Variegated Peach and Coral
I don’t think I had seen a hibiscus until I moved to Egypt. Our villa garden was gloriously full of the original red hibiscus. Since living in the States I have discovered so many other shades but never as many as I spotted in San Diego at Balboa Park.
Aren’t the colorful stamens pretty? Such perfection in a flower.
I love the matching lemon stamens.
Look at those stamens!
I would love dresses in all of these colors, especially this clear red above.
This was the first time I had seen clustered blossoms of hibiscus.
Cream and crimson
Sometimes it is the small aspects of life that make us happy. These hibiscus were a distance from the Botanical Garden in Balbao Park and outside the zoo. Only I seemed to be fixated with the variations of color and taking photographs. Perhaps they are more common in San Diego? Ironically, my camera had lost battery power, so all these are taken with my Samsung phone. My beloved Nikon camera is getting old and slow, so Teddy and I bought me my first proper camera at the weekend. It is a Sony with a Zeiss lens but most importantly it is really light for my neuropathic fingers to manipulate.
Lush flowers in our garden in Cairo
This is a shot of our beautiful garden in Cairo. Can you see Toffee hiding in the flowers? Look for the tail in the path… Click here if you would like to know more about our adventures in Cairo – Letters from Cairo
…and to another brilliant segue by Kerry – from Folsom to San Diego. There is a lovely little seaside community in San Diego called Seaport. As I was walking about I noticed this fancy schmancy shopping and dining center, The Headquarters at Seaport. Even more intriguing was that this was the original San Diego Police Headquarters built in 1939. What a place to work with magnificent views of the water! As the city increased in size they outgrew the original headquarters and here we are today. Amazingly they kept the original 8 block cell intact with some of the mugshots of the prisoners. This is a link to the history and architecture of The Headquarters.
Since I went to San Diego to research my ancestors, I looked with cautious trepidation at the mugshots. Was one my relative – not to my knowledge? What an interesting bunch they were. Such a mix of ethnicities and most of the crimes seemed relatively minor.
Block of 8 jail cells
The cell blocks themselves looked better than most youth hostels I frequented in my youth. You had a bed, toilet and sink all to yourself – wow! I bet there was even hot water…
As fascinating as it was, I was left with a feeling of sadness that so many of them were drug addicts. How little life changes over the generations. At least they had reasonably sized jail cells with the smell of the ocean just outside the door.
The pink hotel viewed from the Hotel Andaz
This area of San Diego was once known as the new town and most of the buildings are Victorian with some Art Deco. In the 1980s and 1990s many of the buildings were listed as historic buildings. It is now a lively center for business and nightlife. This is a link to the Wikipedia page about the Gaslamp Quarter –
I wasn’t able to identify all the buildings in this post but they all caught my eye.
Sunset from Gaslamp
I loved the detail on the side of the this building. The new architecture looked really good against the older buildings.
Water feature in front of buildings
Totem pole at the mall
The Tipsy Crow
Close to the Immaculate Conception Church is a Pioneer Park with original and replica buildings from the origins of San Diego. As I wandered through the park, I wondered about my ancestors. Was I walking in their footsteps?
This is a quote from Old Town San Diego guide
“Old Town San Diego is considered the “birthplace” of California. San Diego is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in California. It was here in 1769, that Father Junipero Serra came to establish the very first mission in a chain of 21 missions that were to be the cornerstone of California’s colonization. Father Serra’s mission and Presidio were built on a hillside overlooking what is currently known as Old Town San Diego”.
I bet it really was cosmopolitan back in the day!
I was fascinated by the huge scale. It made me think of bushels and pecks – such descriptive measurements. When we moved back to the States, I was delighted to find imperial measurements instead of Metric weights. Sometimes you are just to old to adapt to kilos… Then I discovered that American imperial measurements are different to the old British ones. The gallons are different – WTH???
Senora de los Meurtos
I visited just before Halloween and Dia de los Meurtos and loved the vivid color in these displays in the restaurant district. You can tell that it is autumn in San Diego with that fantastic clear light. It was about 80 degrees with NO humidity – yay! I fearlessly ate lunch outside without misting systems and didn’t get bitten by mosquitoes. When you live in a sub tropical swamp, those weather conditions are heaven. As I write this, it is heavenly weather in Houston but there is always some bloody mosquitoes…
Ah, it was a perfect day visiting ancestor’s graves at an appropriate time to honor them and then being able to imagine how they lived.
Side door of the Immaculate Conception Church, Old Town, San Diego
Outside the door
“It was here in Old Town that Saint Junípero Serra celebrated his First Holy Mass in California on July 2, 1769, near the site of the present Immaculate Conception Church, and it was on the hill overlooking Old Town that he planted the cross which marked the site of the Mission and the Presidio.” This is a direct quote from the website of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Old Town, San Diego. Given that my ancestors were buried in El Campo cemetery, a block away, I knew that they had sat in the current or previous church. My senses tingle when I can reconnect with the past.
Exterior of Immaculate Conception Church
Intricate Spanish detailing on the front door
I was curious about this American saint with the strange name. He was born in Majorca, one of the Balearic Islands, to the east of the Spanish Mainland. When I was a toddler my crazy mum and dad took me to live on one the smaller islands, Formentera. It didn’t work out… If you click on this link, Saint Junipero Serra, you can access an Encyclopedia Brittanica article about him.
