Thursday, August 6, 2009


Old Spanish Days, or Fiesta for short, is on this week as it has been after the earthquake and rebuilding of 1925. Yesterday I went to El Mercado del Norte, one of two daytime events, with the usual carnival rides (the kids were having a great time on the bungee jump!), Mexican food stands, and dancers on stage. The gloriously colorful (and well-made) costumes and dances of several Mexican states went around first, from tiny beginners to adults (there are about six dance clubs/studios dedicated to this art here; many begin as preschoolers and continue into their forties). Next were more polished groups presenting flamenco (with live musicians) and rhumba. Chomping on a churro, this anglo had a great time.
Ron and Claire's extra-nice neighbors, Eric and Chris, took their sons and me to the big official opening event on the lawn between the rose garden and the Mission (the Queen of the 18th-century California missions, the only one still staffed by Franciscans). We were pretty far from the stage set up in front of the facade with the magnificent twin bell towers, but it was splashed with colorful light to highlight the dancers and musicians, and the sound was perfect, so with a full moon behind us it was a magic evening. The above lady in the all-white flamenco dress is this year's Spirit of Fiesta, Daniela Zermeno. I wish I could have found and posted the picture that was on the front page of the paper today, with her twirling a gigantic white shawl. If I lived here, I'd have a caballero's outfit, for sure. You know, the Zorro look!
At 7 a.m. this morning, my new bud Eric showed me how to get on the trail around the Mesa that the horse riders use (step CAREFULLY), a blissfully serene 5-mile amble which on one part runs right along the cliff edge overlooking the ocean. We found lots of wild fennel; the tiny new leaves taste exactly like black licorice. Pelicans were diving, precisely, to ruin some fish's day, but we didn't see any dolphins or whales, or any more than two other humans. Reading the paper after returning, I learn that great white sharks are now plentiful in the Channel, and are nipping at sea lions and harbor seals. Good thing the water's too cold to go out in!

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