New Dog on the Beach

Loki in Loreto, heading north.

Dogs seem as much a fabric of Baja life as the sand and the sea.

When I first purchased a home in Loreto, I was surprised that it ‘came’ with two dogs, Negrita, a black short legged German shepard mix, and Medici, a tall typical Mexican kind of gal. I had never had dogs. That was my sister’s gig. I was a cat person, a long story about dogs not liking me, but no matter, the dogs had been left behind by their owner, and stared at me expectantly.

I did exactly what any new home owner would do: moved them outside, along with their sandy paws, dusty dog hairs and food bowl.

That lasted? Well, not too long before I realized that I had bought ‘their’ house, and simply opened the door to the house, my heart, and all the dog-love they were ready to share.

Over the years, more dogs were added to the pack, as puppies and strays were tossed into the ‘gringo’ neighborhood. At one point, seven pups in various sizes, shapes, colors and attitudes wandered my property and the beach front. Yes, they guarded the property, and yes, they all became my best friends.

The last two who joined the pack were some kind of poodle mix, a blonde and a grey, who surprised us by delivering five puppies. “NO MORE DOGS!” rang out my war cry, and I quickly had them placed two with locals and found homes for three of them in the states.

But there was this one pup, the one male, the brown faced puppy who from the first began ‘mind-melding’ me with a kind of Doctor Spock energy. “I am your dog,” I kept hearing. “You are my person.” The seven other dogs could have cared less. They were fed daily, had a beach to run and a house to protect. But the puppy? He wiggled his way into my heart, and because he was little and could not fend for himself, became bi-coastal and somewhat bi-lingual. Buster gained residency in the USA, but kept his roots in Loreto, Baja California Sur.

Sweet Buster, aka Bubby, Buster Brown, Sugar Pop, etc., owned my heart for the next 13.10 years. He was my constant companion, a certified ESA traveler, and when he left me in February, 2021, my heart was in pieces.

Over the years, the other dogs had passed, and I said to no more to dogs. The heartbreak so deep, so emotionally disabling. And then there was this dream.

This might sound airy-fairy, but the dream was so real as to sit me straight up in bed. It was Buster, telling me that i had to get another dog. That he could not see me so sad, and he knew I was against, it, but he had found the next dog. Here he is, he said in the dream (in dog language of course), and showed me exactly the dog i was supposed to find. I searched shelters as far east as Arizona and far north as Oregon, and none of the pictures matched the image in the dream.

Finally, I did a google image search, and found the dog – in Australia! Which of course, due to COVID, was in lockdown and not shipping puppies. They suggested I try a breeder in Colorado, and in June, 2021, Loki the Lokster was born. He came home in September, and quickly became a challenge, a joy, a giggle, a smile and filled up that heart. He’s not Buster in temperament or in size – YIKES he got big!

But the Australian Cobberdog has come to roost, in both his Laguna home and his digs in Loreto.

Life is just better with dog :-).

Yep .. Better with Dog!

Albatross Flight

Albatross in Flight

Albatross born on Mexican island is milestone in conservation project

21 albatross eggs were flown 6,000 kilometers to make a new home

Published on Thursday, July 1, 2021 / Mexican Daily News

An albatross has taken flight on Guadalupe Island, 241 kilometers off the west coast of Baja California, confirming the success of an audacious biological conservation project between the United States and Mexico.

The project led by Mexican nonprofit Island Ecology and Conservation Group (GECI) and U.S. nonprofit Pacific Rim Conservation aims to find a new habitat where the albatross can be safe from the rising sea levels that threaten their survival.

About 95% of the world’s black-footed albatrosses (Phoebastria nigripes) are found on the Hawaiian islands in the north Pacific Ocean. The 3-kilogram seabirds, which nest on low-lying sandy beaches, are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and flooding: on one island a two-meter sea level rise over the next century would flood up to 91% of nests.

However, Guadalupe Island offers nesting sites on higher ground. It is also familiar territory for the high flyers who were previous residents to the island, which has become a fitting home again after conservationists have worked over the last 20 years to eradicate invasive species.

