I didnt notice the poster of the Afgani girl from National Geographic until someone pointed it out. I was admiring the brilliant colors offered from the curtains hanging on the tent ceiling. I was mesmerized by the green light when someone said the girl had green eyes. Harry Potter also had green eyes! I was momentarily distracted and got confused which poster was the girl from NG and which was the one of her 20 years later. That was also when my legs started to cramp from being shoved under the low table. Just exactly how did they eat like this? It didnt seem to help digestion much sitting like this.
We were at Salang Pass in Fremont, celebrating our Mission Possible and Accomplished and A and T's first anniversary. The food was excellent and the Ugly Duckling Cabernet I bought was actually rather strong and good. But I didnt much care for the ambience of the Afgani restaurant nor the service which was just passable. When we guessed at the significance of the year 1919 painted on the wall painting with what resembled the Arc De Triumph, I figured it must be from some independence. Independence from the Brits as it turned out. The Hindu Kush behind the arch paid a very high insult to the real mountain range. The real Kush is so imposing, sprawling, and jaggerdy that the mere round dome on the painting nowhere resembled it. Some day the Hippo will go there to pay homage, I secretly promised.
The day had been perfect for a Missions closure. Warm, clear sky. Our first stop was Santa Cruz. The mission church replica was perched on a little square with the modern day cathedral next door. Behind and tucked away was the only remnant of the original mission buildings, now a state park. We, experienced Missionaries by now, werent surprised not even saddened that not much of the original stuff was left. However, the new cathedral, dedicated to the apostles, was gorgeous inside, with the same pastel colors and drawing motifs, so characteristics of the missions. The holy water came cascading down into a pool that reminded me of the jacuzzi at home. I felt strange that I could dip my entire arm inside the pool of holy water. What a new way to offer the sacred water. At the entrance, a priest (I think) or the pastor himself greeted us and shook our hands. We were offered a calendar depicting the apostles.
Next we came on the Santa Clara University campus to see the mission. I dont seem to have much recollection of this mission nor did I like it much. The church didnt have much in term of the exquisite beauty or even the signatures of the missions. Once again we encountered an very old and long tree which roots traveled and curled above us in the courtyard. Tomaso spotted the observatory. There are 3 telescopes it seemed as there were 3 domes. One on a tiny building close by, fit for a hobbit it seemed.
After a refreshing Jamba juice stop, we came upon the San Jose Mission located in Fremont. The newly rebuilt facade was commanding. The clean whitewash was brilliantly reflecting the afternoon sun. The bell tower and the church facade is all in one. Very unusual. The tile roof and side buttresses made the structure look historic. The paintings inside the church were magnificent. Again mission motifs and pastels everywhere, including the organ. Arches, curtains and columns were all painted in and one wondered, if such talents existed, what had happened to the poor souls who possessed them? The adjacent cemetery reminisced of old mission communities.
From all 21 missions that we're visited, Purissima still remains my favorite. Perhaps because it was so well preserved and the entire complex was still intact. Others like San Miguel, made one wonder if after restoration, it would still look anywhere close to what it was originally. I understand it's hard to preserve history while our present lives beg us to forever keep advancing. But visiting the past from time to time reminds us where we came from and what we did , the sins of the past, the forgotten moments of happiness and the eternal longing for a better tomorrow, promises unfulfilled, dreams unrealized, and tormented souls who wont let us rest until we take the lessons from the past to path way for a better future.
Santa Cruz Mission
Santa Clara Mission
San Jose Mission