Celebrating and Funding Environmental Education

It would be brilliant if environmental intelligence simply rose in the minds of all humans, but that isn’t the case. It takes dedicated and committed individuals to expand educational programs that can be absorbed by a broad swath of the population. And it takes funding … of select programs, of staff, of equipment … to facilitate change.

Eco_A_Fundraiser_Ingles_half_invite_2013Eco-Alianza of Loreto celebrates its 6th Anniversary this week – 6 years of dedication to protecting Loreto’s natural environment. To commemorate the occasion, the organization is hosting a fundraiser – a night of cocktails, dinner created by La Mision’s Master Chef, live and silent auctions, a raffle, and dancing – at the Hotel Mision in Loreto, Saturday, the 9th of November, starting at 5:30pm.

The funds raised by this event benefit the Environmental Education Programs for Loreto youth. The evening is made possible by the generous donation of Scott Serven, owner of La Mision, and is the second annual event.

Tickets are on sale for $27.00 and may be ordered online at Eco-Alianza’s website — http://www.ecoalianzaloreto.org – or with Edna Peralta at Eco-Alianza’s headquarters, the Community Center for the Environment on Miguel Hidalgo in downtown Loreto. This will be a great and fun event, and benefit not only the youth, but the entire community of Loreto.

Baja Savories

My friend Cynthia Wagstaff, who lives in San Juanico, BCS, is an amazingly creative chef. She knows exactly how to mix unusual things together that add to their individual and collective flavors. She sent me this recipe today, and with her permission, I’m sharing. One of the ingredients, Chef Jimmys Mojo Verde (he’s a great surfer and equally great friend) can be sourced on his website : www.chefjimmy.com.

Orange Mojo Salad

Orange Mojo Salad

Ensalada del Sol
Muddle a tsp of Chef Jimmys Mojo Verde in olive oil with a garlic clove, a tiny bit of serrano, cilantro, and sea salt.

Pour over orange slices with chopped olives – any type.  Add jicama slivers, avocado, and red onion slices.

Serve on red leaf or arugula – even shredded kale.

Makes a great dinner party salad!

beauty where we find it …..

Baja : Pacific Morning

For the uninitiated, there is little that can be said to fully express the beauty of Baja California Sur.  From the moment one leaves the populations of Colonet & San Quintin, makes a requisite gas stop in El Rosario, and heads into the heart of undeveloped land of cardon, bojum, cholla, poloverde, cirrius and more …  the heart slows, the shoulders drop, and the mind begins to embrace again that primal space of undeveloped land.

Mex One zigzags across the peninsula in undulating rhythms, following for the greater part, the easiest passage through rough terrain.  That translates to switchbacks, mountain climbs and descents, and arroyo crossings.  Wide plains, dry lakes and craggy rock piles – the spewn evidence of long-ago volcanoes litter the landscape.  I’ve stopped counting the trips. I never fail to be inspired.  I am always stunned by her beauty.

For those who are afraid to travel, I am sorry.  So much the greater landscape and less crowded roads for me.  While the horrors of the drug cartels are not to be ignored, the city streets of any major metropolitan area has its own body and assault count.  I feel safer in my home in Loreto than I ever did in the states.

The Pacific side teases with waves that follow distant swells.  Spots like the Wall, Shipwrecks, the local spots of Ensenada .. and of course, Pescadero, Todos Santos and Cabo San Lucas beckon surfers from across the globe.

The east coast, the beautiful bountiful Sea of Cortez, is filled with dolphin, sea turtles, fish of every color and size, rays and whales – blue, pilot, fin and orca.  Sunrises, sunsets .. kayaking, paddling, surfing, hiking, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling .. exploring ..  magic.  To be with and surrounded by such beauty is to me – pure magic.
And then there are the people – beautiful kind warm family loving folks.

Food!  Beverages!  Music!  Dancing!  Camping under stars and/or a full moon. Yes : Baja : I love and dream of you always.

… too much time in baja! ….

