We met Javier on a hiking route in Patagonia in 2002. He’s a lover of tall trees and lonely places. About five years ago he traveled from his home in Spain and visited us in Berkeley. We had a good times in Berkeley but he spent most of his month in America on his own, in a rental car criss-crossing California from Avenue of the Giants to Kings Canyon to Yosemite. After seeing photos of Hiouchi and the surrounding Redwood groves he decided a return trip to the US was in order and arrived in Crescent City about a month ago, just before we opened.
We were lousy hosts. Too busy to welcome him in ways friends are deserving of, I caught myself making choices that favored the bnb’s needs rather than Javier’s. I was in a mad rush to clean, fix, paint, adjust, construct. Through it all, Javier was amazingly cool and tried his best to share some philosophy. Tranquilo he kept advising me. Chill out, mate. Don’t stress. Oh, but I did stress and over the tiniest details — door stops, cobwebs, grout lines, the stacking of firewood, chipping paint on pantry shelves, the position of floor lamps relative to sofas, my list was endless. Jesus, he probably thought I’d gone mad. Of the four nights he spent with us, he cooked three, and for good reason. On the first night Javier was here I overcooked a tri-tip and on eating my disaster of a meal (rescued only by slicing the rubbery hunk into the thinnest of slices) he must have decided that if he wanted anything resembling eatable food he would have to cook it himself.
And we totally scored — the first meal of Javier’s was an outstanding Paella (un arroz, he called it), the second an amazing beef stew (guisado), and the third a rerun of the paella that stunned our senses all over again.
After the first guest came and went, and the second and third, I did chill. Javier’s advice kept coming back to me and I realized I was going to have to keep an open mind and listen if this business was going to be a success.
When Javier returned to Hiouchi this week from more then three weeks on the road (the Olympic Peninsula, Hell’s Canyon, Glacier National Park, Mt. Hood and Crater Lake) I was finally able to connect with him in ways that started our friendship off in the first place.
Tranquilo he said and surprisingly I listened.