Happy Hibiscus Hues

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.

Pale pink

Aren’t the colorful stamens pretty?  Such perfection in a flower.

Deep orange

Lemon

I love the matching lemon stamens.

Look at those stamens!

I would love dresses in all of these colors, especially this clear red above.

Pale yellow

This was the first time I had seen clustered blossoms of hibiscus.

Deep pink

Cream and crimson

Mauve

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

 

 

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San Diego Mugshots

…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.

Gaslamp Architecture, San Diego

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.

Florent restaurant

Four buildings

SDSU Gallery

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

Old Town, San Diego

Colorado House

Stable Museum

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!

Spice shop

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.

Walk into the light

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.

Front door

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, San Diego

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.