Santacon y Más: Vivir la Buena Vida

Barranquilla desktop

I’ve had this on my desktop for months. St. Nicholas Square, Barranquilla

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.

Barranquilla prayer

My prayer, posted months earlier for daily review and Visioning®

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.

Delta Ride

CA-160 along the American River (only an hour off schedule)

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)


Break time: Guadalajara Fruit Bar and the Bajaj, Fairfield CA

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.


Say what? Santa Pyramid with Penguin topper in Union Square

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.

Tree trimming

They told me to look for the tree branch. Ha ha, very funny.

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?

Duboce Park Snowballs

Duboce park snowballs with Jerry! Note my Colombian and Méxican flags

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

Chandeliers, gold guild and tree branches!

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.

Blue Danube Journals

Blue Danube Journals and the coffee counter reflection

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.

Nic Cage pillow

Take that, Randy Pillowface Off McDonough!

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).

Gracias Madre

Claudia (top right) and her Gracias Madre compañeros!

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.

Sacto Crafty!

Original Sac Craft Mafia: Angelica, Lauren, Lorraine, KD and Amy

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)

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