Aircraft carriers, Comic-Con, border with Mexico and avocados: a great trip to San Diego
Here they know how to clean avocados, save the planet from plastic and hold the world's largest festival Comic-Con. In San Diego, fur seals roost on coastal cliffs, and Americans continually include the city on the list of the best for life in the United States. Offers a great trip to San Diego offers "Voice of America".
San Diego is called the birthplace of California, it is one of the most populous cities in the United States. Here the highest concentration of the military, and this is not surprising: the city is the main base of the Pacific Fleet of the United States. It is a city of high technology and advanced scientific discoveries, conservative and liberal at the same time.
For a long time, San Diego was in the shadow of San Francisco and Los Angeles, but, according to local residents, the city only benefited.
It is impossible to describe San Diego in one sentence. A city with a population of about 1,5 million people looks like a patchwork quilt: carefree surfers are adjacent to office workers, in the neighborhoods right on the border with Mexico, they tell terrible stories about drug cartels, and in San Diego Bay, sea landscapes are hidden behind the masts of the most powerful in the world aircraft carriers. It is a city of perfect weather, where there are no seasons and +20 degrees all year round. Climate, fertile land (in the city of almost 6000 farms) for centuries attracted new residents to San Diego.
The first colonists arrived here in the middle of the 16th century, but it will be almost 200 years before new settlements appear here. It was from this place that the story began not only of San Diego, but of the entire state of California.
In 1850, San Diego became part of the United States. The first warships arrived at nearby Cape Loma. The base of the Navy in San Diego was founded in 1922. And to this day, the Navy is the main employer in the city, where about 100 thousand military men live.
“San Diego is the birthplace of naval aviation. One hundred years ago, it was here that the first landings of aircraft on aircraft carriers were carried out. Here is the world's largest air base and the largest number of veterans. Therefore, when people come to San Diego, they want to learn as much as possible about the military history of the city, ”says maritime historian Scott McGaw, director of marketing for the largest museum ship in the world.
McGaw talks about the story on board the USS Midway aircraft carrier, which served the US Navy for a record 47 years.
“It's very difficult to understand how big and powerful the Midway is until you get here,” says the historian. - In length, this ship is like three football fields. 37 meters wide, 70 tons, 000 rooms. Solid steel. He is incredibly powerful: if an average car has a power of 2000-200 horsepower, then Midway engines give out all 250. "
The ship was launched a week after the end of World War II. For a decade, he remained the most powerful aircraft carrier in the world. The scale is amazing today: it is a real military base on the water, protected as a fortress, capable of accommodating 137 fighters.
“Aircraft carriers are always at the forefront, we call them pioneers,” says McGow. “If things are bad, the first question the president asks is:“ Where is our nearest aircraft carrier? ”He sends him to Vietnam, to Korea - to where the crisis is. For anyone who served here, it was the pinnacle of a military career. ”
Midway’s baptism of fire was the Vietnam War. And he finished the service half a century later, after Operation Desert Storm, the first in history to be won exclusively by air forces. From the Midway, built in the 40s of the last century, supersonic planes easily took off. 3000 sorties - and not a single loss. The air commander - Boss and his assistant Mini - were responsible for all air operations on the deck, for every take-off and landing, for nearly 200 people, whose average age was 19 years old, who loaded bombs and refueled rattling planes. These guys were on the high seas.
The conditions on the ship were also only for the hardened, while at the same time, 3000 people served on Midway. All but the officers lived in such cabins: three-level beds and no personal space. Most smoked, there was no air conditioning.
Smoking was prohibited near fuel tanks and in some other parts of the ship, including during emergencies. But men still smoked in their free time. Many worked at night, so they did not turn off the light, they only dimmed from 19:00 to 7:00.
He graduated from Midway service in 1992. It is hard to imagine, but they wanted to send the aircraft carrier for scrap. Or “razor blades,” as Scott jokes. And only thanks to the efforts of volunteers did he turn into a museum. Over the first 15 years of its existence, the Midway Museum not only broke all records in popularity, but also became a very wealthy museum, earning $ 50 million over the years.
The sense of duty and military discipline in San Diego surprisingly coexist with the carefreeness that occurs only in coastal cities. In the morning - yoga and jogging, in the evening - surfing and freshly squeezed smoothie in one of the fruit bars, which are literally a few in each quarter.
San Diego is, first of all, of course, the city of the military, but secondly, it is a tourist city. 36 million people visit it annually. Tourism is San Diego's second largest economy.
The fame of the world famous resort came to the city with the opening of the Del Coronado hotel. The first visitors were received here in 1888. Today, the hotel with Victorian towers and a facade is one of the last surviving wooden buildings of the time.
“Coronado was the largest electrified resort west of the Mississippi,” says hotel employee Gina Petrone. “It was to the liking of wealthy Americans who usually came here for several months and brought along all the domestic workers.”
