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.

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