Tuesday, October 11. I wished I’d never left.

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 11th, 2016

Don’t jump too fast to conclusions. I mean Santa Barbara in  1964. A restaurant near the marina is called “Endless Summer”, says it all. I was lucky to catch up with Willy, my high school class mate,  before her departure this morning. I saw her last at my going away party in Amsterdam the last days of August 2013. Her daughter runs an impressive flower growing farm in Carpinteria. There are a number of other similar operations run by Dutch immigrants all around her. Many of the growers have converted part of their crop to medical Marijuana.  It is more lucrative to import the flowers from Mexico. California does not yet allow recreational Cannabis, like Oregon and Washington state. Willy made a pot of “groentesoep”, nothing equals a good Dutch vegetable soup. Dinner was Nasi Goreng, we ate outside with Willy’s oldest granddaughter and her husband and two of her grandsons. The large ranch home is set in a beautiful setting looking over the Pacific Ocean. The ladies brought me back to the marina with an enormous bag of Dutch delicacies, licorice, stroopwafels, speculaas, shrimp crackers, Conimex spices, hagelslag, enzovoort….

Wilja had arranged for me to be the speaker at a regular early morning program for the 44 students at the Anacapa School , a private prep school for grades 7 through 12. Wilja’s youngest son is a student at the school. I very much enjoyed the interaction with the students. They were very interested in my adventure and experiences and had good questions. I wished more young people could have an opportunity like these youngster have here. Check out the school’s web site. Afterwards I had a very rewarding conversation at the Handlebar Coffee Roasters  with the founder and principal of the school, Gordon Sichi, a new friend. This was my old neighborhood. The school is on the corner of De La Guerra Street where we lived in 1963/1964.

I have decided to stay here through the weekend to meet up with a few more friends here and treat myself to my favorite Sunday service at the Santa Barbara Mission.

Now I am going to  do some name dropping and report on one of those many “small world” encounters. These names will in particular ring a bell among my European friends. I was folding my Genoa sail when a part time crew member of the crab/lobster boat next to me stopped by. Christan de Coster. He turned out to be the son of Roger de Coster who is a household word in Europe when it comes to Moto Cross. He is a five time world champion. He was born in 1944 in Uccle, the same part of Brussels where our (still Belgian) daughter Rose Marie was born. Christian’s Godfather is Eddy Merckx an even better known Belgian bicycle racer who still holds the most, eleven, victories in “Grand Tour”, the combination of the three biggest road races, including four victories in the Tour de France. Christian’s father was very instrumental in introducing Moto Cross into the United States.

Gerberas and the new green.

Gerberas and the new green.

 

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