11 presidents of the USA came to breathe in the healing air in Coronado. He became known to the general public thanks to scenes from films. Located just a 2-hour drive from Hollywood, the hotel often turned into a movie set. It all started back in 1897, when the film "A Dog Playing with a Surfer" was shot here. Then a lot of silent films were filmed here. In total, employees counted 64 films and shows, the events of which unfold in Coronado. The most famous was the 1959 film “Only Girls in Jazz” with Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe.
Off season, the cheapest room at Coronado will cost $ 350. At the peak - at least $ 800 per night. For example, when the largest festival in the world, Comic-Con, takes place in July in San Diego, there are more celebrities here than in Hollywood. The cultural life of San Diego can be divided into "before" and "after" Comic-Con. Tickets for the festival are sold out six months before it starts. The event lasts only 4 days, but for fans of comics, video games, television series and superheroes, the international festival Comic-Con is a business card of San Diego.
It all started in 1970, when a group of comic book lovers gathered in one of the hotels in the city to discuss the latest pop culture. They could not even think that these meetings would eventually turn into an international festival. On Comic-Con days, they block entire neighborhoods and even repaint houses. Instead of the usual bricks, the facades are full of advertisements for TV shows and movies. Instead of passers-by - the heroes of films and comics.
For decades, the area where Comic-Con is now held has been notorious - there were bars and strip clubs where sailors enjoyed themselves after ocean storms. But in the 80s, city authorities began large-scale reforms and decided to build an exhibition complex here. He became the center of the city's new business and entertainment life.
The Comic-Con was first held at the San Diego Exhibition Center in 1995, at the same time the prefix “international” - Comic-Con International - appeared in the name of the festival. In just 4 days, Comic-Con receives $ 150 million worth of investments, and first-rate actors attend film presentations - from Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansson to Tom Cruise and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The only thing the festival regulars are nostalgic for is the times when the focus of the festival was on the characters of hand-drawn comics, and not their copies that came to life on large Hollywood screens.
The proximity of the Dream Factory in San Diego is felt in full: movie stars, sports stars and even politicians are willing to buy real estate in the fashionable areas of the city. Such, for example, as La Jolla, famous for Spanish architecture and white beaches. Convertibles, trendy electric cars, art galleries and spas are everywhere.
Homes on the ocean sell for $ 20 million. And this despite the peculiar smell in La Hoya, which can discourage visitors even in local gourmet restaurants. Due to its special location, a very mild climate has formed in La Jolla Bay: it is never colder here + 10-12 degrees and even in summer the temperature rarely rises above +25. Such a pleasant climate really liked the local sea lions, which became one of the attractions of La Jolla beach. They are the source of a constant smell, especially in areas near the water. City authorities spray the rookeries with a spray, but this procedure is not allowed everywhere. And while the municipality is racking its brains, and locals squeamishly cover their nose, happy tourists take pictures of sea lions basking in the sun and joyfully posing with their families.
Downtown San Diego houses one of the largest zoos in the United States. In just a few hours, you can visit the rainforest, the African desert and on an ice floe with polar bears. In the zoo, animals are not only fed, monitored and looked after in every possible way, but they also come up with an entertainment program for them. In fact, everything is like in kindergarten.
But the main pride of the zoo is a list of animals that have been returned to the wild. It already has 44 species, and this is only the beginning.
“We are working on more than 140 projects in 60 countries, and we have a lot of stories on our account with a happy ending,” says Alisa, a zoo employee. “Our program dedicated to pandas as well as the California condor was a great success.” "We managed to restore the population of these birds after there were only about 22 of them left in the early 80s, and now there are more than 400 of them."
The zoo is located in the Balboa Garden - this is one of the oldest parks in the USA and, perhaps, the main attraction of San Diego: its famous corners are depicted on postcards, cups and magnets. The park covers an area of almost 500 hectares - this is not only more than the Central Park of New York, but also the largest park in North America. There are 17 museums, a huge number of park areas and architectural monuments. Balboa Park largely reflects the history of San Diego itself: during the First and Second World Wars, the military were located here, and in the turbulent 60s the Beatles and Rolling Stones performed.
In Balboa Park, everything recalls the period of Spanish colonization - and in the city itself, like throughout California, they speak two languages. San Diego is located right on the border with Mexico. This checkpoint is considered the busiest not only in the United States, but throughout the world.
“We are standing on the US border from San Diego. Behind Tijuana, a Mexican border town, ”says activist and human rights activist Pedro Rios.
Tijuana is the closest neighbor to San Diego. The city with the highest murder per capita in the world. It is fenced off from the USA by two border walls.
“The one next is the new fence. Before, the height of the wall was 3,5 meters, and the new one is higher than five, ”says Rios. “The wall will be finished closer before the end of the year; it will be three stories high.”
San Diego is often at the epicenter of migration crises. Pedro helps those who, fleeing persecution in their home country, are trying to get asylum in the United States. According to him, according to FBI statistics, San Diego (like El Paso in Texas) is one of the safest cities.