There is some debate about whether he really helped the native people of California and that is the reason why he was canonized in 2015. Missionaries often think they are doing God’s work when they might be erasing a culture or set of beliefs. My personal belief is that you can volunteer or work in the third world without a specific faith or any but I wouldn’t want to belittle the good work that many missions do.
El Campo Cemetery had a broad mixture of names – Irish, English and Spanish mostly. Many had intermarried like my family. The stained glass in the Immaculate Conception Church had been donated by various families and it represented this broad range of original nationalities.
It was a lovely little church enhanced by the perfect sunny day. When I was looking for information about the church, I was amused by reviews on Yelp and Tripadvisor. Who would dare give less than a 5 star rating???
El Campo cemetery in the old town, San Diego
My nomadic ancestors have graves all over the world but I recently found out that some of them settled in San Diego as early pioneers. This provoked my recent visit to San Diego. Leaving the airport, I had a very personable Uber driver who took me to my hotel in the Gaslamp area, to drop my bag, and then straight to the oldest cemetery in San Diego, El Campo. It is situated in what was once the old town and now has a replica pioneer town. At first I was surprised at how small and basic the cemetery was but there was something haunting about the simple stone markers and recent wooden stakes. Much of the cemetery was taken over when a new railroad was built and many of the residents were re interred in a different part of the city.
This plaque is in remembrance of my great-great-great grandfather Jesse or Julian Ames, a pioneer from Connecticut. His daughter Matilda is my direct link to this very large family. The Ames family has a very large family get-together every year – perhaps I will ask for an invitation? He was born in 1807 and died in 1866.
This is the grave of my other great-great-great grandfather, Juan Maria Marron who was born in 1808 or 1809. From researching historical records there were many people with very similar names born at the same time in San Diego. The re interred graves caused some more confusion but my ancestors are there somewhere and more importantly their spirits live in the modern city of San Diego. Juan and Julian’s children married and are my great-great grandparents.
Grave of an Indian Maiden
Of all the graves I looked at, this grave of an Indian maiden pulled at my heartstrings. Did she die of a European plague such as smallpox or flu? Or perhaps life was just harsh back in those days. So many women died in childbirth although I think referencing her as a maiden means that she was without children. Then my mind wandered to my Mestizo heritage. Was this a maiden taken from Mexico or a local native? Cemeteries are so interesting, especially if you have a personal link. In those days, San Diego would have been paradise, good weather, fine farming and seas full of fish.
I took the ferry from San Diego to Coronado Island (which isn’t really an island but an isthmus). It was a gloriously bright morning so no need for words just photographs.
On the water somewhere?
Can you guess? Apologies for my absence from writing and reading blogs. My life has been a little hectic recently and I took advantage of a short hiatus in my schedule to fly to San Diego. What a photogenic city! I chose this destination because some of my American ancestors were early settlers in San Diego…and it had a great weather forecast. I am so shallow.
Over the next few weeks I will share my travels but for a change, I had very little funny human encounters. I think I was disadvantaged by staying the Gaslamp area which was full of convention visitors and tourists. The Uber drivers were eagerly engaging but other people didn’t seem to want to talk to me. 😢 I’m Chatty Kerry, for goodness sakes! Nobody was unfriendly but just focused on themselves. When I walk around the trails near my house most people wave or say hello whether I know them or not.
The Gaslamp is an interesting part of downtown San Diego which is on the way up but some parts are still a little run down. My hotel had a guide for safety at night and there was a safe in my crappy room. Istanbul seemed safer… I dutifully took sensible precautions and went to dinner at Happy Hour, taking advantage of sunset and safer streets. When I walked into the lobby of the Hotel Andaz, I thought I had interrupted a photo shoot for a glamorous magazine. There were a plethora of handsome young men in snappy suits. When they ascended to the rooftop bar, I asked why they were being photographed. It was a groomsman party from England would you believe? They must have had megabucks to party across the pond! More lovely shots of them in blogs to come.
I love rooftop bars because of the photo opportunities and this one was lovely but full of lonely people sitting by themselves (and me…) It crossed my mind that this would have been a good Bunny and Teddy destination but we are travelling alone until our last cat makes it to the rainbow bridge. On the the second night I ventured further afield and for the the first time ever, rejected a meal at a swanky bar. It was terrible so I found yet another rooftop bar (not the hip Hotel Andaz in the shots) which was much better but the food was still meh…
Kerry with the San Diego skyscrapers at sunset in the delightful Hotel Andaz
The barmaid in the second unnamed rooftop hotel, however, was wearing an outfit that shocked even me. She was an attractive slim blonde who was wearing a non supportive bralette with see- through linen pants that revealed that she had forgotten to put on her underwear that day. Perhaps it was a way to increase her tips? Ladies at bars were wearing very revealing costumes so maybe it is a really fun city after dark. Guys were giving me lascivious looks or none at all and I was wearing very supportive underwear. I don’t mind a nice compliment or admiring eye but I felt uncomfortable on my own. Many beautiful shots to come and some funny stories.