It’s amazing what can happen to change your life in one week (or even just one day). Last Thursday I received an email from WorldTeach, informing me of my placement with the organization as a volunteer in Barranquilla, Colombia. Although I was prepared to gladly be of service anywhere WorldTeach needed me, I have been praying daily for this northern location, the 4th largest city in Colombia (and Shakira‘s hometown), as my home for the next year.
Upon reading the email, I jumped up and danced a wild jig with the dog, phoning my friend and screaming, “It’s Barranquilla! It’s Barranquilla!” The feeling is incredible when you express what you want, have faith and eventually it is delivered. Ask. Believe. Receive.
Still giddy from the news of Barranquilla, I decided to spend a 4-day weekend in San Francisco saying goodbye to old friends, reminding myself life is best lived when you feel awake and alive. Having borrowed a friend’s Bajaj 150 scooter while living in Sacramento, I agreed to return it by meeting the owner halfway.
“There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” ― Dr. Seuss (American author 1904 – 1991)
I took off for San Francisco on the Delta Road along the American River, CA-160 by way of County highway E9. Although Google Maps gave me several wrong directions (including a 2-lane country road that led to a dirt dead-end), and I rode at top speed with the sun directly in my eyes, I finally arrived safely in Fairfield to enjoy some tasty comida Méxicana while waiting to be picked up.
The next morning began with a holiday bang as SantaCon, the annual event where thousands of people in cities throughout the US dress as Santa Claus and create mayhem in the streets, took over Union Square and other parts of San Francisco. In addition to Santa, people dressed as Christmas trees, elves, gingerbread men, penguins and candy canes, all commandeering the bars and parks. The San Francisco Fire Department collected toys for charity, while kids walked around appearing to be mesmerized by so many Santas in one place.
One brave Santacon soul had snow made and brought to Duboce Park, where red-and-white outfitted participants staged a snowball fight. Although it seemed like a great idea, in actuality the snow smelled like dog poo and melted very quickly, while the snowmaker received several tickets including staging an un-permitted event and littering (because, obviamente, snow is litter). Bah Humbug, SFPD?
With Santacon 2013 deemed a success, I needed a break from beer and candy canes, and found the perfect place in one of my favorite SF neighborhoods, Clement Street, with its independent book stores and dim sum restaurants I achingly missed while living in México.
Blue Danube Coffee House provided a delicious cup of brewed warmth, but what I really enjoyed was discovering the Blue Danube Journals, a series of blank journals with decorative covers authored (often anonymously, with illustrations) by visitors to the café.
The weekend of holiday celebration continued, first with the San Francisco Scooter Girls’ Annual Holiday Party, where friends gathered to enjoy food and drink, as well as steal hilarious white elephant gifts from one another, including a large pillow printed with Nicholas Cage, purchased from Etsy.
Next on the celebration agenda was a company party at Gracias Madre, the delicious vegan Méxican eatery in the Mission district. At the invitation of mi amiga bonita Claudia, I enjoyed meeting Gracias Madre owners Matthew and Terces Engelhart, dancing with the staff to classic DJ “hits” (we like to party!), and eating copious amounts of meat-free sushi (sin mariscos, tambien, claro).
Winding down the weekend, I returned to Sacramento where I enjoyed a splendid dinner at Tres Hermanas with friends from the original Sacramento Craft Mafia, founded many years ago by Amy Cluck-McAllister. While we reminisced about early meetings at Coffee Garden (corporate sponsor of Kate Dana Colombia 2014) and the demise of the club due to “irreconcilable differences” among the members, we also gave great thanks for friendships that endure… definitely a craft only time can perfect.
Looking ahead, with 2 weeks to clear my remaining clutter before leaving for my new life/adventure in Colombia, I am counting the holiday blessings both given and received. I am overjoyed with the generosity of others, the support from other for what lies ahead, and the sincerity of friends both new and old. If it’s true that we receive what we give, then I look forward to days filled with wonder, laughter and love, glancing back occasionally, just enough to say thanks.
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” – Mae West (American actress 1893 – 1980)