California. You can’t beat it. It is the coolest of places. I have been here many times before, but have never spent any significant time around Los Angeles.
My final destination is Ojai, CA, and it’s awesome. I rent car at Sixt – yes they have made it to the US – and the most friendly rental agent Marco upgrades me to a white BMW, to make sure that I am properly carred up for the wedding I will attend in Ojai. “You’re from Germany and you’ve come all this way. We’ve gotta let you go to this wedding in a proper car.”
Off I drive and feel the power of LA, not only because of the traffic. This is a place where things happen. You just feel it.
My two hour drive takes me along Camarillo to the Pacific Ocean at Ventura, and then up into the Mountains to Ojai. I pull off the road shortly before getting to my final destination and buying some stuff at the liquor store, and here only Spanish around me. Mexico is close. This is a different part of the country.
I arrive at the Casa Ojai Inn, and feel great because I think I’m just in time for the “Brews before I Do’s”, but I am not, because I messed up my agenda and forgot that California’s three further hour behind Germany. So as I ask the other guests where the shuttle to the Brewhouse leaves, and they look at me quite astonished, saying “oh that was three hours ago”. Just great.
What do I do? I contact the aunt of the groom, Bhanu Harrison, who stays at the same hotel and waves across the parking lot. We have never met before, but we connect immediately. We spend a lovely dinner evening together with her daughter Rachel and Rachel’s partner, Max.
This may be a good time to explain why I am actually here. In fact in March, I received an invitation to this wedding. The groom is the great grandson of my grandfather‘s close friend Rolf De le Roy.
The friendship has trickled through the generations and has created repeated encounters between us descendants throughout the decades. However, the groom and I only met once in our lives, and he was three years old at the time. I felt honored to be invited and decided to go. I’m happy to tell you more about it, if you like.
The next morning, I spend exploring Ojai which is in alternative place clearly with Mexican style architecture and lots of arts and craft stores, Little thrift shops, restaurants and bars. It is also a spiritual place from any, because it is allegedly one of the very few places in the world that are located along a so-called ley line.
I discover a wonderful little jewelry store that is owned and run by an impressive lady called Ruth, And I spend a nice moment talking with her and her friend Sharon about Germany to which they are connected generations back.
This is followed by a late steak sandwich lunch at Bonnie Lou’s, an awesome place, where I meet a young couple that engages in a lively conversation with me. The Americans really are the world champions in opening up to others making it easy to interact and meet.
People, this wedding was so worth the long trip: A beautiful venue, a serene and inspiring Hasidic wedding ceremony, a Mariachi band that makes the heart sing, incredibly kind, smart and free spirited people, many with connections to Stanford and Berkeley. It’s another world. It’s that West Coast mind set. Intense conversations about the status of the world end of the USA, its gun lobby and its criminal system, the economic approach to ecology, civic courage, homecoming, the Eisbären, and much more…
After a fabulous outdoor dinner and a few moves on the dance floor, the shuttle takes us to the Ojai Pub, where we continue until late at night, and once they close up, we continue on the patio of my hotel room and later near the pool. When I go to bed, I realize that I’ve forgotten my camera at the pub. I run back in my tux along the dark and empty main street of Ojai. Feels like a Hollywood movie. The pub is closed of course. So how to get this sorted out? What about all the photos, not to mention the camera. The place only opens when I will be sitting on the plane to Amsterdam. Luckily, the next morning, while going for a detox run, I see someone through the window in the kitchen of the place. He takes care of me. Contacts the owner. Finds the camera. What a relief!
Time to check out. Out of my hotel. Out of Ojai. Out of the USA. The party is over. It is time to go home.