“Have you been to a place, far away from it all…?” – from the song Lost Horizon of the movie musicale with the same title.
This is how I felt all throughout when I stayed at that upstate locale, Jeffersonville in the state of New York for almost two months for a job stint.
There is a sense of isolation, a sense of being alone, specially so that there is not much of a distraction from any of the popular fastfood area, or from any of the large shopping malls and groceries within this small village.
For those missing the citylife, it is almost cruel irony, that the borough of Manhattan, the world’s financial district, and densely populated by famous skyscrapers and megastructures is merely about 3 1/2 hours away. However for the unfortunate ones who don’t own cars, it will take several hundred bucks for a one way taxi-ride, and that is - if there is one willing to take you there. For a direct bus ride from the area, you have to thank the Jeffersonville Bank (the lone bank in the entire area) to sponsor one bus that should take 60 people for a bustrip to the city. And this momentous excursion happens every three months – once for every season at a reduced price of 30 dollars – two way.
However if you are not into the grime and fast paced city living, then surely you will take in all what you can from leisurely life of Jeffersonville. From a good vantage point, there is the stretch of mountains and hills all over to envelop your visual sense. Then trek down the scenic waterways and probably, have a canoe ride at Delaware River. Admire the architectural Americana of houses and inns that will transport your imagination to Jefferson’s storied past, settled in by mostly Eastern Europeans. Saunter and buy something for yourself in several of the eclectic mix of antique shops, themed restaurants and one mini-grocery in what the community calls “Downtown.”
Overall, this is a sleepy town, no doubt. This is where you cocoon yourself to take that hobby of potterymaking, photography, or probably, in my case, blog writing to further level. This is where you consume sleep and rest without distraction from any of the urban excesses such as traffic, pollution, noise and even excessive workload.
But it is not everyday snoozetown at Jeff (nickname for the place). Every so often, the relaxed routine at Jeffersonville is punctuated by activities that should excite its dwellers, and should invite tourists and guests to partake in.
During the summer month of August, at nearby Bethel Woods Center of the Arts, there is a number of rock and pop bands dishing out their musical wares to celebrate the Woodstock phenomenon in year 1969. Today, people flock to this museum cum open air auditorium overlooking the original farmland where the now iconic, three day rock festival happened, and enjoy the spirit of the legendary musicians and bands that participated before – Joan Baez, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, Blood, Sweat and Tears, and a lot more.
And during one weekend in October, frenzied photographers take pictures and create photoessays about the lives of people inside Jeffersonville. Eddie Adams, a native of this place and Pulitzer Prize winner for an iconic Vietnam news photograph, created a seminar of sorts for those interested in documenting life in still pictures some years ago. A hundred students still attend this important annual lecture-workshop series that is graced by professionals from National Geographic, New York Times, Sports Illustrated in furthering their eye for photojournalism.
Surely there is no Filipino community in this area, unlike perhaps Manhattan or even Queens. But in the very heart of Jeffersonville, there is a motley crew of Filipinos working and caring for many of its ageing and psychologically challenged residents. The owners and workers of Jeffersonville Senior Living have accommodated their guests with the unique Filipino way of giving utmost kindness and servitude. Jeffersonville may be remote and out of the way, but to its denizens and the Filipinos staying for the meantime, just like the Burt Bacharach song suggests, it is “Lost Horizon.”
Have you ever dreamed of a place Far away from it all
Where the air you breathe is soft and clean And children play in fields of green
And the sound of guns Doesn’t pound in your ears (anymore)
Have you ever dreamed of a place
Far away from it all
Where the winter winds will never blow
And living things have room to grow And the sound of guns Doesn’t pound in your ears anymore.
Many miles from yesterday before you reach tomorrow
Where the time is always just today
There’s a lost horizon, waiting to be found.
There’s a lost horizon Where the sound of guns
Doesn’t pound in your ears anymore.