Friday, November 02, 2007

Back in business

I would apologize for my absence but I am not sure if anyone is reading this - so, why apologize. Rather, let's journal about what has been happening since... the last time. Journey wise, there was the trip to the Balkans. We visited my beloved Romania with a short, 3 days detour in Bulgaria. Oh, the Balkans...

Romania or Roumania or Rumania. As you like it. Dracula's country and that was, of course, something my wife needed to come to terms with. So, we visited "Dracula's Castle" or Bran Castle (as Romanians know it). A fierce castle overlooking a steep valley from the top of a fiery rock. Intimidating as intimidating can be.
Now, once you get in, it turns out that the frightening exteriors are just that: a facade... as the living quarters are all lovely and warm and cozy. Painted walls (instead of the bare rock one would expect), warm carpets, wall decorations? It so happens that in the early twentieth century the castle was given as a gift to Queen Maria of Romania who felt that its surly character needed a change and off she went... the result would make the queer eye for the straight gay nod in approval. And there it is, in all its glory, like a dog that barks but does not bite: looking fierce from a distance but wagging its tail and licking your hand as soon as you approach it.
Now, in case you are interested, the castle is for sale. Which irritates the heck out of me as I can envision some fancy hotel chain or just some rich Joe and Jane getting it and wiping off 8 centuries of history only because they can affort to do so...

© Copyright Adrian Preda, M.D.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Then we talked about California and Mexico and how, all of a sudden, as soon as one crosses the border, the feeling of being alone, even when in a crowed place, that seems to characterize life in North America, changes. South of the border, one feels part of something (bigger), a community of sorts, like back home - and how opposite this is to the American gestalt where emptiness, inner and outer, but emptiness nevertheless, seems to prevail.

Back in Connecticut, I remember trying to go to the beach and feeling weird, bored out of my mind, empty and lonely, even if there were people around. Curious, I thought. But I didn't make much out of it until a few years later, when my family visited. One day, I took them all to the beach. And they have beautiful beaches back home and it is hard to find someone who does not like going to the beach... Yet, despite all this, after a few hours, when I came to pick them up from the beach, they all told me that they hated it. "There is nothing here", they said. And I tried to disagree, pointing to the waves and the golden sand, and the birds, but deep down I knew well what they were talking about and I agreed.
A friend of mine had a theory about why one feels empty in so many places in the US. He used to attend American Indian sacred dances or, at least, so he bragged. Regardless, he told me about this one thing that he learned from the Indians, which was: when the feeling of emptiness comes, the place might feel empty because the spirit of the land might be dead. Not only the Indians, but the spirit was killed by the colonists. Leaving hollow places, shells growing empty while filling up with people who could not care less. Where there less Indian killings in California? Could this be why the land feels so beautiful and soothing to the soul? As maybe, beyond its beauty, there is spirit that somehow survived to this day...

How I wish to be right...

© Copyright Adrian Preda, M.D.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rosarito, Puerto Nuevo and back

A first - crossing the Mexico border by car. Port of transit: the (in)famous Tijuana. We decide that it made sense to rent a car instead of taking a chance in driving our luxury cars with shinny new CA plates to the Mexican desperado heaven. The cheaper and smaller - the better. It turns out that Alamo ran out of compacts and we got automatically upgraded to the flashiest red Mustang you can think off. To top it off, they do not offer insurance for Mexico. I consider briefly begging them to either not upgrade me or give me my money back but picturing the face the Alamo clerk will give me I choose to keep my Miranda. So, there we are, driving what I see as a trouble bait in Gods forsaken Tijuana. It turns out that Tijuana is a perfectly decent place - at least in what concerns undue attention to a flashy red Mustang. Or maybe the fact that I eventually got Mexican insurance from an on line site just makes me feel better about the whole thing (even though, in reality, I wonder if the site that charged my card offers any real products other than efficiently charging credit cards). Oh, well... all is well that ends well.

Rosarito - where we have initially planed to stop - is literally screaming with drunken teenagers in spring break so we pass. The fact that a decent motel charges $98 (yes, American dollars!) a night, really makes it into a no brainer.
We settle for Castillos del Mar- a charming little motel overlooking the beach, with a strong hacienda like flavor, and a a semi-private beach just south of Rosarito. About 15 minutes away from the well reputed, for good reasons, Puerto Nuevo lobster places. Good lobster sprinkled with fresh margaritas and Negro Modelo ($40 for dinner for two), strolling mariachis (you name the price), the ongoing picturesque local crafts live exhibition ($10 in gift shopping) with a night in a Mulholland drive like hotel right on the beach ($78 a night) and the Mexican spirit infusing it all (for free).

All this, and more, less than 4 hours away from the spiffy and way too self conscious OC. My take on it: take one now. And, don't worry about Mexican insurance: if you are like me (i.e. relatively aware of living in a relatively unsafe world) you will find Mexico is not only safe but warm and welcoming at the same time.

© Copyright Adrian Preda, M.D. 

Monday, February 12, 2007

February in OC

Another day in Paradise. It is cold in OC today. The oranges are dying. My central air-heating is broken; funny, how many times does one expect to use it here? Not many, yet when the time comes, like now, well, it is not working. Yet, I have a way to keep warm tonight: I only need to remember my frozen winter nights in Ceausescu's Romania.

On a completely different topic, for the news:

© Copyright Adrian Preda, M.D.

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