The first ascent of Snowflake — the bird that took flight on June 16 — was the culmination of a long journey: in January the young albatross was one of 21 eggs flown 6,000 kilometers on a commercial airline from Midway Atoll island. They stopped in Honolulu, Hawaii, before being transferred to San Diego, California, then to Tijuana, Baja California, before finally reaching Guadalupe Island.

In February, 18 eggs hatched on Guadalupe thanks to years of planning, dozens of permits from both countries and half a million dollars in funding from several nongovernmental organizations, not to mention the extra hurdles negotiated through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Julio Hernández Montoya, a conservation biologist at GECI, said the project was spurred on by a sense of urgency: in Hawaii the birds “were destined to drown,” he said.

“[The effort] was quite a feat … It fills us with astonishment and joy,” he added.

Eric VanderWerf, a bird biologist at Pacific Rim Conservation, admitted the plan was a bold one. “The idea [of transporting the birds across the Pacific] was a little bit wild … Doing all that in the midst of the pandemic … I still can’t believe we did it,” he said.

Despite being transferred from a tropical environment to a dry one, the birds are faring fine: “The albatross don’t care … They can do fine in either one,” VanderWerf added.

The team plans to bring 80 more black-footed albatross eggs to Guadalupe Island over the next few years.

With reports from Science Mag

https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/albatross-born-on-mexican-island-is-milestone-in-conservation-project/

Imagine

Imagine waking to the gentle slapping of sea water on cobble and sand. Hearing the chatter of terns overhead as they search for fish. Watching a flotilla of pelicans glide inches from the surface of the sea.

Imagine, your days transport for fishing or island hopping, a pangero, pulling up on the sand in front of your Casita.

More of the magical ways to begin a day in Loreto.

Click below for selfish self-promotion 🙂

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/16338244

Season of the Heart

Eye of Baby Grey Whale in San Ignacio Lagoon

“What great, intelligent eyes stared back into his; was it pure imagination, or did an almost human sense of fun also lurk in their depths?

Why were these graceful sea-beasts so fond of man, to whom they owed so little. It made one feel that the human race was worth something after all, it it could inspire such unselfish devotion.”

– Arthur C clarke, the deep range

From the icy waters of the Arctic, grey whales journey 12,000 miles every year to the warm waters of Baja lagoons. Here, they calve their young and begin their training for the long return to the north. The ‘guesstimate’ of their species age and the duration of this journey is 30 million years.

To bear witness to these majestic gentle giants is a heart-altering experience. To experience a mother whale cajole her calf to be touched, is a testament, not to humans, but to the whales themselves. To an emotion we may never fully understand. They reach out for us, even as in the 1700s and 1800s had hunted them near to extinction.

I’ve had the great good fortune to visit the whales during multiple phases of their time in the lagoon, and shared the luxury of touching whales with family and friends. Each month offers a different and unique experience in whale behavior.

Late December and early January, the calves are born and their milky ‘faces’ trail alongside their mother’s protective bodies. February, the romp begins. The calves gain strength, swim faster and are guided to the whale watching boats to make that human connection. Spy-hopping males begin to show off and mating games begin. March, stronger and larger, the mom teaches them to skim the mudflats for plankton and krill. Single males and females without calves being to depart. Early April, with the calves now trained to swim harder and faster against the incoming and outgoing tides, departures being in earnest. By May, the lagoons are once again in quiet wait for the next grey whale season.

If you can make the time, the experience of touching a whale is one that you will never forget. As for guides and accommodations, my absolute favorite is Baja Ecotours, https://www.bajaecotours.com/

I dreamt I was a fish

I dreamt I was a fish.

Not just any fish, but a fish on a coral reef, swimming with my brightly colored friends. Together we made up a palette of blue, lavender, yellow, gold, orange, pink, green and silver scales, fins, tails and mouths. Our motions fluid. Our community hierarchy long established. Big fish eat little fish. Great white sharks down to the tiniest plankton and krill. Fastest fish wins the chase. Hiding places and ability to change color can save a life.

