For the third time this year, I am in my happiest place on Earth. In any other year, I would consider it a very special treat, but not this year. This year is different. It’s like I find myself in the middle of a movie that I would not choose to watch. First time, we came here to celebrate our 21st Anniversary & my Birthday. February 14th, Hotel Del, ocean waves. Somewhere-Over-the-Rainbow-Dreams-Come-True. At one of the most beautiful restaurants ever, with a Tiffany diamond ring on my finger, I shake with fear, tears running down my cheeks. “Remember: Good Always Wins,” – words of comfort from a seasoned waiter pierce through the thick suffocating darkness that gradually fills the air. In 10 days, the war will start.
Second time, we came here to pick up my mom from the Ukrainian refugee camp in Tijuana. April, Hotel Del, ocean waves. My mom is exhausted after long evacuation. In her late seventies, she had one hour to pick up her belongings. A huge bomb exploded one mile from her apartment in Kharkiv. “There’s shooting on the street!” – she shouted into her phone. “Yes, mom, it’s war, you know, they shoot, they stop shooting, keep packing, the car will soon be here.” Five days on the road, two days in Hungary, a day on the road, three weeks in Germany, a day in the air over the Atlantic, 10 hours on the Mexican border & finally she is with me at my favorite place on Earth & that wonderful waiter happily serves all three of us.
Now, the third time we are here. It’s July & kids are having fun! These kids are all in their 20-ties & technically can be our kids. In March, they gathered from all over the US to organize a refugee camp in Tijuana for Ukrainians, fleeing from the horrors of war. When the Mexican border was suddenly closed, these kids refused to go home & went to the one of the most dangerous places on earth, full of gangsters & cartels, to set up yet another refugee camp for those Ukrainians who had to wait in Mexico for their entry into the US. These kids helped 25.000 Ukrainian refugees! Now, they gathered again to organize summer camps for some of those refugees & simply to have fun: surfing, lightning a campfire, playing volleyball, toasting marshmallows, singing under the stars with the backdrop of the Hotel Del, while the ocean waves crashing: “Good Always Wins!” We Just Have to Remember.