I hate that I haven’t blogged in so long. I continually tell myself that I am going to spend some time writing in the evenings, during lunch breaks, on the weekends… it just hasn’t happened. And in the last few days, I’ve actually become quite disappointed at every missed opportunity because I truly enjoy writing. It’s not as though there have been unbelievably memorable things happening, but just the little things that make life interesting here.
A few weekends ago was most delightful for Andrew and I. For starters, it was a weekend that wasn’t filled entirely with rain. We are certainly in the midst of rainy season so that’s a big deal these days. We were invited to go to a Jazz brunch that Sunday by a friend named Mike. He told us it started at 2:00, which seems like an awfully late brunch time. That’s not even lunch time anymore. Nonetheless, Andrew and I were excited to do something completely out of the norm for us.
Mike showed up just after 2:00 and it took about 10-15 minutes to get to the place. It’s called the Angel Vally Bed & Breakfast in Los Angeles. As we pull up, a woman approaches us to ask what we’re there for. I thought that was kind of an odd way to greet guests. When we told her we were there for the jazz event, she told us it was over. It was from 12:00 – 2:00. Yikes. I was partially disappointed because I thought the music would be amusing. I do admit that after taking a glance at the crowd that was finishing up their food and sipping on coffee, and realizing nearly everyone was over the age of 50, I didn’t regret missing it too much. But as I look back on the whole experience, that’s such a dumb conclusion to come to. Maybe it wasn’t a young crowd, but it was hardly a boring crowd. Most people left within half an hour of us arriving tardy to the party. I kind of thought we’d take off after that too but we decided to hang around. After the band had packed up and nearly everyone was gone, there were seven of us left.
I’ve pondered writing a book before. I love to read and write. Every time I’ve read a book recently, I’ve thought to myself ‘I could do that.’ Now what exactly I’d write about… that has yet to be determined. But if I do write a book one day, this scene will make it in. The atmosphere, the characters, the dialogue, the laughs. Every last detail would make it into this book I have yet to write. To kick off the conversation, Mike brought up the late Steve Jobs and his impact on the world through technology and branding. Another guy starts talking about his time living in California and how his wife was one of the higher ups in Apple working alongside Steve Jobs. He talked about how wild it was to read his biography and know so much of the content first hand from the man himself.
One of the musicians stayed behind for what we dubbed as the “after party.” His name was Joe and he was exactly what you picture when you think of an Italian guy raised in Jersey. I had actually met Joe before at an event we hosted here at the mission but was fortunate to get to know him better that day. Though jazz might not be my preferred genre of music, he shared such an interesting period of history with us of growing up and playing gigs in New York in the 60’s. He talked of how delightful the Catskills are in the summertime. I’ve heard my dad say the same thing, so maybe I need to experience it myself one day. Joe was listing off all kinds of people he played with back in the day. I found myself hanging on every word and desperately wanting to take notes to research all the names and places he referenced. At one point, Joe turned to us and said “I bet you didn’t know that Michael Jackson got his moonwalk from Cab Calloway. I played with that guy and saw it firsthand.” I thought, who the heck is Cab Calloway?? Commit that to memory and don’t forget to look him up! Sure enough, Joe was right.
The owner of the bed and breakfast, Gary, finally took a seat with us to relax a bit after hustling all morning and afternoon for this event. I don’t know who I previously considered the most fascinating person, but Gary probably takes the cake at this point. All Mike had told us going into this is that he needed to make time to talk to Gary and get to know him better. Apparently, Gary was raised in Rhodesia, which is now known as Zimbabwe. He was one of the many white people of Zimbabwe to lose their land in the land reform time period decades ago. This, too, was something I was trying to grasp and retain while listening so that I could look into it further once I got home that day. This is a little before my time so I don’t feel too terrible for not understanding a lot of what Gary was referencing but basically the land reform was an effort to more equitably distribute land between the historically disenfranchised blacks and the minority-whites who ruled Southern Rhodesia from 1890 to 1979 (thank you Wikipedia). It’s one of those things that if it weren’t a documented part of history, you’d think it’s such a crock. After leaving Zimbabwe, Gary came to the US to study aviation in order to become a pilot. While flying into Alabama years ago, he recalled not being able to understand anything the air traffic controllers were saying. I got a kick out of that. The even funnier part was when he mentioned flying a bunch of football players somewhere in Alabama and hearing all about a guy named Bear… ha! Andrew was quick on the draw to fill him in on who that was. The only reason Gary was able to remember the name all these years was because it was an animal. Any who, he spent years working as a bush pilot back in Africa and still does safaris when he returns to visit. We toured the inside of the bed and breakfast and saw gorgeous portraits of animals hanging on the walls and heard all kinds of stories on what it took to get those pictures.
Gary went on to tell us about some of the places he’s travelled, which includes over 40 countries in Africa alone. He pointed to a motorcycle parked out in front and told us he had it shipped to South Africa, rode it up to Morocco, across to Egypt, and back down to the tip of Africa. That’s insane. We started talking about some of the most interesting places everyone had been. Clearly, there’s too many to count for Gary. Mike mentioned that the Door of No Return in Senegal was the most powerful place he has ever been in the world. Again, taking notes in my head at this point to research later. And after looking into it and hearing them talk about it, it’s officially on my list of places to see too should I make it to the part of Africa one day.
You can’t live abroad and have a conversation about where you’ve been without talking about how you got to where you are. How did we all land in Costa Rica in the first place? Everybody has a story to tell and let’s face it, it takes a ‘special’ kind of person to move to another country, to say the least. Exchanging those stories is always fun to me. It’s especially amusing to meet new people from all kinds of walks of life that have something seriously worthwhile to add to a conversation. Anyways, next time I get invited to a function with this crew, I may purposely show up once it’s over so I can hopefully get lucky enough to be a part of such interesting conversation again in the after party.