La La Land…

Welcome to Daytona Beach!I always thought living in a highly haunted town would be fun, and for the most part it was. Highly stimulating, Saint Augustine has a world of charm. But, after a few years the constant bombardment of spirit activity bouncing off of one’s psyche and id can become tiring, overwhelming, exhausting. Add to that the never ending stream of tourists and strangers coming and going, one can find themselves feeling just a little bit displaced, a ship drifting along a distant but familiar shore.

Chatting with folks that have been born and raised in the Oldest City lends another side of the story. Not many who can claim the sea side town their birth place still reside there, the lion’s share of them having already relocated, pushed out or moving on for one reason or another. But most of them sing the same old song…their beloved Saint Augustine is not what it once was. Gone are the days of quaint and relaxed community, replaced by what the City Commissioners have created in a profit making sort of Disneyland for tourists. There is that same old familiar right side of the tracks where the city will support the community, but only if there is money to be had in it for them. Then there is the other side of the tracks which is anything not belonging to the right side. I even saw a story written up in the infamous “Old City Life” magazine that opined anything north and west of the Old City was ghetto slums where the undesirables live. A stern letter to the editor of said rag went without consideration nor reply. I’m sure other property owners like myself were not at all appreciative of the stigma the city had put upon them and were just as irate as I was at hearing that my tax dollars and residency was considered valuable not at all.

In essence, what had once been a sweet seaside community with caring neighbors and a sense of belonging, where artistic folks could let their paints flow free with the sea breezes had been transformed over a very short period of years into a money pot for those with vested interests. Add to that the energy of oh so many angry dead and you’ve got yourself a reason to move on. Oh yes…angry. Anger built up over centuries of war and bloodshed, slavery and abuse, disease and poverty. Chatting with a retired tour guide of the oldest streets, I was told that only about 11% of the “oldest” buildings within the Oldest City were really original in one way or another. All the rest were replaced and fashioned to resemble the oldest things. What used to be a flourishing artist community has now been discouraged and dismantled, laws forbidding artists to ply their trade abound within the city limits.¬† But the homeless bums can enjoy unlimited loitering, threatening passers by and pan handling to their heart’s content. And when Lincolnville was “just another slum”, the only place that many of the locals and artists could afford to live, the area went virtually ignored and left blighted until by chance some enterprising chap thought to capitalize on the authenticity of the area when the trend seemed to catch on and now, with most of the locals pushed out, it has become one of the most lucrative and desirable parts of town to reside in. (Move over South Park…)

Tolomato Cemetery. Joke. About twice per year the City opens the old rusty gates of one of the country’s oldest cemeteries to allow tours conducted to raise money for upkeep to the grounds. Chatting up a docent on that sunny fall afternoon brought confirmation of something I already sensed…mainly that there was no one still buried in the old hallowed grounds. They had all been moved some decades before to other cemeteries far and wide. Fake. Like the rest of the poor old town. This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. :/

That’s fine. I am grateful that I was able to reside in that place for six years, enjoying my favourite landmarks, the Bridge of Lions and the Firehouse Beach. Yearning for something different, I moved on…

Now we find ourselves immersed within a new adventure which I will share with you, dear friends, as the adventure unfolds! Daytona Beach is a most fun town! The choice of food and restaurants can not be beat and the friendly atmosphere of the town is contagious! I didn’t realize just how invaded with negative spirit energy I was in Saint Augustine until I left that place. Like a breath of fresh air, I now have my wits back! Yes, there is still the occasional wandering spirit looking for peace and someone to validate him or her, but not like the constant stream of souls that move through the Oldest City’s space. Yes, it is still one of the most active spirit sites on the planet, so I urge anyone who wants to experience it to most definitely make the trip. But for me…I like to call Daytona Beach home…for now. ūüôā

Bamboo Arts Center Spirit Celebration!

…and a grand celebration it was! I had heard that Saundra Emerson and Gary Broughman had an exquisite place where yoga, serenity, organic gardening and a beautiful lakeside homestead sitting high upon the hill overlooking the¬†calm and peaceful waters¬†were the normal daily fare out in DeLeon Springs in northern/central Florida. But little did I know just how awsome this place really was until I experienced it for myself!

Bamboo Arts Spirit Celebration - Fun!

Bamboo Arts Spirit Celebration - Fun!

As we drove down to their place early Saturday morning on the 16th of October – the¬†day that the Spirit Celebration was to be held – I felt as if I was going back in time…to the 1960’s! Images of Woodstock came flooding in and I squeaked with delight as we entered the property! As we¬†wandered on down the dirt road through the dappled sunlight breaking through the trees, it really was as if we were beginning a journey into another place, another era, where times were easy and the soul could relax and breathe. When the Center came into sight, it was like coming home. The beautiful and serene tree surrounding the lake, the gardens, both floral and vegetable, teamed with abundance, and the rolling hills, spacious pines and the overall feel of the place was one of the most welcoming I have experienced in a very long time.


Lots of great music at the Bamboo Arts Spirit Celebration!

As we unloaded out gear and entered the expansive lawn and stage area, everyone was friendly, welcoming and helpful. It felt like old home week as old friends an new came by to offer their “hellos” and their helps. It wasn’t long before everyone was set up and ready for a fun day filled with music, laughter and good times! The cafe at the main house offered the most wonderful organic homemade fixins for a very modest fee, and the weather that day was absolutely gorgeous with blue skies, a gentle breeze and just right temperatures. There was big music up on the stage for most of the day, with homegrown bands, poetry and spoken word recitations. But here and there all about the property (which is huge!) were little clusters of musicians jamming together and making the sweetest music an ear could ever hear. And sprinkled among the trees and scattered about the lawn were tents where readers, healers, and peddlers of various sundry fare would delight the senses as one strolled by. Crystal skulls, gemstone jewelry, incense and peppermints, hand made¬†one of a kind items and lots of other things were there to be had for very reasonable prices. A very impressive¬†turnout from vendors, readers, crafts folk, musicians and spectators made this an event to remember. My cheeks¬† hurt from smiling all day! And when all was said and done, after reluctantly calling it a day as the sun set and we readied for home, I could not recall a more lovely time spent on a beautiful Saturday afternoon!

Hearts a blazin' at Sleeping Gypsy's tent!

Hearts a blazin' at Sleeping Gypsy's tent!

Rumor has it that Bamboo Arts Celebration Center will be having more events coming up starting in January 2011. Keep a watchful eye on this blog and my web page – Sleeping Gypsy – for all the latest updates and developments for announcements for upcoming celebrations at the Bamboo Arts Celebration Center at 4490 Cave Lake Road in DeLeon Springs, Florida. Until then, give them a look see at their web site: Bamboo Arts Celebration Center.

You will be so glad you did…

Until next time…