June 15, 2001: Dispatches
by Brad & Tony
On Their Trip Across America
www.bradnewsham.com

Just back from two incredible nights at Harbin Hot Springs. For those of you who don't know, it is a clothing-optional new-age community of 150 people in a remote wooded canyon two hours north of San Francisco. It's one of the world's most special places (that I have seen, anyway), and Tony will swear the same thing too now.

We arrived at 2 a.m. We went right for a quick soak. Tony and I had swum naked in a river and then a waterfall in the Philippines, but, well, Harbin is different, and you never know how someone is going to react to people of both sexes walking into the common changing room, taking off all their clothes without a second thought and then walking stark-who-gives-half-a-damn naked out to the pools or the sundeck or into the woods.

Tony got used to it in a hurry. He loved the Thursday night "Unconditional Dance" (as I always do), loved the sunset hike we took to the ridgetop, loved that when we walked up to the restaurant window to beg for some rice and vegetables (not on the menu) the cook, Rebecca, screamed "It's you guys! I saw you in the paper! What can I do for you!"

In my book I used as an epigraph a West African saying, "Beware a naked man who tries to sell you a shirt." Maybe I used that a book too soon. A man named Evan, wearing exactly zero, tried to sell us a sarong, and he modeled for us all the various ways to position it - all of them about the same as wearing nothing. Tony wanted a picture of this. He said no one in his village would believe it without a picture, they would think he was a liar: "Oh, Tony goes to America for eight days - now he says he has piloted an airplane and seen a hundred naked men and women swimming together and a naked man selling clothes." After our laughter stopped he said, "Maybe in Banaue I open a shop, selling clothes, wearing nothing." Later he said, "Now I can tell people I have seen the place we are born." Huh? "We are born naked!"

This afternoon we drove back to Pt. Reyes Seashore Lodge to pick up the wallet I'd left by accident and return the room key by accident, and we went for an hour and a half sprint to my "secret spot" before getting back to a pay phone for a pre-arranged phone call with Rita (Tony's wife), plus Tony's mother, Flora, and Gladys and Rowel, two of his kids. Everyone's fine, but they think he might be making up some things he tells them.

Tomorrow: Giants game with Sarah, Rhonda, Gloria; North Beach Fair; Filipino Festival.

I will bet all the credit card money I have that you don't know anyone in the whole wide world who is having a better time than I am - unless it is Tony, and that is a distinct possibility.

 
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