Cambrian: Opinion

Do tourists cramp my style? No, they make me smile

Tourists take in the sights of Cambria’s West Village in this photo from August 2014.
Tourists take in the sights of Cambria’s West Village in this photo from August 2014. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Beautiful beaches, rolling hills, friendly, artistic people, restaurants to write home about, unique boutiques and stellar galleries by the score — there are many good reasons to be living here on the Central Coast, especially Cambria.

Some folks grew up here. Some folks retired here. Some had opportunities that brought them here, then ended — but they said, “Hey, got me out of L.A.! I’ll do whatever it takes to stay!”

That would be me. And as I always say, “I don’t own anything but a lifestyle that pleases me greatly.”

How do we manage here?

Tourists. I know, I know, your shoulders are already hitching up around your ears. But for many of us, they are our bread and butter. Granted, the crowds have gotten almost uncomfortable for more days of the year than ever before, but hear me out. No large-scale manufacturing, no high-tech industry …

In my nearly 35 years of residence in Cambria, I’ve never had a bad encounter with a visitor. Really. I’ve had some challenges with people who live here, but personally, I’ve been OK with visitors. Perhaps it is the mindset into which I put myself. Try seeing it from their perspective. That works in every aspect of life.

I will not lie and say there haven’t been plenty of encounters with those who live a somewhat entitled life that made me shake my head. I then tell myself, “Wow. Sorry they can’t enjoy life like I do, because I surely do.” And I know that likely they will not return because their cellphones don’t work here or it was too foggy or some other wonderful fact of life that keeps me here.

Really, it’s those who have moved here who have brought that sense of entitlement. They make us have streetlights and cell towers and all other manner of urbanization to “civilize” Cambria. If it has been done in the name of drawing tourists, well, then, I cannot abide by it. Frankly, I think folks have always come here because it was more “rustic.” I do occasionally feel I might have to look for a smaller town, not to avoid the tourists, however, but to escape the gentrification.

I separate tourists from this process. I need folks to come to town and get a massage. I can then pay my rent, buy products at the hardware store (where the workers are, by the way, incredibly patient and helpful), the grocery stores (which also rock), the restaurants (what can I say — how many of you never eat out?), get my plumbing fixed or what-have-you. It’s the ol’ trickle-down effect.

Festivals, art walks, plays, concerts and all other manner of community party or celebration indeed bring more bodies and cars. But they also bring more support for peons like me trying to get by.

For me personally, it is easier to slow down while someone looks at a scarecrow from their car or to plan my shopping trips and walks at less busy times of the day or to laugh at someone’s consternation that there are no drive-through eateries here than it is to be pushed into paying for a desal plant that I didn’t feel was warranted in the first place or to slowly lose the character of my beloved berg by paving and constraining every nook and cranny of the place.

So as tourist season starts materializing and public activities pick up speed, I am grateful for the opportunity to earn my keep, help fellow businesses stay in business and, frankly, meet a lot of really interesting people from all over the world.

Dianne Brooke’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email her at ltd@ladytiedi.com, or visit her website at www.ladytiedi.com.

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