She was just reminding me that I had left Chicago for California.
Nonetheless, the fantasy of the cities of gold is probably as ancient as the Bible. Wasn't Eden a city of gold? And the famous Odyssey of the Greeks was an adventure about a man who couldn't find his way home to his wife and family for ten years because of his search for the golden city.
"Men are so foolish," she said.
I read to her from a worn old book: "In one thousand BC those excitable Greek warriors thought it was Troy, and they left their own beautiful islands to fight a war and build a Trojan horse in order to steal that city of gold. The Spanish were equally foolish when they fought and were slain by the Native Americans, they and their soldiers on horseback, their 1,000 black slaves and Mexican Indians."
"Not very practical," said Isabel.
Sometimes I feel pain for poor Esteban, eight years to get to Mexico City and he left. I've lived for a time in Mexico City and Esteban should have stayed there.
Some people think the Seven Cities of Gold are mythology, and there was even a 1955 historical adventure film about it, set in the Eighteenth century. It was based on a novel of California where men chose Gold or God. The sword or the cross.
"There's an adventure game of that name," said Isabel. How come she knows so much?
If any of these fabled explorers had asked me, I would have told them exactly where the golden cities are, and their names. Just a short time ago Isabel and I visited them.
The greatest of the seven golden cities is Morro Bay, with its incredible harbor and the dangerous pass that leads out to sea, next to massive Morro Rock, sixty stories high, home of the Peregrine Falcon, and no elevator. No one knows why they call it Morro. There are stories about the name, about as accurate as a tabloid newspaper story.
There are the fisheries and fishermen and the careening birdlife, from herons to pelicans to seagulls to hummingbirds, and others more exotic. And the grand estuary wherein flows one of the Seven Rivers.
Here are the other golden cities, each with its own astonishment of riches: San Simeon, Cambria, Harmony, Los Osos, Atascadero, and Paso Robles. All I have to do is think of these names and I begin to dream.
In these seven cities of gold are the treasures which the Spanish and Greek adventurers never found, for they were looking for the wrong kind of gold.
There are seven other cities of gold on the Central Coast: San Luis Obispo, Cayucos, Moonstone Beach, Arroyo Grande, Avila Beach, Los Olivos, and Pirate's Cove.