But something was different.

Something in the water.

Or lack of – on the water.

There were no nets to tangle or strangle us, or our warm-blooded mammal friends, the dolphins and sea lions. There were no hooks dangling from lines with bait. My friend once nibbled, and was gone, whipped to the surface, never to return. A different kind of predator.

Something was happening on the water.

No pleasure boats.

No tankers. No cruise lines.

I could see the blue sky and shimmering ripples of sunlight. No gooey oil sheen spewed from motors.  No sinking puddles of dark black goo settling on the sea floor. No man-made gunk. No cast-off plastic bottles, paper plates, napkins, party balloons, straws, or discarded food. The sea was like a mirror on windless days. At night, I could see the stars, and the flickering light of the moon fingered across the reef and the sandy bottom. My friends and I frolicked and multiplied. We rolled with the tides and spun with the currents.

For a few months in 2020, in the time of COVID, the humans left us alone.

I dreamt I was a fish… and the ocean was amazing.

Baja in the time of Covid

It’s true for all of us – worldwide – global. Life as we knew it changed with rise of an invisible, silent, and killer virus transmitted between humans by vaporous breath.

Baja did not go unscathed, but at the time of this writing, my sweet “Pueblo Magico” of Loreto, has survived with zero cases. The population has maintained its physical health through many of the same strategies practiced in other parts of the world: social distancing, mask wearing, and for those entering town, temperature taking and confirmation of residency. A cadre of devoted volunteers insured that the local hospital was fully supplied with masks and PPEs, should the need for treatment arise.

Airlines stopped carrying passengers in and out of Loreto in April, but now, come June, weekly flights are again scheduled. Alaska Airlines has added Saturday only flights, and those are carefully booked to provide distancing between passengers. It is my understanding that masks must be worn from check-in to disembarkation. Seems smart to me.

Loreto, like the bulk of cities and towns in Mexico that depend on tourism, has been badly hurt economically. Food drives developed through grants and donations provided both locally, and under the aegis of the International Community Foundation, have assisted with keeping food in the mouths of the most affected and needy. Eco-Alianza de Loreto, through the overwhelming support of their donors, initiated a voucher program, that will continue to provide much needed assistance throughout the summer.

June in Loreto. Restaurants slowly begin to offer more than take-out service, and shops other than grocers open their doors, while everyone looks toward a change in the season.

Sultry morning hunter ……..

Hot and sultry – those are the marks of summer on the Sea of Cortez, the fishing shifts to those species that like warmer water: yellowtail, dorado, marlin, wahoo. Seabirds move more slowly. Life is steady and calm. Easy days on the hammock for reading material consumption. Cold beverages in the afternoon.

Slowly, we inch toward our new normalcy.

Hopefully, we will remember some of the insights gained by being forced to stay still. Hopefully, we have expanded our ability to hold open our hearts, increase our empathy and personal understanding of both our frailty and our strength. Hopefully, we are ever more aware of our shared humanity.

See you soon on the beach ….

Chilly Scenes of Winter

Sunrise

Chilly Scenes of Winter

 

While most thoughts of Mexico in the winter are of sunshine filled days lazing or frolicking on the beach, there are still those that sneak in – like this morning – cloud filled and gorgeous – and yes, chilly.

The beach walkers bundled up in sweatshirts and even down jackets. Ugg boots, or at least fat socks and tennis shoes, instead of flops and beach shorts. Their pace is a little quicker to fend off the cold.

Winter in Baja.

A place where pelicans, boobies and arctic terns dive for bait fish in the shallow waters close to shore. Where egrets and herons patiently hunt on the shoreline or in the estuaries, side by side with sandpipers, godwits and occasional killdeer. Where offshore, orcas, fin whales, dolphin, and dancing mobula entertain guests and locals, while we wait for the arrival of the blue whales.

A place and time for contemplation. The hunkering down that winter begs of the body and the mind. A hibernation of such, so that when spring unleashes her torrent of renewed growth, we are fresh from rest and ready to press forward again.