The Natives of Shangri-La | California | Living in Mexico

The Natives of Shangri-La

The populace of Santa Barbara, consisting mainly of ordinary (?) Californians and tourists, is liberally seasoned with more noteworthy types. For example, peace demonstrators. Here's a veteran on his Harley-Davidson Personal Mobility Device.


He's followed by a small clump of chanting, drumming protesters.


It all seemed low-key and friendly until a guy wearing desert storm fatigues riding a chopper began tracking them, revving his unmuffled engine, shattering the quiet and warmth of the street.

Street musicians played for dollars at a nearby farmers' market. The accordion player's chords were disconnected from the melody; a perfect disconnect of left and right brain.


The blues player's great sound was interrupted by an enthusiast who wanted him to hear something on his iPod—a polka no doubt.


A substantial Mexican community made us feel right at home. Up at the mission, I caught a young girl on the way to her quinceañera.


Downtown a festival of some kind was forming up. A stage with scores of speakers was setting up. Some band members waited in their natty suits for things to start.


The ear-splitting music got to Samantha's mother, Sandy, who was staying in a nearby motel. She reported that her Australian Shepherd, Harry, was frightened by the noise and wouldn't get out of the car.

Along the West Beach Esplanade, the Sunday art walk was in full swing. Here, Jean considers some bad art while the artist looks on hopefully.


Nearby, kids play in the skateboard park. The money that goes into recreational facilities is huge. In San Miguel, I doubt that there's a single soccer field with grass. In Santa Barbara, there probably isn't one without.


State Street, a pleasant street lined with cafes and restaurants, fielded the usual panhandlers and homeless.


Meanwhile, a retired gent slumbers on a bench, oblivious to passing throngs of tourists and shoppers.


He obviously places little importance on his appearance. Comfort is paramount.