Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ayahuasca In Santa Barbara

An ayahuasca vision.

I'd never heard of ayahuasca until we showed up at the vacation house in Santa Barbara.  Gavin, the owner, greeted us, helped us with our bags, and proceeded to tell us his wife was in L.A. doing an 
ayahuasca ceremony with a group of others including a shaman.  It's best not to do these ceremonies without a shaman lest bad spirits infect the process.  Gavin told us he did it once and saw a city and then shit his pants.  It wasn't from fear, but rather from a natural side effect of drinking ayahuasca.  Apparently you purge from both ends.  I made a mental note to take a portrait of this character, but I didn't want to bother him at that moment, plus I didn't have my gear set up.  What a stupid mistake that turned out to be.  The next day, while tending to his rugged landscape, he moved a small rock, which dislodged a sizable boulder, which landed on him and broke his femur, thus destroying my portrait dreams.  Note to self:  Take the damn picture!  That goes for everything else.  Stop waiting to do what it is you want to do.  Tomorrow you may be lying on the ground, with an immovable boulder pinning you down while you scream in vain for medical attention while the young whippersnappers are out merrily tasting wine.  At least that's how we heard it went down.  This from the mysterious neighbor with an accent, who rides horses through the national forest with his two dogs in tow.  He also told us Joe Cocker lived over there, Jane Fonda owned the horse ranch over there, and this area (Padres National Forest) is a big, bohemian enclave.  What's the point of all this?  Make sure to use airbnb.com when making vacation arrangements, of course.

Nikki observing heaven.

Decks overlooking heaven.

Hang out room.  Look to the the left and you see heaven.

Center piece.  Look to the right and you see heaven.
 This is the second time we've used this service and it totally changes the vacation experience.  Instead of going to a protein infested hotel room at 6:00, you get to sit and relax with friends and grill your own food.  No tipping, no bad service, and not any more expensive than two hotel rooms would be for two couples.   Both of the houses have been cozy, clean, and peaceful.  This one in Santa Barbara was otherworldly.  We were literally above the clouds.  The marine layer rolled in every morning and was at least several hundred feet below us.  It looked like heaven.  The inside of this house looked exactly like you would expect from someone who engages in ayahuasca ceremonies.  And we loved it.  So far, both owners have been very artsy and bohemian and extremely interesting.  Gavin is a scrabble expert, and Josie has her own traveling, one woman show.
Wooden deer head on the wall.

Multi-Disciplinary prayer thingy on the wall.  I prayed to several of them, to no avail.
Will and Jen

Nikki surrounded by a lot of crazy art books about dead people and ghosts (from what I could tell).

A side benefit of the place is that there were numerous large windows letting in tons of natural light, which was perfect for taking portraits (assuming of course you take the damn portrait before some tragic, life altering event befalls the subject).

This represents the photo I didn't take of the owner.

One of the main reasons we decided to go to Santa Barbara was to do some wine tasting in the Santa Ynez valley.  That decision, of course, was majorly influenced by a cinematic gem called "Sideways".   The lines from that movie reverberate in my head on a daily basis because of my proximity to wine country.  Every time I smell a wine, it's "oakey", then I ask myself, “when do we drink it”.

Before we set out on the first day, we made a pact that we wouldn't use any of the movie lines with the servers.  That would be too douchey and touristy.  We found the main winery road on a map and headed out with no set plan.  The first place we passed is Andrew Murray, which appears in the movie.   We immediately head in, movie line pact firmly in place.  No sooner do we belly up to the serving table than "Maya" walks over and start pouring wine.  I'm serious, check the photo.  Not only does she look like her, but her mannerisms and speech pattern are eerily the same.  I had to do a quick look around the room to make sure nobody was messing with us.  I was waiting for the candid camera (holy shit I'm old.  That's an old reference.  There have been 15 iterations of that show since then) crew to roll out.  It was only after we left that we all agreed the experience was surreal.
"Andrew Murray, well alright" - Miles (Dammit, I used a line).

Maya's clone.

Will and Jen

Us not using any lines from "Sideways".

Sanford Winery. There's no shortage of rusty green trucks in wine country.

We spent the next day touring the main Santa Barbara area, including the mission and pier area.  

My favorite part was the propoganda historical short film about the mission and the converting of the local Chumash indians.  According to the film the locals LOVED the benevolent and merciful teachings of these kind Spaniards and were thankful to be blessed so richly.   Nobody was publicly beheaded and ridiculed for refusing the new and foreign teachings.  They eagerly rushed to the steps of the mission with babies in tow to receive the new covenants.  It was strange, though, that the Chumash all ended up being manual "skilled" brick laborers for the Spaniards while the Spanish stonemason was paid to teach them.

The rest of the day was eating and sightseeing and then we got to return to the house and cook, drink wine, and talk with good friends.  Pure heaven.

What do Skull and Crossbones on a Catholic Church mean?

Sidewalk art at the Mission. Nikki's favorite.  I have no idea why this has anything to do with a mission.

Rider and Dog on the Santa Barbara Pier.

Palm trees.  No shit.

The owner of a small restaurant where Will and I stopped in to have a beer.  He appears to be the epitome of what an Irish man should look like.  His daughter was mean as a snake.

A dog in the public restroom.  His owner was 12 hours post-ayahuasca.  Either that or taco bell.