Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dolphins in training

We took our friends and neighbors, the Marsings, on a boat outing today. We headed to Puerto Escondido for gas and then over to Honeymoon Bay on Danzante Island where there were a lot of mother dolphins and calves. I think they like the protected and calm area around Danzante where they can teach their young. We tried to get photos, but I found it difficult to catch one in flight. I got a lot of shots of tails mostly. They are all so young and not yet as robust and acrobatic as the mature dolphins you see further out. As they mature they get more playful around a speeding boat where they will ride the bow and leap high into the air.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

In a neighborhood such as Loreto Bay giving directions to one's house is difficult. Although the alleys are named, no one seems to remember or know what the are. In fact I don't even know what ours is called. There is probably a plaque on the opposite end on some side of another house.

Our general description is that we are on the Paseo alongside the commercial spaces, a few blocks down from Evan and Julie's general store toward the hotel in the white house with all the bicycles out front and beside probably the biggest monster ficus tree on the boulevard. "Oh, that tree!" The tree threatens to overtake our home; it grows by bounds every year and to my knowledge hasn't been groomed since the LB development began. It's also the gathering place of the neighborhood's feathered creatures. We are awakened by the riot of what sounds like a thousand chattering birds each morning.

At least we have landscaping. Overall our home and surrounding environs are in a finished state and that feels nice after the first few years of perpetual construction and dust. Now all we complain about is the barren state of the Paseo hoping that it will be paved someday soon. We met a family last week that just took possession of their home in Agua Viva. They were so elated even if they were living through major construction all around them. That's kinda the way it has to be in the beginning years here, but little by little it's coming together. I sense things growing more solid regardless of the development being stymied by ownership issues. Homeowners I know appear relaxed and reassuring about the future of this village.

Loreto has noticeably improved over the five years we've owned our home. The streets and parts of the highway are improved. The stores are stocking more items we desire. The newly opened terminal at the airport is impressive and functional. Closer to home, Evan and Julie's store is a godsend. How nice it is to walk a few blocks for a half gallon of milk or a bag of ice. They even have Grey Poupon! The Community Center is open and running, thanks in great part to Camille Kelly. There is a committee working to organize its functions. It's open for various activities like Zumba and bridge games and anything else homeowners would like to see happen. Its a good start.

By the way, my husband and I are hosting an Easter social this Sunday at 1:00pm. Just a casual occasion to stop in, eat a cookie, say hello to a neighbor and if you have little ones--join in on an easter egg hunt. If you're coming bring two dozen of something sweet to share.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Whale watching

We took the boat out on a search for whales yesterday. Between Coronado and Carmen Island we encountered a pod of what I believe was fin whales. There may have been five or more; it's hard to get a correct count when they don't all emerge together! I'm sure they weren't blue whales which are much larger and thicker. These whales didn't seem to mind our presence, though they weren't the least bit interested in us like gray whales can be.
The one photograph I captured of a whale's head was overexposed, so I've converted it to b/w to see better. Maybe someone who's certain about the identification can confirm or correct my guess of fin whale.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The view from here

Loreto again! After many months home in the States, we find ourselves back in the warm sun and under the perpetual blue skies of Baja California. No decompression time needed--we were straight to the swimming pool, our ghostly white bodies attracting every UV ray in the vicinity.

Getting here was no piece of cake. We couldn't find available seats on Alaska Airlines so we took the back door in to Baja via American Airlines from Kansas City through Dallas to San Jose Del Cabo where we would spend the night before boarding a 12-passenger plane on AeroCalafia to Loreto the next day. We stayed the night at the lovely and quaint Tropicana in San Jose Del Cabo. In the morning the front desk phoned promptly at 7:45 a.m. to announce the arrival of our driver. He loaded us up and off we went to the airport. However; I did not realize that there are actually two airports in Cabo. Our taxi dropped us off at the larger airport in San Jose Del Cabo. AeroCalafia flies out of a smaller airport in Cabo San Lucas. Now we had only one hour to get there. Off we raced in a taxi that kept stalling at stop lights requiring us to transfer midway into another one. Our new driver, genuinely concerned with delivering us on time, raced through back streets avoiding construction zones and street lights, but I never felt anxious. This is Mexico--everything is an adventure. I mentally began imagining Plan B which consisted of another night in Cabo, this time closer to the little airport. Allie's faith in Mexico insisted on the positive: "Mom, we're going to make it." Once I saw our driver making the sign of the cross which made me grin big for his determination. Now I wanted us to make it for his sake alone.

We made the airport five minutes before the plane was to take off. And the amazing and wonderfully Mexican thing is: they waited for us. Somehow we, our five pieces of overweight luggage (for which we were charged $187USD extra), and our tousled little dog managed to get on-board. The plane, a Cessna Caravan (I think it's called) was actually a nice, comfortable ride. I had fretted a bit about being a passenger in a Mexican operated airline. In all things Mexican, I'm wary regarding safety standards. The night I booked the flight I actually spent an hour or more pouring over YouTube videos on "How to land a small plane in an emergency"as if I could prepare myself for the worst. But once in the air, after some observations that the rivets in the wing looked firm and the the wheels in the landing gear weren't flat and the six other passengers were complacent and nodding off to sleep, I relaxed. Our pilot seemed competent enough (he was always adjusting or moving some lever which made him appear alert enough to me.)

We flew at a fairly low altitude which allowed me study the terrain below, a welcome distraction. I examined the shapes and characteristics of the peninsula wondering what formed the mesas and coastal mountains I was seeing. Was it plate tectonics? Volcanic? Was it all underwater and rise? Or did most of it sink into the sea leaving just this narrow boney finger of landmass? Where was Google when I needed it? At one narrow point along the peninsula I could see both the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez. One big Pacific wave could certainly reach the other shore, couldn't it? What a strange barren land. Is there anything alive out there? And then suddenly, we were above familiar territory. There is life ahead: the islands Monserrat and Danzante on the right and the jagged peaks of the Sierra La Giganta on the left, the boats in Puerto Escondido and suddenly the green spread of Loreto Bay, a little dot of emerald in the dried-mud pallet. Hurray. Home.

Really? I'm cheering for this, my second home, my adopted home most unlike my first in every way. It exists for my pleasure and survives my neglect. How did I ever find it in this weird spiny backbone of earth? Odd as it seems I claim it as belonging to me. I know I have some ownership of it, but that's an arbitrary claim. I've staked it, but it's too wild to be tamed. I see that from here in the air. From up here its obvious. My home is in a precarious state of vulnerability. We can build walls and roofs and swimming pools and the appearance of containment, but we are living in a remote and barren piece of earth. All the real living is at its edge--in the sea. Without the sea it might as well be Mars.

But now we're landing and the focus changes. The elements of the living fill my scope and snap me out of this trance. Palm trees and an airport terminal. A couple of Mexican soldiers on the tarmac. Security personnel and baggage checks. Order and processes. A green lawn and streetlights. A refrigerator and a half gallon of cow's milk. That's the view of home from down here. We're home. We're safe.