Picazone :-)

I think that Picazone is my favorite lunch spot in all the world.  Set apart from the city by five miles of dirt roads, the remarkable home/restaurant built by Alejandro & Imelda Igartua sits directly on the shoreline of the Sea of Cortez.  They opened five/six years ago with a two burner propane stove and small bar. Now several tables fill an expansive dining area, a wonderful home has risen on top of an expanded kitchen and cozy seating area.  As if the location and the furnishings weren’t grand enough, the food is – to die for.  My favorite are the tacones – wraps filled with a  diner’s choice of fish, scallops, shrimp or vegetables.  Mix and match.  “Para serverle” is the guiding principal of Alejandro’s personal and magnificent service.  His goal : to make each of his guests feel as if they are at home.  He and his wife succeed every time.

Picazone is open Tuesday/Saturday- Noon – Sunset.  Head north of town on Calle Davis ..and when the pavement runs out .. just keep going.  When you find the two-story yellow ochre colored home with palapa roof near the end of the road, you’ve arrived.  Bring a suit on a warm sunny day and treat yourself to a swim.

Here Comes the Sun

Here Comes the Sun

Morning light. Soft. The winds subsided during the night, but are due again in the afternoon.  I wonder at the magic of starting every day like this – with homage to the space between night and day.  In the quiet stillness, the world shifting and energy racing until as the world turns once again toward the light.  Demons scatter.  The brilliance of the sun wipes clean the dark spaces and once again, the world is new.  Once again, everything is possible. On this new day, what magic can I manifest?  What dreams can I pull closer to reality?  What openings can I create in my heart?

Earth Day – Loreto, BCS, Mexico – 2010

Catharine Cleaning Up!

Catharine Cleaning Up!

“There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground…” – Rumi

40 years ago 20 million Americans pooled their energies and created the first Earth Day.  As envisioned by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, the day was to be filled with educational teach-ins.

Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment.  Isolated groups that had been struggling against issues such as oil spills, polluting factories, raw sewage, pesticides, loss of wilderness and extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

The most impressive thing about the beginnings of the movement was its grassroots organization.  “Earth Day” had no central governing body and simply grew on it’s own.  The event is now celebrated in more than 175 countries.

Earth Day in Loreto, BCS, Mexico, – “Loreto Pride in Action” – was celebrated on Sunday, April 18th.  Fueled by the relentless dream of the local environmental awareness group and sponsor, Eco-Alianzia, this year’s event had over 200 participants from all walks of the community, with the greatest number being youths from Loreto.

A location was selected that had become a dumping ground of local trash and garbage.  Arroyo Candeleria is the second largest arroyo in Loreto and during the summer storm season, becomes a raging torrent, sweeping anything within its banks into the Sea of Cortez.  To clean this dry river bed not only benefits the current environment by ridding it of trash and toxic chemicals carelessly left behind, but protects the waters and its inhabitants in the upcoming months.

The event began with sign-ins at 7:30 in the morning.  Participants were given name tags, t-shirts displaying the Pride Campaign logo of the Chocolate Clam, the Bay of Loreto National Park, Eco-Alianza and the Waterkeeper Alliance – and a handful of heavy-duty black trash bags.  A short walk to the arroyo was the last easy task of the morning hours.

While not quite a dump, the arroyo had more than its share of disposed diapers, fish heads, empty plastic bottles, tires, paint cans, spent or broken building supplies, broken roof tiles, clothing, discarded shoes, beer and wine bottles, along with molded reeking garbage.  At times a gagging reflex interfered with collecting the waste.

There are several reasons for the refuse. The primary is lack of education and an understanding of the relationship of the arroyo to the health of the sea.  This year’s Pride Campaign logo – “Por un mar lleno do vida” – “For a sea full of life!” – was designed to increase awareness.

The second and third reasons have to do with garbage collection.  While there is a service, not everyone has garbage cans, and the pickup is only once a week.  With fisherman, the catch – and resultant fish heads and remains – are often a daily occurrence.  Most of them have no automobiles or trucks with which to transport the fish refuse to the city dump, and to put them in cans next to their house is to invite a fly fest and stench of unimaginable proportions.

