In May and June of 2016, Dimitri and I drove the amazing state of California, visiting friends and colleagues and family, and experiencing an addictive mix of love and serendipity. To read this travel journal from the beginning, click here.
Day 2: Saturday, May 21st
San Diego with Troy
It’s Saturday morning in sunny San Diego. Troy has suggested we meet at the meditation gardens at the Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas. We quickly learn that there is so much good in that single sentence, it’s worth breaking it down.
First and most importantly, Troy. Troy Alford has been in our lives for going on a decade (amazing just to think about that). His wisdom and insight, his gentle manner, his rich appreciation for life, his uncanny ability to cut to the heart of a matter – these are just a few of the reasons we are giddy at the thought that we get to spend a whole day with Troy.
Second, Encinitas. It makes perfect sense that a place that unabashedly calls itself the Self-Realization Fellowship would locate in Encinitas. Gift shops and bookstores overflow with the natural, the spiritual, the handmade. Encinitas provides a glimpse into the mindful, artistic, earth-given beauty of what it means to be a human on this planet.
And then third, the meditation gardens – winding paths along a cliff overlooking the ocean. A woman taking a selfie tells me, “I always bring my mom here when she’s in town. When I come here without her, I always send her a selfie, so she can be here with me.”
Families of every nationality, babies and old people, jeans and sneakers and bright magenta saris – all quietly strolling, sitting, whispering and yes, meditating on a sunny Saturday. In the water below, dots of surfers wait for waves. And the gardens themselves display red and yellow, violet and white, pink and orange, all placed with care among 50 shades of green.
Winding our way down from the cliff, we head to brunch at the Lotus Café. As a vegetarian, I’m used to opening a menu, finding the one thing I can eat, and ordering that. At the Lotus Café, I am overwhelmed by their extensive veggie options. Finally I ask if they will just put a bunch of my favorite things in a bowl, and voila! My own personal breakfast of quinoa and beans and greens, poached eggs and veggie sausage, topped with homemade salsa.
The story of the sea lions is a testimony to the Pollyanna Principle that everything is interconnected and interdependent, whether we think it is or not. In the 1930’s, a local philanthropist paid to construct a sea wall, to provide children in the area a safe place to play at the beach. Officially called Children’s Pool, that play-zone began filling with sand, creating less and less beach for the kids, and more and more protected area for seals. In recent years, the sea lion colony in La Jolla has numbered between 200-300.
And they look so adorable! I do know that when we strip away the anthropomorphized stories we tell ourselves, these beasts are, in fact, big and wild. Local news stories talk about the seals with words like aggressive and nuisance. To the tourist’s eye, though, this is an idyllic place, filled with the sort of wildlife one rarely gets to see close up, across the street from pricey townhomes, pubs and shops.
Troy leads us from the sea lions to the tidepools, a place that demands we slow down and notice. And there is much to notice! Crabs and anemones and brightly colored barnacles. We find a rock where we can dangle our feet and just talk for an hour or so against a backdrop of kids with shovels and pails and nets, exploring the world first hand.
And then it’s dinner time, where we get to do the best thing ever – just sit for 3 hours, the La Jolla breeze around us, eating wonderful Tibetan food, watching people stroll by, and spending 3 delicious hours in conversation with Troy.
We leave Taste of the Himalayas just in time to watch the sun go down over our first day in California. And we can’t help but imagine… If this is to be the norm – this magical combination of a beautiful human, beautiful surroundings, beautiful wildlife, beautiful food and beautiful serendipity – how will we possibly contain our joy over this coming month?
To follow along on our journey, head to Day 3 here.