(coming round again)

You my have spent too much time in Baja if:

You open the refrigerator and are stunned it’s not filled with Coronas.

You can’t drink anything unless it has a slice of lime.

It’s not a meal without salsa fresca and chips.

You greet everyone with “Hola” or “Buenas Dias”.

You keep trying to throw your toilet paper in the wastebasket.

There are too many paved roads in your neighborhood.

You go out to check the pila, but it’s not there.

The electricity stays on for days without an outage.

You suddenly understand your gardener and your maid.

You step outside to swim, and all you find is your lawn.

Your neighbors’ dogs are all on leashes and snarl instead of licking you.

There’s nobody riding in the back of pick-up trucks.

The phone interrupts your siesta hours.

You try to bargain with the butcher.

Your feet no longer fit in hard soled shoes.

You’ve forgotten how to wear a necktie.

You’re surprised to find all your groceries at one store.

You don’t need to make an ice run for the drink cooler.

Shrimp, shrimp, shrimp.  Is there any other food?

One hardware store carries everything.

You think nothing of driving the length Mex 1 in a day.

Your trips are measured by distance between gas stations.

Doritos are a poor substitute for the real thing.

Baja Rummy is actually a game.

A traffic jam means there are three cars stopped in front of you.

Your electric bill comes in the mail, instead of being stuffed in the fence.

You actually have a water meter.

You wake for sunrise because it is breathtakingly beautiful.

Dorado is both a fish and a style of taco shell.

Golf carts are used everywhere except on a course.

You start jonesing for fresh tortillas.

The guy who fixes your electric, also does your plumbing, builds your fence, plants your trees, looks after your house, and feeds your dogs when you are away.

No one has a doorbell and everybody stops by.

A palapa, a panga, and a hammock are three of your favorite places to be.

Your friends ask you when you’re coming home and you wonder if they’re crazy.

beach days are some of the best :-)

Pelican swoops into Isla Coronado Bay

Jeanne had this great idea – “Let’s take the boat over to Coronado for the day.  Picnic.  Swim.”  And so we did.  She barbecued chicken, tossed up a couple of salads, loaded the cooler with beer and a bottle of champagne and invited her friends.  That would include me :-), Norma, Tom, and next door neighbor Bill.  We put the boat in at the Marina in Loreto, Mark drove to the island with calm seas and clear skies.  Magic- a perfect day!

Away too long …

Early Morning Light

I’ve been out of Baja for over a month, and there’s a nagging need to find my way home. Tacos de pescado, arroz con salsa .. possible una cervaza – o dos.

Stateside for work, which is bountiful, and for which I am extremely grateful – but the press of the City takes its toll. Sooo many cars, too much traffic. Everyone is in a wild hurry to get ‘there’ .. and I think, rarely appreciates where they actually ‘are.’

“Things” matter a lot here : clothes, cars, trends, electronics. Without even pondering, I find myself drawn back into the fold. “I need” … a long list manifests. But do I? What do any of us really need to live on? And does any of the stuff with which we overload our lives make us happy?

In Mexico, I ‘lean’ it back, live with less ..spend more time expressing my creative talents to manifest a this or a that.

And then there is the water. Warming and warmer. The color of the sky mixed with turquoise. A salinity in the Sea of Cortez that is higher/different than that in the states. Uncrowded … a morning paddle of many miles surrounded only by the sea, the edge of mountains, the off shore islands and a dolphin or two. The way the water wraps herself around my skin… the way I am able to merge with her beauty.

Yes .. past time to head south again ….

¿Tacos de Que?

20110515-040848.jpgOkay, I admit it – I am totally grossed out!  Tacos de cabeza? Tacos of head? Oh for sure, I am gagging in the corner. I’ve seen two signs in two days – one for de rez and one for de birra .. We are talking cow and goat here. And while I’m sure the taco wrapping of maize or harina doesn’t really encompass a skull, all I can think of are bones and eye sockets … and I am more certain that my non-hoof-eating diet is the right one.

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.

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.