Great Baja Girlfriends!

Cynthia & Catharine

Figures that I’d meet friends for the ‘rest of my life’ in sleepy towns south of the border. On a surfing safari to San Juanico, a beautiful blonde approached me at pizza dinner, claiming that for sure she knew me.  I was taken aback, but she was so emphatic – almost as sure as I was that I’d never met her before in my life!

After a few go-rounds of questions, we figured out that she had been the neighbor of my sister, Claudia, in Sun Valley, Idaho … and since my sister and I look very much alike, the mystery was solved.

Cynthia Wagstaff, as I’d come to know her, lives for most of the year in San Juanico. She is a talented painter, writer (her blog : baja luna) , gardener, designer and explorer of life.  Which barely touches on the fact that she is an incredible chef!  She has the ability to create a gourmet meal out of whatever happens to be in the icebox or the cupboard – and no matter who drops by, she finds a way to create a feast that leaves everyone raving – and wanting more!

Cynthia’s ‘mom’ to Pancho & Chica – two adorable rescue dogs – who dote on her as she dotes on them.  Ball play and stick chase .. long beach walks and adventures.  While not a surfer, Cynthia’s an avid swimmer, snorkeler, butt boarder and stand-up-paddler.

You can find her easily cruising the cliff tops and beaches in her bright yellow Volkswagen or her streamlined Subaru.  She’s the one with the sparkling eyes and the big broad smile.

Water drop kisses

Afternoon Rainbow

An afternoon storm swept in quietly without much wind or fanfare.  The sky had been cloud filled, but toward four o’clock, light grey turned to dark, and heavy drops fell intermittently.

There is such magic in the desert when there is rain, especially when it passes through without floods or washed roads.  The afternoon shower was brief, but delightful.  Buster and I walked north toward the distant point, laughing at the drops, watching the birds fluff the feathers.

Vulture & Osprey Holding Court

On the branches of a tall cardon, a vulture and an osprey seemed to be holding court.  Their watchful eyes searching for food, even at some distance for the osprey from the water.

As the storm passed through, the droplets became heavier, but still felt like kisses.  All of a sudden, a rainbow – that magical golden arc of light – crossed the sky in front of me.  What a perfectly delightful way to celebrate Friday.

High Flying Politics

It’s election time in Mexico, and that means banners and posters plaster near every empty bit of wall and building.  Smiling faces of candidates hang from telephone and electrical posts, and in the middle of intersections.  Cars appear to be wallpapered with placards, which increase as the days to election day shorten.

Foreigners are forbidden by Mexican law from participating or interfering in the local political process.  So for the most part, I ignore the signs, except to muse on who has the most handsome photograph.

Apart from the signs, there are the automobiles, the uniquely Mexican form of advertisement that consists of a canned speech or slogan blared from loudspeakers mounted to the top of moving vehicles.  For the most part, the volume is so high and the speakers of such poor quality, that whatever message is being relayed sounds garbled to my ears.  I admit, I’ve finally figured out on Wednesday that the message is for 1/2 off the price of bottled water, but beyond that, I usually don’t have a clue what is being sold or touted.

This afternoon, the speaker volume seemed to grow louder in my neighborhood, and circle round and round.  What road could they possibly be on to create such an echo?  When I walked outside to take a look, I had a surprise!

Overhead, a small above-wing aircraft, not unlike those used in crop-dusting, was flying in low circles over the city, arcing ever wider to cover all the residences and businesses.   It wasn’t insecticides spewing from this aircraft, but political slogans for one of the political contenders, which consisted of  some unintelligible message.

A first for me – a political-spraying aircraft.  Only in Mexico!

Buster & the Burro

Buster & the Burro

The horses and burros have made themselves at home in the neighborhood.  Sometimes they are beyond the fenced perimeter; sometimes the just walk through the gate.  The search for green and edible is ceaseless, especially after a very dry ‘rainy’ season.  The desert can be a harsh place for range animals.

On our morning walk, Buster and I encountered the burro in on one of the large undeveloped lots.  He was chewing on some tree leaves, but when he saw us, he hurried in our direction.

“This is one big animal,” Buster whispered under his doggy breath.

Buster alternately went close and pulled back, not quite sure what to think of being so close to the large long legged, tall ears, fuzzy tailed mammal.

The burro is hobbled – his front legs are tied together – and so he can only take tiny steps or hop.  While I understand that this supposedly keeps him from running away – clearly he already has run from wherever he started – it pained me to watch him struggle to walk.  His buddies, the other burro and the three horses plus new pony, could be heard braying and naying  in the distance near the dry arroyo.

When Buster realized that the Burro was not likely to charge him, he stepped closer for a better scent.  I advised that he not stand toooo close to those hind feet, which I know can still wallop a kick.  After a few sniffs at the adjacent ground, and a few ‘good-morning-to-you-burro’ barks, we continued on our early walk.

Day Two 2011

Will I ever tire of the sunrise?

Sometimes I think, “enough.”  But no, I  grab the camera, capture the light.  There is always something different.  Clouds shifted, glassy seas or wind swept, the sky a range of color fields.

In the stillness, the air gathers in on itself and slowly exhales in rhythm with the sea.  It is a song that musicians cannote capture, no matter the longing.

The gathering of seabirds, in search of their first meal.  The flap of wings, the throaty call of the heron, the high pitched whistle of the tern.  The splash of fish, slap of wave, rustle of palm branches.

In the distance, a rooster reminds his brood that it is once again day.  Dogs echo and their woofs and howls call to one another, an ancient language replayed in the debut of another dawn.

Bananas Domingo

Domingo Bananas

Shopping at Yargoza, a small local market with fabulous produce, I picked up a bunch of  the smallest bananas I’d ever seen.

“¿Que son estos?” I asked the young produce girl.

“Domingo,” she responded, and pointed to a tag where the name was listed.

I love trying new things, so .. bananas went into the basket, along with a kiwi, an asian pear and some yogurt .. to be savored for a late lunch.

The bananas are about three inches long, and very sweet. Their skin is extremely thin, but oddly tougher than that of a more common “Chiquita” banana. The flavor is rich; the texture creamy.

My wandering mind wanted to now know more , and a rather circular google search landed me on a bit of banana history, which of course, is fascinating to my hungry mind :

Origin and history

There is a wide variety of historic references to bananas. They are mentioned in ancient Hindu, Chinese, Greek and Roman texts. It is believed that the earliest written reference to banana is in Sankrist and dates back to around 500 BC. Bananas are suspected to be the first fruit in the earth by some horticulturists.

The origin of bananas is placed in Southeast Asia, in the jungles of Malaysia, Indonesia or Philippines, where so many varieties of wild bananas still grow at present. Bananas have later travelled with human population. The first Europeans to know about bananas were the armies of Alexander the Great, while they were campaigning in India in 327 BC. In the Middle Ages, the banana was thought to be the forbidden fruit of paradise by both Moslems and Christians. The Arabs brought them to Africa. Africans are credited to have given the present name, since the word banana would be derived from the Arab finger. The Portuguese brought them to the Canary Islands. Bananas changed during all these trips, gradually losing its seeds, filling out with flesh and diversifying.

When Spaniards and Portuguese explorers went to the New World, the banana travelled with them. In 1516, when Fiar Tomas de Berlanga sailed to Santo Domingo, he brought banana roots with him. From there, bananas spread to the Caribbean and Latin American countries.

Bananas started to be traded internationally by the end of XIX century. Before that date, Europeans and North Americans could not enjoy them because of the lack of appropriate transport for bananas. The development of railroads and technological advances in regrigerated maritime tranport allowed for bananas to become the most important world traded fruit.