Saturday, July 01, 2006

Seeing what's out there

My sister-in-law, Sara, and my niece, Lucy, are here for a visit. We are trying to spend as much time as possible on the water. Thursday, we took a panga boat out to Coronado island. Allison's friend, James, and his mother came along, as well as Rafa, who manages the boat rentals and his daughter, Pearla. For James and Allie the trip was in celebration of the end of first grade. School ended early following a morning of "Social Labor" which involved each child helping to clean the premises with buckets and sponges. I think for the first graders it amounted to wiping their desks clean and washing down the classroom.

We spent today at the Inn at Loreto Bay alternately swimming in the pool and the ocean. The girls built sand castles decorated with things I found along the water: broken shells, two tiny dead crabs, seaweed for landscaping, and a dried fish carcass which they perched on top of a sand tower. Sara gingerly put her feet in the water and I knew why. She was concerned about stepping on a stingray. We'd warned her about the stingray shuffle--drag your feet a little to give warning to any burrowed rays. We didn't see any all day. No jellyfish either, thank goodness. Sara had heard the stingray stories from various people and was understandably cautious. Cath, my friend who came along on our panga ride, explained the first-aid procedure for stingray "bites" and we insisted she, being the experienced one, bring along the thermos of hot water to soak the venom out of the bite. I'd bring the tequila, the other suggested antidote.

I corraled and caught a puffer fish with a tiny sand bucket and we gathered to watch it expand with water till its little spines stood erect. When we let it go it listed a bit until it fully deflated and zipped away. A fellow that Robert knows strolled by with his chocolate lab, Franny, and her tennis ball. He stopped and let the girls throw the ball into to sea for Franny to fetch it up. As tenacious as Labradors are when it comes to fetching objects in the water, Franny showed some difficulty enduring each salty mouthful that came along with every fetch. Her owner said she was a bit fatigued; apparently, she is pregnant. Unfortunately, the father is a Jack Russell Terrier, he said. The offspring could be springy, chocolate-spotted puppies who love to swim and perform silly tricks like pulling off your socks; or they could have short-legged, shaggy-coated terrier bodies with giant Labrador heads. Come to think of it, they'd be in line with the typical Loreto dog of mismatched parts.

A panga boat pulled up to shore unloading young American fishermen with their haul of dorado. One man threw the catch one by one to his buddy who lined them up on the beach for photographing. The fish gleamed metallic green and blue in the sunlight. One that was still alive, opened its mouth for one last gasp before expiring. Then the fishing buddies posed for pictures, hoisting the fish by the tails into positions that demonstrated the great length of the dorado. Several were nearly four feet long. The buddies were very pleased with themselves and too preoccupied to pay much attention to our curiosity. Immediately, the fish were reloaded to the boat and the fishermen hurried off the the hotel.

We made an attempt to take the hotel kayaks out, but one by one the participants, (including two little friends who came along) dropped out. Allison realized her face was too sunburned and stung, another child grew too fearful as soon as we pushed off the shore, another, tired of the repeated delays and false starts, finally asked in Spanish to return to his mother. Only Lucy hung in there. She and her uncle Robert made it around the big rock to the estuary.

At the end of the day we were tired and waterlogged, but in great spirits. I couldn't think of another thing to possibly add interest to the day, but Sara and I managed to find one last impression to add to her experiences here. While driving back from Loreto for our frappacino run to Coffee Star, the Starbucks of Loreto, we saw a Mexican taking a whiz alongside the highway. Right there in the open. No car to hide behind, no attempt to find a bush, just him standing before God and afternoon traffic, peeing into the dry baja dust.

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