Sunday, May 31, 2009

May is the best month

May has been the best month ever. Not only great for getting outside in the water, but just full of all kinds of memorable times.

Ryan and I took kayaks out around Point Nopolo in into the estuary yesterday. He brought his dog, Banks, who is still a puppy, along. Banks had never been in the ocean and now he was perched on the front end of a kayak overwhelmed with the sights and sounds. It was fun to watch his reactions. There was a huge colony of brown pelicans along the rock that would reluctantly take flight when we got too close. It's almost frightening when they pass overhead in large numbers--they make such a racket. Then there was all the sea life below. The sea was so calm and clear; we could see numerous starfish and anemones and every type of fish. I could barely contain my delight. Poor Banks, he didn't know what to think. He would repeatedly jump off the kayak and soon realize he had nowhere to go. Ryan would have to pull him back on the kayak. The dog certainly wore himself out.

Robert is wearing himself out as well. With Ryan here he's more active. This morning, at daybreak, I heard them making commotion in the kitchen as they prepared to go fishing. It's 2:00pm and they're not back yet. I am faithfully waiting for the "catch," because we are long overdue for a fish feast. If it's not fishing, then they are at the pool swimming, or throwing tennis balls great distances for the dog to fetch, or doing handi-work around the house like erecting a make-shift fence for Banks.

Robert has also started volunteering at the Internado in Loreto. Internado is the Spanish word for boarding school. It serves the many children who live on ranches in rural Baja (ha, an oxymoron for sure) where there are no schools. Although he knows no Spanish he is invaluable as a fun guy who will play games and entertain these wonderful kids. Whatever he does with them they are just happy for the fun and distraction. His involvement makes me curious to join, but this is his own pursuit, I don't want to hone in on him. Besides I have enough with our own "kids," the ones we are homeschooling. I had them making sugar cube Mayan pyramids this week. The project turned out to be more enjoyable than I imagined.

Puppy in the rain spout

Yes, that's a dog in the rain spout. Every night when we pass this house we hear the puppy bark, but it wasn't until recently that Robert discovered he was actually in the rain spout.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Finding a dead whale

Robert found a decomposing whale carcass earlier this week. He was fishing along the coastline just south of Loreto Bay. Our friend, Bruce, says that it's fortunate to find something like this so close to home (not fortunate for the whale, which is probably a fin whale, but exciting for the curious.) I think most dead whales sink to to ocean floor and decompose and get eaten. Dead whales don't often strand onshore. I have no idea how this whale ended up on the shore.

Robert took his fish fillet knife and sawed off a piece of the vertebrae for a souvenir of sorts. He estimates the single vertebrae weighs about 5o pounds, but Bruce says in a year, as the oil leeches out, it will reduce in weight to about 5 pounds. Other people have been carving at it the carcass as well. No telling how much longer it will be there.

A few days later Robert took Allison and some of the neighbor kids out for a look. They were impressed, but apparently the carcass was "stinky." Even at that degree of decomposition the whale emits a terrible odor.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Nice work if you can get it

Our younger son, Ryan, has arrived to begin an unpaid summer internship with Dolphin Dive. He'll spend 12 weeks assisting in the shop, learning how the business is run; a pretty cherry summer job, we think. The only downside for him is that he'll be away from his friends. I'm thrilled to have him in our lives like old times. This closeness may never happen again. He'll finish school and move on never to live with mom and dad again--at least that's the plan.

He seems excited to be here. This is, after all, a virtual playground. For an active person there is much to do. He and Robert have already taken the boat out fishing. Soon he will be taking clients out on scuba adventures. I predict it will be the best summer of his life. Enjoy it now, we say, there's plenty of hard work ahead.

Our home school is going well. Things are falling into place. The kids meet at our dining table every morning with Natalia. M-W-F the kids go to Lynda's for lunch and language arts. T-TR they stay with me for lunch and a history lesson. This week we'll study the Mayans, next, the Aztecs. When we finish they ride their bikes to the pool and I usually won't see Allison again till dinner-time. She's at that happy age I remember so well. Afternoons spent on bicycles and at friends' houses, exploring the world outside and coming home famished and exhausted.

Being in the minority, these kids receive a lot of good attention from the adults that live and work here. I absolutely love that. What a gift, I think, to see them interact in the world of adults. Here, people have the time and interest to speak to them, to share things with them. Allison is growing so comfortable with conversing with adults. She even has favorites that she stops to visit. People inquire about her, include her. It sounds corny but, this is a village helping raise my daughter. Lucky, lucky, lucky. Whatever might be lacking, there is that unique element that this life here offers. Okay, I do admit I have one concern: that she will think adults have all the free time in the world to play, including her parents. In a worrisome moment I said to Robert, "Are we setting an unreal expectation for her? " Unlike our sons she won't remember us working. She may grow up thinking that a lot of people don't have to work and she'll be lazy. He answers by reassuring me that with me for a mother she doesn't stand a chance of being lazy. (He thinks I am too project-oriented.)

