These past couple of days have been some of the most surreal and unreal days in recent memory.
We went to the Border Patrol, which guards the border between USA and Mexico. Part of the trip included a tour to the actual border - fence after fence to block the other side. It's so weird that we could see parts of Mexico from where we were, touch it even (holes in the fence...Mexico was warmer)...we were so close, and yet still so separated.
After that we went to the Mission Beach to do a clean up for that night's bonfire. While picking up cigarette butts (tons of them), one guy, around his 50s came up to us on his cycle. I said "Hi", and he talked about how I should "feel as good as [I] look". And something about lovely feelings coming from my heart. I wasn't sure if he was being friendly or being strange. (Especially since he kept moving his bike to wherever I was at.)
Later that evening the rest of the crew showed up, and we explored the beach for a while. Rob and Noelle proposed a trip to the rollercoaster, and immediately I went "Yes, I'll go". This is unusual; my first instinct when it comes to rollercoasters is "NO WAY". I don't know what clicked in me, but the next thing I know, I'm paying $5 to sit next to Nina and experience zero-G turns. She told me that they did a Huddle in a rollercoaster one time; that must have been something.
It wasn't that bad, really.
The bonfire was toasty...almost melted our faces off (that was supposed to happen to the marshmallows) but still comforting as well. There was a sense of community, communal primitiveness...back to our roots, back to where we came from.
While walking back from the restroom that night I encountered a man with a metal detector. I asked him what he was looking for; he responded saying he looked for rings and watches and other metal objects, jsut for the fun of it. Somehow that segued into a conversation about evolution vs creationism, and I ended up being the subject of a witnessing - he's trying to convert me to Christianity, dammning me to Hell if I don't accept Jesus in my heart. It got really uncomfortable when he mentioned how the "seed of a woman and the seed of a man come together for a child" and used us as examples, but I couldn't get away, he just kept going on and on...thankfully Christie, Elizabeth, and Joyce came by to rescue me. I would have been stuck there forever otherwise.
The next day we were hanging around Balboa Park - add another place to the List Of Science Museums To Visit. There was a United Nations Gift Shop there, but to my dismay the only thing remotely Malaysian they had were a flag and a pin.
I've ended up starting a collection of good luck charms; a bats head root from Denver, a miraglos (small metal offering of Kokoapeli) from Albuquerque, a bear paw necklace from Phoenix, and now a jade lotus from San Diego. Unexpected miracles. We saw a rainbow soon after, so it's starting to work its magic.
We then went to the Juvenile Detention Center. A bit of chaos with IDs since not everyone had a passport on them. Everyone in a hurry as we walked past the hallways and the doors. It was aboslutely bone-chilling; the place was sparse and bleak, with barely anything to provide motivation or at least good cheer. No privacy in the bathrooms; an anti-suicide room that was just a block of cement. Strip searches for everyone, whether you were there for murder or for missing school. Degrading and humiliating. Such a contrast to the Denver Children's Home or ValueOptions, where at least there is incentive to move on.
I'll never forget that Center.
We had people from Survivors Of Torture International come in and speak about their work and about torture in general. I didn't know Malaysia had a refugee camp for the Vietnam War. It was odd how the US government makes a distinction between refugees and political asylum seekers...one gets immediate help, the other gets tossed into a detention center. And yet they are there for the same reason; to escape torture and find a better life.
(Refugees are sent from a refugee camp in a secondary country. Political asylum seekers come on their own volition.)
Blenton Belk, founder of Up With People, came and talked to us about his experiences. He promised the world; a meeting with Princess Margarite of the Netherlands and the Pope, doing a summer camp in the Netherlands, performing in Jordan...I'm still not sure if any of them will happen, but at least he had a good cheer about it all. He was very surprised about my double representation; especially since they were interested in working with Islamic countries and I happen to represent two of them.
Tonight I shall be performing in Bangla. Something surreal in itself.