“It's a shame to hear in the news that criminals are crossing the border,” says Rios. - This is not true. But people who do not live in border cities do not believe in this. Cities on the border are the real gateway to the country's cultural and economic development. A lot of products and labor are imported from the USA to Mexico. ”
America without Mexican vegetables really can’t feed, but San Diego is a completely autonomous city. The most popular concept of recent years - "from the farm to the table." Only organic and only grown nearby. It is these products that are offered at the Staley family stores.
“People trust our name,” says Christine Staley, owner of Stehly Farms Market. - This is a synonym for quality. We have been supplying San Diego County with vegetables and fruits over the past 20 years. We have collaborated with the largest stores and people know our products. ”
Avocado toast is the king of all kinds of breakfasts, brunches and lunches, not only in America, but also rapidly gaining popularity around the world. In the United States, most avocados are grown in San Diego. Avocados are very popular, this is a trend.
“When I graduated from college, we had a record crop in California, something about 27 million kilograms. Farmers earned about 25 cents per kilogram. And today we grow billions of kilograms and earn more than $ 2 per kilo. That's because popularity and consumption have grown tremendously, ”said Christine's husband Noel Staley, a third-generation farmer.
Noel grew up in San Diego and wanted to be a secret service agent, received a master's degree in international relations. But he soon realized that true passion is a family affair. Noel runs the farm with his brother. Under their leadership, the business model has changed: they began to pack fruit themselves, expanded their assortment, received certificates for organic products and opened stores. No one has to compete with the largest supplier of avocados in the US market - Mexico, says Noel, because local producers can provide only 20% of demand.
“Each of us - in Mexico, Chile, California - has its own market segment. People know our brand: how it looks, what its taste is, and the taste is really different, ”Noel explains. “If anyone suffers from Mexico, it's Chile.”
Despite the popularity of avocados, the golden vein green fruit did not. Due to the sharp jump in water prices, San Diego began to lose its status as the capital of avocados.
“The production of avocados in San Diego County depends on the amount of water available,” Noel says. “She is brought here through canals from the Colorado River and northern California.” Farmers can take only what is left after meeting the needs of the population. But as the population grew, but supply did not, water prices jumped. ”
The city imports up to 90% of the water intended for consumption. Deficit primarily affects farmers, many of whom go out of business. Noel complains about other restrictions, he recently sold to Arizona a piece of equipment that, according to California laws, is outdated and emits too much carbon dioxide. However, even despite the difficulties, he remains in his beloved business. And even, according to him, he doesn’t eat oranges not from his garden, even if someone picked them for him.
For two, Noel and his brother have six daughters, three each. The girls have not yet decided whether they will continue the family business of growing avocados and fruits.
Noel shared a secret on how to clean an avocado.
“Here is my theory,” he says. - You just need to cut it into two halves, then chop a bone with a knife and turn it over. And then you can eat straight from the halves. "
Stephen Mayfield, a professor at the University of California at San Diego, also cultivates a green plant. Using biotechnology, he turns it into oil and plastic. At Mayfield's lab, shelves are littered with flasks of green liquid. A poisonous substance is an algae, the so-called duckweed, which collects on the surface of the water. 30 years ago, Stephen began to study this primitive plant in order to understand how genes influence the phenotype - color or size. However, he soon came to the conclusion: simple algae is not so simple.
“We call it domestication,” Stephen shares. - Best of all, this can be seen in the example of dogs or agricultural plants. But let's take the dogs. In the past, they were wolves or coyotes, and their pets were not very good. But then, over a thousand years, due to changes in genetics, due to crossbreeding and breeding, we made pets of them - for example, such as Chihuahuas. We change genetics to make a guard dog or hunter. We can do the same with algae: we teach it to be what we want. "
By manipulating molecules and genes, Stephen was able to turn algae into a medicine for treating viral infections, and then completely into fuel. Replacing algae with gasoline was too expensive - all because of the heyday of the electric car market and the offshore revolution in the United States.
“I won’t say that we wouldn’t have a competitive price,” says Mayfield. “We could increase efficiency, but not a single industry goes from zero to competition with the largest industry in the world.” It just doesn't work. ”
Mayfield's experiments did not end there, now his main goal is to put humanity in these slippers.
Of course, they are also from algae and can dissolve in water in just 2 years. This will help solve one of the key problems of environmental pollution from plastic waste. Algae slippers are very difficult to distinguish from plastic. They look exactly the same, worn for several years. The most important difference is that these slippers are soluble. The University of San Diego already has an agreement with the largest shoe manufacturers to develop special models. Stephen, meanwhile, assures: algae can not only clean the planet, but also feed it.
“The future is for products that do not require much water and land to grow,” says Stephen. - These resources are more and more in short supply. The population is growing, which means we will need more protein. And algae can provide us with it. ”
San Diego does not live by patterns. The US Naval Power Center and the capital of superheroes, a beach paradise and border checkpoint, a mecca for farmers and celebrities.
No matter how different its inhabitants may be, in San Diego everyone finds their own marina. Whether it is the first California colonists or modern dreamers, the magic of these streets easily turns guests into citizens.
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