The ‘other’ side … and Picazone memories …

Coronado Island Just Offshore

This morning, I found myself back in the United States.  It’s then that Baja Dreaming really takes on meaning.  For starters, the temperature was a full 30° colder than the climate I left behind.  The chill in the air seemed almost biting, but for those who have continuity, it was short and t-shirt weather, while I’m wrapped in jeans and a sweater.

I’d spent my last lunch back at Picazone, the remarkable seaside eatery of Alexandro and Imelda Igartua.  On the far outskirts of Loreto, down a dusty dirt road, when one arrives at the open gate and pulls inside, the world changes.  An oasis of palms and local cactus ring a path toward the oversized palapa outdoor dining area.  Large cushioned couches beckon a lazy afternoon, along with appropriately placed hammocks.  And if the creative palate of colors on the walls and the tasteful decorations, there is always the sea, just beyond the palm fringes, beckoning with turquoise and cerulean blues.

Cozy Couches

A large modern kitchen seems almost out of place in this distant outpost.  Sparkling clean and open with a long bar, the always present Imelda greets each visitor as if they were a long lost friend.  This particular trip, son Alex was home from college for a few weeks – with only five days remaining in his vacation!  This time, it was Alex and his dad in the kitchen, as plans and seeds were being laid for a “Picazone ala Guadalara” some time in the future.  With so many cousins and family members in that mainland city, it only makes sense to expand the business.

Carol Boyd – who with husband Lee owns the wonderful Mediterraneo Restaurant in Loreot – and I picked a spot near the water.  Around us, orange, green and yellow clothes covered oversized round tables.  Chips and a variety of chilis, salsas and a special mayonnaise were delivered by Imelda – the perfect hostess.  Drink and food orders were taken, and Carol and I sat down to chat about anything BUT world politics.

Candlelight Romance

Lunch : we both had Tacones – flour tortilla wraps of unimaginable flavors.  This day – 1/2 smoked marlin, the other 1/2 parrot fish.  Divine – and devoured.

With all the guest served, Alejandro and Alex were engage in a furious game of Backgammon.  Carol volunteered another version – Acey Ducey – and then it was Alejandro and Carol, all dice rolling and chip moving.

What a fun lunch – and another great day .. on the other side .. about which, I am dreaming.

August Thunderheads

August Thunderheads

Sultry summer days with the humidity almost as high as the water.  The skies open to wonder and as the winds pick up, the chance of shower increases by the hour.

Everyone drips and whines about the temperatures, yet the summer is so beautiful.  The easy days of spring have given way to the late blooms that are stark in comparison with the dry desert.  A wild array of pink shrouds the mesquite.  Yellow blooms on the cactus and a flowering vine beckon birds and bees that provide a hum against the background of sea slap and wind rattles.

Time for a tall glass of iced tea and a book in the hammock. Lazy afternoons just begging for siesta.

Full Moon Rise Over Mesa & Bay

Full Moon Rise Over Mesa & Bay

The full moon rises slowly above the mesa and grants her colored shine to blue waters of the bay.  Warm offshore breezes hold up the edges of the waves born thousands of miles away.

A few surfers still paddle out to catch what remains of the light.  Later, another group will ride in full moonlit waters.

My arms are spent.  While the swell has not been as large as predicted, I’ve been thrilled to ride overhead waves in warm water and clear skies.  Water temp = 74°.  Air = 88°.  (I’m told back in California the weekend water was a balmy 54°- UGH!)

There’s a lovely reverence at this close of day/start of night.  Several locals, a few surf travelers gather at second point to watch the moon and the last of the surfers.  We chatter about waves, sets .. How many hours we spent in the water .. the diabolical currrent that kept us paddling non-stop simply to stay in position.  How tired we are – while noting when we’ll get back in the water.  There were crowded moments – and then there were moments with only three surfers in the water and more waves than could be ridden.

The waters have been a delightful mix of short and long boarders from San Juanico, Cabo, Canada, Austria, Brazil and the U.S.  Languages blend in the water.  Waves are shared.  Stories of other waves wrap around our amazing glee at finding ourselves in one of the perfect spots at a perfect moment.

I am thrilled that Armando, Manuel, Marta, Jessie & Juan remember me.  “When did you get back?” Armando asks as I wait for the next set.  His bright red board and his broad smile are hard to miss.  He makes me feel apart of the local family, and it’s a feeling that I like.

San Juanico has lodged itself in my heart….. and a sense of its essence and beauty travels with me.

Predawn Beach Walk


Sunrise over Sea of Cortez

Predawn clouds hang heavy over the water.  The dogs and I head north along the shoreline before the sun has crested the horizon.  It is cool, moist, and quiet.  The beach near the house is deserted. Maybe the natives are taking an extra hour of sleep on this lovely Sunday morning.

The usual ‘cast of characters’ greets us.  The pelicans, the terns, the flocks of gulls.  The sea is still in the early hour.  No wind yet ruffles the surface and one could be deluded into thinking it is a lake.