The fourth reason is based on habit – with a hint of laziness.  It’s always been dumped that way. There hasn’t been demonstrated sufficient reason to change.

Which takes the arguments full cycle back to the involvement of the youth in the clean-up process.  Always, it is through the youth that real change is born and instituted.  They may not be able to alter the behaviors of their parents, but they are learning for themselves the interrelationship of land to sea.

For myself, I was fascinated that as I cleaned one area, there were layer upon layer of trash to be removed.  Lifting up a bag of garbage revealed another layer of bottles.  Picking up the bottles revealed another layer of tattered clothing.  Lifting up the clothing revealed another layer of garbage and plastic.

Bags of trash and broken furniture were loaded into pickup trucks and trailers headed to the dump.   At last, the dusty, tired cadre of clean-up crew reached the end of the arroyo at the highway.  Behind us – a pristine environment – the efforts of our labor clearly visible to all.

A barbeque luncheon on the beach at Rancho El Jaral was hosted by Eco-Alianzia for all the participants.  A quick dip in the turquoise blue waters provided the perfect antidote for the dusty cleanup.

“Loreto Pride Campaign” pooled the energies of several local groups, including Rare Conservation’s Director of the Fisheries Fellow Program, Cynthia Mayoral, The Bay of Loreto National Park, the “Pride” Campaign Manager, Perla Lozano Angulo and her colleagues, and Edna Peralta, program coordinator for children’s education and outreach programs of Eco-Alianza.

The ultimate goal of Earth Day is that every day becomes a celebration of the planet we call home.  Again, it’s our job to protect her, to nurture her and increasingly commit ourselves to living within a sustainable envelope.  We all win – the earth and us – when we make conscious choices about our food, water, consumables and waste.   Be thoughtful. Be careful. Envelop the planet with the same love with which you shower your children and friends.

Catharine Cooper loves – cleans – and supports wild places.  She can be reached at ccooper@cooperdesign.net.


Rigo replanting the edge of the walkway

It’s taken 10 days, five city officials, two layers, one environmentalist, extraordinary patience, and strained relationships with neighbors, but at last, the city has blessed our ‘replanting’ plans which beautify the community walkway, provide a modicum of privacy to my home, and a support a fledgling bird habitat.  And along with the blessings was an agreement to keep the plantings no higher than the ridgeline of the house, and the neighbors ‘trim’ permit was rescinded.  The costs were large by any standards, the emotional upheaval and grief ridiculous, and all of it unwarranted and stupid.  Acts of deception and lies led to the wholesale chainsawing of a lovely 13 year old tree – which all had agreed to trim – not chop down.

I’ll say it again .. the only thing I find to fear in Mexico are Americans who want to transplant their complicated lives to this lovely serene town.

I sat by the sea this afternoon trying to figure out why this happened?  What precipitated acts of bad judgment?  In the end, I have to accept that I’ll never understand.  Instead, I’ll watch as new plantings slowly fill the space that their predecessors once occupied, and thrill as the bird population rediscovers a habitat and sanctuary.

As I finish that sentence, a stunning road runner leaps onto the garden wall, flicks his head side to side, spies the grasshopper he’s been chasing and takes off into the remaining tall tree.  Yes, another wonder filled day.

Dinner at Cynthia’s

Dinner with Cynthia and Cal in their lovely home. Palapa rooftop vista of town and the sea.  Good friends from La Ventana : Ron, Irene & Norm.  From Santa Inez Valley : George. From Hood River, Oregon : Kristine.

Yum food.  Good fun. Lots of laughter.  Yes.  Life can be bliss!

cynthia & cal

The first time I met Cynthia, she was sure she already knew me. We were sitting in the pizza restaurant in San Juanico, and while she sure seemed like someone I ought to know, I couldn’t find a memory to connect us.  We chatted back and forth, and voila – she was from Sun Valley, where my sister, Claudia lives.. a sister with whom I share a facial likeness.  Voila!  What I don’t think that either of us knew then, was what good friends we would become.  With shared optimistic outlooks, Baja grit in between our teeth, and wide open hearts — it’s been a grand gift of a later in life friendship.