Anyhoo, I do enjoy life at the moment far removed from the toils of the past. I keep it real by reminding myself that life can change on a dime. These are just good old days in the making.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Getting the education you want

Sunday we took a late afternoon ride in the boat. There is just no way a photo (one that I take) can capture the beauty of Loreto Bay at sunset. Robert and I try to walk every evening at sunset along the golf course, just like at home, but here the scenery is much better. There's a hole that is perched in a hillside with picture perfect views to the ocean on one side; the mountains on the other. We always stop there for a moment to take it all in. Robert stands on the bluff surveying the ocean: I sit on the turf mesmerized by the variations of shadow and light the setting sun throws on the mountains. Again, another example of how differently two people look at the world. Once I sputtered, "Stop looking at that ocean and look at this!"

It's really perfect here now; the days are warm and getting warmer. Many folks are readying to leave for the summer. We too, want to get out before it gets too hot, but then if you do, you miss a lot of what the Sea of Cortez has to offer. The sea gets warmer and more inviting. Snorkeling and scuba diving become enticing again. All attention goes to the water for relief and recreation.

We decided after the long spring break followed by two more weeks off for fear of swine flu (there was none), to home-school Allison. The Ford family has joined us in creating our own "school" with Natalia acting as schoolmistress. For three hours she teaches math and Spanish (totally in Spanish) then Lynda and I follow with other subjects. I've donned myself head of the history department. My lessons will follow the early history of Mexico, or Mesoamerica, starting with a fascinating ancient civilization, the Olmecs, a culture that carved those colossal stone heads, and ending with the Spanish conquest. I am currently obsessed with researching material to offer the kids, a challenging task as there are no Borders Books and swanky libraries here in Loreto. We manage to get by with a lot of help from internet downloads and Youtube videos. Natalia is going to La Paz this weekend: maybe she'll have luck finding some appropriate reading material.

Again, my hope is to eventually start a school in Loreto Bay, or at least create a space for a learning center. We could pool our resources, adding materials as we go until we have our own "library" and workshop. Until then, we are doing fine with what we have. In many ways it is the ideal situation: we create the education we want.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Back to Loreto

We had three wonderful weeks in San Diego. We flew back to Loreto, put Allison back in school only to see it let out for two weeks more due to the Swine Flu scare. However, there is no swine flu anywhere in these parts. I think the whole affair is overblown and will fade away like the West Nile Flu and other "potential pandemics." Meanwhile the Mexico economy suffers and good people are without work.

I'm so happy to be back in Loreto Bay where the pace is slow. I love San Diego. We could live there. It's biggest drawback to me is the humanity. There, if you have an idea to do something, you can count on waiting behind twenty other people having the same idea at the same time. Here I'm accustomed to having full run of the show. No lines, no real traffic. BUT, no amenities. It is quite the trade-off. However, I do like the privilege of living in both worlds.

Rather than Allison miss any more school we're having Natalia over every day for "homeschool." The Ford children are joining us too. We are working out the details for forming our own school here in Loreto Bay. It is something I have been working towards since day one. Now that Allison's Spanish is improved I think the time is right to move back to a more progressive curriculum. The beauty of it all is that we have Natalia, who only speaks Spanish. She will teach them for three hours in the a.m. totally in Spanish and then we parents will take over for the afternoon with our own specialities.

I am singularly focused on this project at the moment. I am no teacher, but I know where to find resources. I believe we will create a wonderful environment for these kids and that this will be the seed for other families with school-age children. I am very excited about this. We have a lot of planning ahead. More on that later.

Months ago we talked with the kids about building a fort. They must have gotten tired of the talk and built the thing themselves--or rather assembled it. The last few days they have disappeared around the corner from the Fords' house to a spot beside a home under construction. There they gathered scraps and fashioned a little deck/clubhouse. Form this photo it may look like nothing, but we thought it was pretty cute.

Other news: The Puerto Escondido Yacht Club held its annual Loreto Fest this weekend. Allie and I took a look (Robert is still home in the States.) I thought they put out a lot of effort to make it as entertaining as possible. If nothing else, they had the most beautiful setting as a back-drop. Our dear friend, and neighbor, Cathy, gave a nice vocal performance. Most people there were the crusty sailor types. Arr arr arrgh, a sailor's life for me. I wish I could, but I just can't see myself living on a boat. Now an Airstream trailer--that's different!