Thursday, October 23, 2008

Joedy and I are realizing we're not very stoked on Ventura. This isn't really a surprise, because we knew V-town would pale in comparison to Santa Barbara in many ways, but it still is kind of unsettling--I mean, we just moved here.

Neither of us care for the big-box/franchise stores that are everywhere and the general lack of aesthetics and greenery. It's often very windy and there are too many cars. We like the downtown and the parks we've been to, but you have to drive on the freeway to get there, and then you run the risk of getting shot by a white guy with a tattoo on his neck (my personal fear).

We miss the feeling of community we had in SB. After living there twelve years, we got to know a lot of people and could count on seeing familiar faces at Arigato or The Paradise Cafe; Jose Luis, the manager of Carlito's, would always give us hugs and treat us like old friends. And then there are our real friends, too, whom we rarely see even though we're just 30 miles away.

It's not disappointing to not like Ventura, because we moved here knowing we'd feel this way. We didn't move here thinking we'd want to stay very long--in fact, we hoped we would find it unpleasant, because that would give us more motivation to make the "big move," the big move out of the country, hopefully, that we've been talking about so long and that has been put off partly because Santa Barbara, with its relentless charm, sucks you in and doesn't let you go.

We hoped being in Ventura would stir things up, make us try harder to fulfill the dream of living somewhere different: in a place, preferably, where people are less gun-happy, less frighteningly religious, and less money-driven. A place where more value is placed on living than on working, and where the importance of nature is a given, not subject to debate. A place where the general mode of thought is "we're in this together," not "you're in this alone."

For a long time we thought about moving to France, where one of the main attractions was being close to my family. Moving to France, though, is not something you can just do, especially if you're not a French citizen. Unless you're independently wealthy, you need to find a job there, and even that doesn't guarantee long-term staying rights. The best thing, of course, is to marry a French person, and for a while Joedy and I considered that, but neither of us really felt like entering the dating scene again.

When France seemed too unrealistic, we started thinking about other places we'd like to live. After we visited and lengthily debated the merits of Puerto Rico, Joedy went on a surf trip to Costa Rica. It was his third time there, and he came back raving about the people, the affordability, the beauty, and what seemed to him a unique perspective on life. It was like going back in time, he said, while remaining in the modern world. There was a strong feeling of "work to live" and of community; the people were as friendly and warm as the Puerto Ricans we'd met; love of nature was an obvious and unifying force. He woke up to monkeys shrieking in the jungle, he ate fish caught from the warm blue ocean, and he noticed that everyone seemed pretty relaxed and happy. Even the federale who demanded Joedy's wallet insisted on giving all his money back.

We've done a lot of research on Costa Rica and it seems pretty great. It has a high literacy rate, it got rid of its army and all its guns--yes, I said all its guns--years ago, it has a good healthcare system, and it has gobs of flora and fauna. And if you're not Costa Rican but you have a baby there, you can become Costa Rican.

It sounds perfect, but of course you have to figure out the work thing, too. We know what we'd like to do--start a children's library--but there are so many hurdles. Where do we start?

In Ventura, apparently, in October 2008.

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