Cynthia in her Garden

Cynthia lives full time in San Juanico in a beautiful home that she and her very clever, very talented, very crafty husband, Cal, have built on the slope of a hillside.  The upstairs palapa has a killer view of the town to the sea, and the newly completed casita even sports an outdoor bathtub!

An organic garden compliments Cynthia’s kitchen magic – a real chef – a master with whatever ingredients are in the fridge, the bowl, or on the shelf.

In fact, she’s even got a new blog : BajaLuna – which incorporates her stories of living in a small fishing/surf village with tasty recipes and ideas for combining ingredients.

Cal watering the garden

Surfing into Sanity

catharine surfing

August, 2009 - Month 3 of re-surfing

There is one truth that I discovered in the past year : I am healthiest when I spend time in the water.  Surfing has quickly become the water connection of choice.  I think it’s because of the intimacy, the complete identification of self with water that happens with a swell under my feet.

The waves are my Zen – my soul space – my sanity.

I know that I’m not the first to have this experience, nor will I be the last.  Thousands of surfers would attest to the sense of timelessness that happens when they paddle into a wave, feel the power generated by winds sometimes thousands of miles away, move and change their lives.

I had surfed when I was a teenager, and then some time spent in Hawaii.  But when I returned to the states, I ran into some really agro male surfers who pushed me off waves, cut me off – basically tried to convince me that they owned the water.  And I guess they won.  I went to college, worked three jobs, and then an inland marriage carried me within visual sight of the water, but a long drive through crowded freeways.

San Juanico, August 2009

Someday with luck this will be me ... such beauty!

It took a major upheaval in my life – to not coax me – but throw me back into the water to find myself, my voice, and my sanity.  Now, there’s not much to keep me out of it.  I’ve broken my nose on my own surfboard – and found my way back into the water six days later.  I’ve got fin cuts, bruises, and rock slices on my feet.  Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t stop me.

A friend, Mikey, said, we get hurt, but we go back.  It’s true.  It’s what do, because there is magic in the waves …  Magic worth the paddle effort, the injuries, long drives or plane flights …

Now, when I run into agro guys, I first try to befriend them – if that doesn’t work, ignore them – and at last jump, just surf alongside of them.

The waves are free ….  the waves are free …..

Stillness and bird chatter begin the day ..

Morning Light

Morning Light, Loreto

sun rises. dog snuggles.  hunkered down in the patio with laptop and laprobe.  cool crisp clean air.  the chatter of bird talk as finches, wrens and orioles flit tree to tree.  in the palm above me, the cooing of rock doves.  gentle splash as calm seas surge over beach stones.

pongeros head out for a day of fishing.   the loreto fleet of pelicans crash lands in front of me.  buster longs to catch one. ha ha ..

yes .. this is why i come here. …  coffee’s cold .. i must have been lost in thought ….

Lunch at Picazone


YUM YUM YUM .. and what a setting!  No trip to Loreto is complete without a stop at the tony beachfront restaurant owned by Alejandro and Imelda Igartua.

Relaxing at Picazone

The food is amazing – or did I say that?  My favorite are the tacones – wraps with fish, shrimp, chicken or veggies.

The two came from Cabo 10+ years ago looking for a better place to raise their two sons – Alex Jr and Diego.  They found some property way to the north of town down a long dusty dirt road.  Starting with a tiny 2 burner propane camp stove and a few tables, they have grown the property to include upstairs living quarters, as well as an expanded restaurant.  Alejandra has a full bar, is the most gracious of hosts, and makes each visitor feel completely at home.

Boaters drop passengers, then anchor just offshore.  Schools of fish add snorkeling opportunities, and Alejandro offers windsurfing lessons in his spare time!

A must stopover.  Ask anyone in town for directions ..