Aug. 27, 2006: Sunflowers and Rainy Horizons

Sunflowers and Rainy Horizons
Sunday, Aug. 27, 2006

Hi y’all!
    Yeah, it’s been a really long time since I’ve written a group email. Let’s see, when I last wrote I was on my way back to California after a detour to Miami, right? Ok, well, lots has happened since then, so I’ll have to give you the reader’s digest version.

    The best way to summarize the 3 months in San Francisco maybe is to say that I felt like a seed planted in really good soil. Maybe a sunflower, digging in roots and stretching toward the sun, easily, happily, bountifully. Everything I wanted or needed seemed to come effortlessly, and I found myself surrounded by people who inspired me, lots of love, and a home space that felt absolutely perfect. I danced, went to parties, threw parties, went on weekend excursions, planted a rooftop garden, worked, saved money, played with my friends, and basked in the sun that shone pretty much every day at 24th and Shotwell. It was good days.

    So why did I leave? I’ve asked myself that a few times, especially on the days when I’m sitting in my tent, bundled up in the cold and waiting for the rain to stop. Luckily, there haven’t been too many of those days, and all in all I’m happy to be back in Europe on another adventure. And I only subletted, the plan is to come home at the end of September.

    First stop, Ecotopia. It was in the mountains of Slovakia this year. It was great to see old friends, and it’s always so interesting to see how everyone has changed in a year, myself included. Every Ecotopia has been a different experience for me, and this year I found myself skipping the workshops and morning circles to just hang around the campfire all night, singing and talking to people. There comes a point when you already know all you want to about straw bale houses, the G8, and vegan nutrition, and you just don’t care anymore whether we’ll cue up for dinner or arrange ourselves in a circle. But people always fascinate me, especially people from so many different cultures and perspectives. And nature never gets boring, so I disappeared to go wander through fields of wildflowers and down little forest paths whenever the weather seemed inviting.

    Usually Biketour ends at Ecotopia, but this year there’s a Biketour before and after the gathering. I skipped the Lithuania-to-Slovakia leg to bask in San Francisco, but had planned to cycle from Ecotopia through Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia. I ended up taking a bit of a detour, though. Thinking I was going to meet some friends in Berlin, I headed to the capitol of Slovakia, the beautiful little city of Bratislava, with my Biketour buddy, Barry. From there we cycled to Vienna (5 hours from the capitol of Slovakia to the capitol of Austria, with cycle paths almost the whole way!).  But we had some logistical issues with getting from Vienna to Berlin, and so here I am, 8 days later, still here in my friend Johanna’s flat in the very pretty city of Vienna. But no complaints. It’s been a great week, largely nocturnal, with lots of dancing and festivity, nice people and pre-sunrise visits to all-night bakeries.

    So here I am, bicycle packed, time to go meet up with Biketour in Hungary and cycle with them to Slovenia and the Croatian coast. I’m just a wee bit nervous to tell the truth. I went to the train station to buy a ticket to Budapest and got so annoyed with the train system that I decided to boycott it. You have to know which questions to ask and stand in a different queue for each question. But you can’t buy tickets without a reservation if you have a bicycle, and no, you can’t even take that train with a bicycle. Stand in the reservation line and pay 7 euros for a reservation, but the reservation guy can’t tell you which days have discount tickets left. After literally standing in 5 different queues only to find out the price is three times higher because of my bicycle and their various restrictions, I vowed to cycle to Hungary. After all, that’s why I’m here with a bicycle, right? To ride it, not to lug it onto trains.

    But I’ve never been to Hungary, I don’t speak a word of Hungarian, I’ll be camping and I don’t even have a phrase book. I’m alone again, Barry having taken off to follow his new love to some Greenpeace action in Poland or Lithuania or somewhere. Big dark clouds are haunting the horizon, and it’s warm and cozy here in Johanna’s flat with my mug of hot tea and bar of dark chocolate. Standing on the edge of that familiar shift between urban revelry and a return to nature, meditation, and lots of exercise…

Ok, I’ll go tomorrow…