Gimme shelter

Day 24: Cardiff-on-the-Sea to San Diego International Hostel, 31 miles

I’m up again with the sun, a short day ahead. I strike the tent, bid farewell to the Brits in the camp with me, and off down the road. Easy riding. I stop at the Solano Beach Coffee company, begin to dig into the next project, how to go into Baja. My mind is boggled. I’m looking into the unknown. Google maps are useless. As are most of the online forums. I’m getting emails from Torii who is staying with family in LA, Dave and Uschi are just passing San Luis Obispo, and my other friend David is riding to the border and back, ending his tour in San Diego.

I climb over Torry Pines Boulevard, past La Jolla, down the Rose Canjon Bikeway which parallels the busy 101 freeway. Then I’m into San Diego, down to Pacific Beach. I stop at a cool cafe on the boardwalk, catch some burnt coffee and a great breakfast burrito. Roll around the San Diego bayfront, gawk at the tall ships, the aircraft carrier, all museum pieces swarming with Sunday tourists.

Where next, where next? I’m weary of the road, of not knowing where to go, how to go, into the foreign lands south of the border. I admit to prejudice, all I’ve heard about Mexico, not just the dangers of drug cartels and gang wars, but also about the “third world”, but isn’t it the “second world”? But still, I have been sheltered in the American fantasy, that our wealth is deserved, that people who are in poorer circumstances somehow just were destined to that. No clearer expressed than over the last two days, cycling past Malibu and Newport Beach. Oppulence. Now I’m faced with a trip into, poverty? No, but people closer to the truth of self-sufficiency. Where excess is not a given. Where the basic needs, food, shelter, water, are closer to daily concerns. Basic needs are not a given. Something that must be worked for.

I’ve been in a tent for a month, save the couple days sleeping on the floor of a meeting room at Esalen, and the one host in Santa Cruz, and the boat in Marina del Rey. Voluntarily homeless. Back home, cleared my house, renting out the rooms before leaving. What do I have to come home to? A traveler, making my home on the road. Dependent on the kindness of strangers, to borrow from that classic by Tenessee Williams. And still, I’ve got a credit card and bank account, a community of friends and family to support me. Something the truly homeless do not have.

A hostel. A shimmering light on the dark path of the explorer. A bunk bed in a room of snoring men, a breakfast shared with international travelers. A respite on the path. I check in and am pleased to see David rolling in his bike, just back from a jaunt to the border. Loaded with bags, he has finished the Vancouver-Mexico border to border cycling tour. It’s so good to see him. We go out for dinner, get some mediocre Mexican food. I think it will be better in Baja. I’m still ambivalent, but as David says, I’ve told everyone I’m going to Baja, I’d better go! I’ve got some time, a couple days of respite at the hostel. To lay down, heal up my road weary legs. Off to bed for the night. I bid David farewell, he’s catching a train north, first in the morning.

One thought on “Gimme shelter

  1. I like this piece. The comparisons you make between the various towns and cities. The questioning of home. Very interesting insights. I think every American youth should travel for at least six months after high school. This insight is important to capture. It will help many realize we are not the only ones in the world.

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