I edited this post slightly because it was previously more of a competition, and I’d rather be more inclusive. Sometimes I think the town where I went to school couldn’t be more different from Taipei. It is beautiful, laid back and accepting of quirky individuality. Let me explain.
Arcata, California sits on the extreme northcoast of California. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, with mountains, ocean and giant redwood forests all within easy bicycling distance. I’ve gone cross-country skiing and looked out at the ocean. I’ve gone backpacking for days and seen no people but several bears. I’ve gone ocean kayaking and seen whales.
It’s a university town, and one of the most popular majors is Wildlife Management. My best friend there is a professional bird watcher (that’s his job). A majority of our city councilors were members of the Green Party. Our former mayor was a lesbian, and I saw her naked at the river on a sunny Summer day. We’ve got several nude beaches, and I once saw a parade of topless women going through the center of town bearing signs saying things like, “Free the Breasts.”
Lots of odd activities take place in the center of town, on our beautiful Plaza where the whole community comes together. The Kinetic Sculpture Race is a three day race, with fantastic home-made vehicles that traverse roads, sand dunes, mud and water, fueled by alcohol and insanity, starting from the Plaza. There’s the All Species Parade, of crazy characters dressed up as. . . creatures, the Samba Parade with scantily clad dancers, the Oyster Festival, the Gay/Lesbian Day. On ordinary Saturdays there’s the Farmers Market, where folks drive in from the hills to sell pickup truck loads of produce to the locals who stroll, not drive, downtown to enjoy the sunshine on the Plaza and chat with neighbors.
Speaking of produce, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the County (Humboldt) is world renowned for its marijuana. We grow great stuff there, it’s commonly smoked by adults as well as kids, and no one considers it to be a hard drug as they do in Asia. We had a clinic openly dispensing medical marijuana for a while till it got bogged down in litigation. When a cop seized one man’s “medical marijuana” the guy sued to get it back and won.
People read books. . . not just about money, but about everything. We’ve got great bookstores and lots of good restaurants where one can eat giant breakfasts, drink endless coffees and linger with friends for hours before walking, not driving, home. We’ve got a great hot-tub place where one rents private rooms in a beautiful garden setting, not a cement tub in a barren room. One lawyer in town quit his practice to open a children’s interactive discovery museum. Another local lawyer took people on scuba diving trips to Thailand, eventually quit and now lives in Phuket.
I better stop, I’m feeling faint. How about you? What’s special about your hometown?