Mountain Fire


This post would be on the great 3 months what I lived in Yokoji. On the Brazilian party that I did with “brigadeiro”, “pão de queijo”, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso. On my trip for the beach of Encinitas and San Diego.

But in Monday, of an instant for other, it began the fire that turned the mountains into ash, and my plans into water. The events of the day, when revised are gaining a new meaning. Like in a Buddhist story, it would be luck or bad luck?

I went in the morning in the post office of Mountain Center, Nathan, my colleague who was giving me lift would be going to leave in Illdywild (5 miles from there) and then going to Hemet for an exam. But I was late in the post office and there was no more time to go for Illdywild. “Enguetsu, is better that you go to Hemet with me ”. Ok, so I did.

I went to the Starbucks of Hemet. When Nathan returned, about 14:30, he had already the news, a fire was happening in Mountain Center, the same place where I had been some hours before.

We try to return, but the roads were closed. We went to Hemet, I sent an e-mail for  the other residents asking what was happening. Nathan and I decided to see “ Monster’s University “ while we were waiting for news and/or the possibility of the road to be opened. Almost in the end of the movie, Jokai, the co-Abbot, called. ‘Did we have to evacuate the area, the Zen Center might be burning and we do not know of  Kelly, did you see him today? We do not know of him.’ Kelly, had arrived there only one week before and probably he went hiking in the mountains. I have had breakfast with him, we talked about life, the changes and how it was good to be there.

Other residents were all together in Palm Springs, a city in the other side of the mountains. Jokai also told to us that we could stay at the Chiguen’s house, a priest from Yokoji who lives in a near city, Redlands. In the way to his house we stop in the refugees’ centre of the fire to ask about Kelly, we called Jokai for and he told that he had been found and was well, in Illdywild. In the way for Redlands, Kelly called us. He had been transferred to Hemet. We return to catch him. Relieved of knowing that we were all well and we would be together.

The fire grew very fast. On Monday afternoon they were approximately 400 acres. At night it was 1000 acres. On Tuesday morning 4700, at night 9000 acres. On Wednesday  14000 acres  and today, it divides by five that 28000 acres  burnt by the fire.

In Tuesday the afternoon we had the good news, The Zen Center did not suffer damages. Good!!! The work of 30 years to build and to maintain Yokoji would not be lost. Many things to put in order and to clean, but at least it is completely there!
And so, luck or bad luck, the things as they are, changing our plans and asking adaptation and attention.


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