Friday, June 6, 2008

Dancing Through the Concrete Jungle

I am now at a library in the quiet beach town of Ventura after quite a ride. I made it through the concrete jungle of Los Angeles, with the help of a few vehicles and friends, and am now in my fourth county thus far. (Tomorrow I will actually be in my fifth as I make way into Santa Barbara!) I made the conscious decision to ride on a few buses to get through parts of LA, for I would have been walking through the industrial LA Harbor and most likely been stuck on the streets at night, as there is no beach camping or hostels near by. I stayed with my friend Ty again and his family in both Huntington and Longbeach, and then said goodbye as he set off for his own journey to farm in Costa Rica. Thank you for your generous hospitality and valuable friendship, bon voyage brother! I then walked and hopped on the Metro to Venice Beach, where I met up with my friend Sean, whom I worked with last summer with Environment California. This turned out to be a full day of walking, waiting, and busing through the craziness of LA. I could not believe how inefficient the public transit system is, in a city with such terrible traffic and pollution. It was quite an interesting ride as I met some strange folks, and journeyed through Compton, Inglewood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and so on. I finally made it to Venice and met up with Sean just in time for the infamous Sunday night drum circle of dancing on the beach and a wild night of fun in Venice.

I set out from Sean's place and headed north through the affluent town of Malibu, on my longest day of walking so far, 23 miles! Spotted some dolphins again in the early morning, mid-asana. The beginning of my walk consisted of dodging the tide along ridiculously luxurious coastal homes, each with their own private beach access. I'd say at least half of the homes today were going through renovations and had Mexicans working out on the deck. I spent all afternoon smiling, saying "hola" and "como estas" as they were all very friendly. About half of the walk today was spent along the shoulder of the Pacific Coast Highway, and half on the sand. I was getting real hungry for lunch and was confronted with eating fish tacos as they were highly recommended at the local seafood joint. The idea sounded delicious, however, once I got up to the restaurant, I could not pull myself to do it. The seas are drastically being over-fished due to human consumption and I decided I wouldn't be supporting it that day. I reached a coastal access staircase along the road where I collapsed to the ground for a rest. I looked down and noticed a professional photo shoot taking place on the beach. Just then, I heard what sounded like the Mexican Ice-Cream Man, as a Taco Truck came and pulled up right beside me, blasting a Spanish tune. It's truly unbelievable how things just pop up at the perfect time when you're on the road. Things have a funny and beautiful way of always working out. I got a delicious veggie burrito and chocolate milk, and the kind women even through in some free chips and guac! I headed back to the staircase to chow down. I looked down and realized there was actually a topless photo shoot taking place. So here I am, chomping down a burrito, reading my Diamond Sutra, while below me is this model, half naked and sprawled out on the sand with some blond surfer model in underwear laying on top of her. It was quite a funny scene, and a delicious burrito. I continued north through ritzy Malibu, with million dollar homes and cars zooming by me. Everybody staring at this wandering dharma bum. After walking along some beautiful shorelines, I reached the magnificent Point Dume. I hiked up the steep wooden steps and sandy trails to the top which offered a spectacular 360 degree view of the area. While taking it all in, I met three businessmen, one of which said he grew up surfing in OB! They wished me well and I hiked down to the other side of the cliff to Zuma Beach, where I rested for a little while. I walked a couple miles and then actually hitch-hiked for the first time. A friendly couple whom I had asked for directions at a gas station, pulled me over just ahead and offered a ride up to the campground. They said they were headed north and I was so exhausted I jumped right in. After much hesitation, I have decided to ride in vehicles sparingly. Like John Francis told me on the phone, it's not as if I'm giving up riding in cars for 22 years. This is my own pilgrimage and I've got to do what feels right for me. So I'm going to attempt to travel leaving as light of an imprint as I can, without killing myself. This may include riding on a bus or hitch-hiking here and there. As a guideline, I will only ride in a vehicle if it is already heading north. That way no real extra gas will be burned by my decision to ride. The bulk of my journey will definitely still be on foot.

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