought the story was truly inspiring. He emphasized that the most important thing was that he wasn’t harmed in any of it. Not the earthquake, not the tidal wave, and not the robberies.

If Baja was trying to tell me something here, I don’t think she could be clearer. But I guess The Baja herself wanted to be sure I got the lesson, so she showed me a third, yes a third time.

Just as we arrived in Todo Santos we saw a large bellowing cloud of smoke just a few blocks away. Acey, Jordan and myself headed to get a closer look. Well us, along with all the town’s kids, animals and not far behind, fire fighters, police and the ambulance.

The house was up in flames, the boat was engulfed and there were people all around spraying their lawn hoses like it was their job. The guy whose house it was was out surfing and came running up with his wetsuit on. His wife was in tears and ran towards him. The first thing he says was “Such is life,” and shrugged, just like the Spanish guy. The wet suited dude and his wife embraced. “At least you are okay,” he said grabbing her shoulders and looking into her eyes.

My dad always loves the details. “Well what kind of boat was it?” He asked. I see this trait in myself, I get it from my pops. I always like knowing the details too. “I don’t really know what kind it was but it looked like it was going toxic, all that fiberglass and varnish, it was a goner, but a nice boat indeed.”

I’m now thinking of my things. All that stuff that belongs to me. The things that I meticulously pack into my BOB trailer everyday. The things I have at my parent’s house. The things I couldn’t get rid of and have safely stored in Colorado. I’m thinking of how much I need them and how it seems I couldn’t survive with out them. It’s all rather silly though.

More and more I am drawn to the idea of living with less. A simpler life. And more and more I think it is truly one of the keys to happiness. I don’t know if I should thank my parents for conceiving the brother that I have and love so much, the one who, if not for him I would not even be sitting here in Todo Santos typing, or if I should thank the cowboyfarmer and Spanish cyclist for sharing their stories. More then thinking of who I should be thankful for or to, I am happy to be alive and constantly learning and growing from life’s lessons.

Baja told me this lesson through three stories but it seems I could have easily been standing out in the desert. Simple as that, I could have looked up to the sky, and then closed my eyes, I could have felt the desert’s rays on my face. “Julie, This is Baja speaking.” The enchanting voice would be coming from the vast expanse of sky but the lesson could have been whispered in my ear. It was basically as clear as that.