Sunday, May 21, 2006

The End of the Road

Montara, where I live, is a lovely, quiet coastal town in Northern California. It used to be a blip on the way to San Francisco. Now it's the end of the road.

A stretch of Highway 1 known as Devil's Slide fell into the ocean, severing Montara from the rest of the world. Of course, repairs are under way, but there is too much conspiring against life as we knew it: record rains, long, scraggly cracks on the road, potholes, and even boulders falling from the bluff above.

(I'm not making this up:

On a hike up in Montara Mountain, you can see the scenario stretched out below you. Not one but three fences, as road blocks. The whipping wind and sand that have covered most of what used to be pavement, giving the eerie feeling that the road - the very one we drove on to get to work every day - was never there.

Driving towards Montara from Half Moon Bay would be funny if it wasn't so inconvenient - all signs that read "Montara 8 Miles, San Francisco 14 miles" have been boarded up. Someone (whoever you are, I love you) wrote on the wooden boards "The edge of the known world: 8 miles."

Caffe Lucca, Montara's only local coffee shop, used to be "the last latte for eight miles" and is now minutes away from a dead end. I imagine most of their business used to be people driving towards San Francisco. We've put away our coffee press and go there instead.

My favorite fruit stand, Sweet Peas, who sells only organic fruit and vegetables (and packets of dried mango I eat in one sitting) and always gives you samples, now depends on locals. No one "passes by" anymore. If someone sees that fruit stand, they're local.

Cafe Gibraltar, my favorite restaurant on the coast, must be suffering the consequences too. (feast your eyes on their mouthwatering menu at When I go, I try to mix things up but once I find something I like, it's really hard to. To start, I order the Avocat Farci (avocado stuffed with crab and fresh artichokes) and the Burdqan Salata (orange sections tossed with fennel bulb, red onion, cumin, mint, olives and watercress.)

I'm hoping you'll read this and be tempted to go. Food like that is worth a trip to the end of the world.

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