Continuing in California:
On our way to LA we took a short break in Santa Barbara to see the Santa Barbara Mission and the Stearns Wharf. We arrived at our apartment for the night in Los Angeles, unable to avoid traffic, just before sunset on March 21st after dropping Gustaff off at his friends home. The drive had exhausted us, so we decided to spend the night in. The next day with a limited amount of time Romi and I chose to visit the Griffith Observatory for a view of the entire city, the Hollywood Sign, and a little lesson on outer space. By early afternoon we had already met up with Gustaff and were on the road towards Visalia.
That evening we arrived at the home of Daria and Atissa, and by home I mean mansion! They had planned and built it for the last few years. The outcome was absolutely gorgeous (it even had an elevator!). Romi and Daria connected right away talking about the design and structure of the home. Their family were all Persian Baha’i’s and since we had just celebrated Naw Ruz (Persian/Baha’i New Years) we were lucky enough to join in on the festivities of their Persian traditions. Every evening was spent with friends and family, eating Persian food, learning more of their culture, and being treated with the most hospitality ever experienced by humankind. Romi was so impressed by the Persian culture that it really helped her overcome certain false stereotypes that she had (and many other people have) of Iran and its peoples. More specifically she was happy to witness the admiration and respect they had for women.
Gustaff and I performed only one show in 5 days, which was kind of nice because it also gave Romi and I time to just be together. In that time we got to meet so many wonderful new friends, check out local farms in the area, and also visit the famous Sequoia National Park.
The community of Visalia was overwhelmingly generous towards Gustaff and I, they loved Romi (which again didn’t surprise me), and they even helped to fix up a pretty serious issue with our vans brakes, that Gustaff and I had no idea how we were going to afford to fix. We left knowing our lives were impacted greatly, and feeling a deep love for our new friends in Visalia.
Our last stop in California was at its state capitol, Sacramento. The town itself seemed quite boring to Romi and I, but the people, we observed, expressed so much joy in their lives. Walking through the streets of downtown we couldn’t help but notice how many people were smiling and laughing, and truly enjoying the simple moments in life. Gustaff performed one of our shows in Sacramento solo, so that Romi and I could go visit a friend of mine up north in the rolling green hills near Redding. It was short but sweet, allowing for us another new perspective on life.
On March 29th, our last night in Sacramento, and Romi’s final night with us, we performed a devotional concert for the friends. It was a powerful one for me because I did not want to think of Romi’s soon departure. So instead I did my best to express to her my gratitude and love through the songs I sang. She told me after that it was nice to see us perform one last time before saying goodbye.
With just one hour of sleep I drove Romi to the airport, cried, and picked up Gustaff. We set off towards Portland, Oregon saying goodbye to California, ready for the next adventure.