Saturday, August 2, 2008

from cuba to catalina island

august 2nd, morning, pasadena

click here for photos of catalina island

88 % of catalina is protected by their local land conservancy. apparently the wrigley family controlled the island for many years, and one or more of them cared enough about the natural environment to turn the place over to a local land conservancy rather than ending up with more of the same from so-called 'developers' (who do more destroying than developing). thank you, wrigley family.

i travelled on a rather expensive privately owned ferry ($30+ dollars one way, i suppose bc ferry travellers will look forward to such rates as our publically owned transport system is stolen from us and corporatized) early thursday morning to avalon, and then to two harbours on catalina island. it reminded me of jasper/banff national park - avalon is like banff, very 'developed' and corporate and touristy; two harbours is similar to jasper, relatively unchanged despite decades of passing travelers, with nothing corporate in site except some of the products inside a little general store.

the safari bus (owned by the company that the wrigley family continues to manage) took me to the little harbour campsite and i found my friends. they shared their rented kayaks, their food, and we constructed a fire using chunks of trees from who knows where. one of the wood chunks was definitely cedar. maybe it's time to provide lights at campsites, rather than burning the last remnants of wood extracted from the last remnants of earth's forests.

the catalina journey lasted only a day and a half, but it was wonderful. there were surprisingly few people there. my friends and i decided we ought to tell everyone how awful it was, in an attempt to keep people from flocking there. we've tried to do that with vancouver island, telling people it rains all the time and it's really miserable, but the monster houses are going up and the forests are coming down anyways. it's incredible to think of this lovely, wilderness preserved little island existing so close to the crazy busy city of los angeles.

it occurred to me that, as cuba evolves, the cuban people might attempt to influence their government to build campsites rather than resorts. if it's impossible to keep people from inhabiting the last of earth's most beautiful places, at least we can influence how they inhabit. the type of people who travel to campsites are rather different from the type who travel to resorts and, though i wouldn't want to imply anything elitist, if i had my druthers i'd rather invite wilderness loving travellers rather than excessive comfort seeking tourists.

returning to my friends' home in pasadena, the energy hungry air conditioner was immediately enlisted. i must say that i really really appreciated the air conditioner during the 100 degree days in austin, but here in california ...... i expressed my disdain. it's interesting how my canadian friends are often complaining that it's not hot enough, when's the hot weather going to arrive, lousy weather ... while my southern friends often complain that it's too hot, turn on the air conditioner.

apparently the spanish have a saying -- it never rains the right amount for everyone.

we're all gonna die. i'm thankful to have had an opportunity to experience catalina island before the world ends.