Last night, lightning storms provided a brilliant display over Isla Carmen, with bolts running the length of cloud to sea.  This morning, the left-over clouds drift as if untethered from anything.

For me, this morning is a walking meditation.  I begin with gratitude – how lucky I feel for friends, family, the chance to do creative work.  Grateful for the curious life I have chiseled out of the years that allows me to experience this very moment between night and morning.  This space on the sand next to the sea.

Sorrows slide through the same thought bank.  My brother Gly’s death just two years ago still marks a hollow spot.  Yesterday would have been his 59th birthday, and I miss him.  He was a gifted musician and a full-hearted soul who lost his way in a sea of substances that eventually took his life.

As if on cue, I notice three locals who, from the looks of things, have spent the night on the beach.  The area around their car is littered with empty beer cans, but still, they party on.  One of the young men plays a guitar and the others sing.

I think of how Gly would have liked it here.  His two great loves were fishing and music.   I wish he and I could have had the time to be here together.

I shake off the sadness and remember the joyful conversation with my sister, Claudia.  It was also her birthday yesterday, and she and her husband had taken their canoe to Magic Reservoir south of Bellvue, ID where they live to celebrate. Two years ago she had been here to celebrate my mom’s birthday and mine.  Photographs from that week brighten the walls of Casa de Catalina.

A young Mexican man casts a net over a school of leaping bait fish.  When he hauls the white line back, it is filled.  Buster and Shorty stop to inspect the shimmering silvery fish that spill from the net.  “Pescaditos”(tiny fish) I tease him, and he smiles in response.

The sun inches up over the water line and a shimmer of gold light mirrors on the water’s surface.  Day has begun its spin.  The dogs and I  finish our walk at a rocky point, then turn and head for home.  We play stick toss in the water on the way back.  Shorty’s not much for swimming, but Buster thrives on leaping into the water and retrieving what he finds. He drops his ‘catch’ on the beach and barks until it is again tossed.

As my morning meditation comes to an end, I find that I am again quiet inside, filled with a sense of fullness and peace with this life .. this finding my way one footstep at a time.

Pizza and Good Friends

Catharine Cooper & Patrick Humphrey

Catharine & Patrick walking home after (and with) pizza.

One of the treats in San Juanico is the Friday/Saturday night dinners at Dan Alacran Pizza.  The food is great, and the proprietors – Dan & Jackie – make the place almost feel like home.  In such a small community, it kind of is like eating with your family & friends.  And the possibility is great, that if you didn’t know someone when you came in, you will know them when you leave.  Such was the case a year ago when I met/got to know Cynthia Wagstaff, who is now one of my best friends.

Cathy, Pat & I were definitely ready for a shift from fish tacos.  After a fun day of surf and hanging out at the beach, a pizza and cold beer were on the agenda.  We watched surf videos – a staple of the pizza house –  always hopeful to catch a shot of ourselves (ha ha) in amongst the hot doggers with fabulous rides from second point all the way to first.  Perfect SJ friendships.

After dinner, we walked the short dusty street back to Cynthia’s house for ‘movie date.’   Another great end to a great day!

Ahhh .. which way do these things go?

Which way do these things go?

One of my all time great DUH moments .. Caught in the midst of fin attachment when my friends looked over at me and start laughing uncontrollably.

I look down and yep – fins are all snug in their boxes – backwards!  No counting for Mexican brain – and I don’t think I’d had even one cold cerveza yet!

Wonder what this might do to nose/tail riding?  Should I take off with the board backwards????

With the kind guidance of my friends, the fins were ‘righted’, the board freshly waxed, and great fun was had on San Juancio’s amazing wave machine.

Warm warm water!  Surfed in a bikini for the first time since last summer.   Just how good can it get?????  Oh yes .. days on end better 🙂

Thunder & Lightning

Cloud shrouded sunrise gave way to darker clouds rolling in from the south.  The wind picked up and the dogs and I took to the beach in search of ?? whatever we might find.  Lightning bolts zapped from cloud to sea surface and thunder rumbled across the water.  Still no rain.

We looked at shells, watched brown boobies soar on the currents and pelicans chase pangas that were racing back to marina trying to outrun the storm.  Buster picked up another feather.  Shorty tipped his white toes into the water.

About an hour later, the wind crested and the storm rumbled through.  Ampified thunder bounced between island and the peninsula and BIG drops started to fall.

It as almost as if I could hear the earth sigh.  A long time ago, I had produced a photo series called, “The Desert Dreams of Water.”  There is such magic in the desert landscape – a flash opening into scents that remain sequestered under the hot son.  The blend of sea smells and the moist landscape is nearly hypnotic.

As with most summer storms, the darkness passed – almost too quickly – and left a whitish grey cloud clover with soft drops that continue to fall.  Can’t wait to see the rage of flowers in the next week.