Four weeks flew by, and it was time to pick Eva up at camp, so I decided to finally check out a place I’ve heard about but never visited, Pepper Tree Retreat in Ojai.
Their brochure says: “Pepper Tree Retreat, an Ojai retreat with vegetarian cuisine, is the former home of philosopher J. Krishnamurti, perhaps Ojai’s most famous resident. Krishnamurti lived here from 1922 to 1986, welcoming visitors from around the world who were challenged by his penetrating inquiries into the fundamental questions of life. These included such 20th Century luminaries as Annie Besant, Aldous Huxley, John Barrymore, Greta Garbo, David Bohm, Dr. Jonas Salk, D.H. Lawrence, Jackson Pollack, Igor Stravinsky and many others. The retreat guest rooms are named after these visitors, some of whom stayed in the rooms that are named for them.”
(I originally booked the Charlie Chaplin room but it wasn’t ready in time so ended up in the Annie Besant suite instead: a nice upgrade as you can see!)
My suite of rooms was in a beautifully maintained 1910 farmhouse set among towering eucalyptus, oak, and pepper trees.
In addition to a main bedroom, I also had a screened-in patio with writing desk which had views of the porch, rose garden, orange grove, and mountains in the distance. Ojai is a very narrow valley so there are beautiful mountain views on both sides.
The whole place smells like orange blossoms and eucalyptus. There is such quiet except for sometimes when you walk past pepper trees you hear a low buzzing: bees! There are lots of bees all around Ojai but none ever seem that interested in people, luckily. And I was a little worried I might see a snake but nope, no snake sightings either.
I could walk right out my back porch down a winding path where I took my morning walk.
The retreat is amazing. There is a wonderful, still feeling that is both restful and restorative while also stimulating. I felt calmly energized even though it was hot (even by Ojai summer standards it was hot: over 100 degrees and humid, overcast with light sprinkles in the morning which is very rare.)
The common areas are beautiful. Breakfast in the main dining room was simple but somehow everything tasted wonderful. I asked the dreadlocked and nose-ringed guy who was putting out the food whether the jam (simply labeled “organic berry”) was made on the premises.
“It’s from Trader Joe’s. I can show you the jar if you want.” I noticed many of the products around the house came from Trader Joe’s, and I should have asked who gets stuck doing the shopping, since TJs always has THE worst parking lots. I would love to know a yogi’s tricks for navigating the Trader Joe’s parking lot without losing it.
There’s a living room area with comfortable chairs and couches. The walls are lined with books. One entire wall is filled with books written by Krishnamurti. (He wrote a lot!) An umbrella stand filled with rolled yoga mats sits near the French doors leading to a shady patio.
Water and tea are set out all the time, and the water pitcher had rosemary and sliced oranges (grown on premises; the night caretaker urged me to pick whatever I wanted when I was there.) They even had my favorite tulsi tea. Score!
By day it was beautiful but I admit I was a teeny bit concerned that I might get scared at night. You just never know. Sleeping in a creaky old farmhouse haunted by the ghost of Charlie Chaplin (okay, I just made that up, but it sound like it could be true, right!?) might be scary.
I brought my airplane-freebie sleep set (eye mask and earplugs sealed in plastic) and my Essence of Vali sleep aromatherapy, but I didn’t need them. I fell asleep and slept soundly until I woke with natural dawn light. But when I checked the clock I saw it was only 2 a.m. “Supermoon” had been two nights before and the moon was still really light, and by the wee hours it was shining in through the window at my headboard like daytime. It was like summer in Finland.
I was initially worried that I might have to make chitchat with fellow guests or visitors to the retreat center but luckily everyone was very quiet and vague. Nobody asked why I was there or how I decided to come for a visit. Everyone had vague unplaceable possibly European sounding accents, and there were a lot of natural fibers and braided hemp sandals.
So anyway, the retreat was wonderful, and I plan to return for a longer visit in the future. Best of all, it was only a few minutes from camp so I was able to be one of the first cars in line, pick Eva up, and be home before rush hour. Score again!