Sundays by the Sea … Shore bird chatter presses landward, layered against the backdrop of whirring hummingbird wings and the staccato call of the flashy yellow oriole. A few walkers. A few dogs. Temperatures in the low 70s. The color of sunlight plays amidst the palm fronds and the pink and red garden flowers. Yes … morning … Grateful I am to inhale your intoxicating air.
I am a storm watcher/lover .. but this one, Odile, may be hard to love. While I’ve been stateside for the duration, my heart and energies have been focused on Baja – the long skinny peninsula that is my second home.
Odile – as you can see from the graphic – drove straight up the spine of Baja and has been called ‘the most powerful hurricane to ever hit Baja’. Her track was unusual – the bulk of her interaction with land was on top of land, not at sea. She maintained hurricane status for the bulk of her journey. The desert cannot absorb rain when it comes too hard and too fast, and rushes down canyons and flashes out arroyos to the sea. And then there was the wind …
Power is out. Phones are down. The early photographs of Cabo show horrible damages – and to a city that has a very substantial infrastructure and in new construction, modern building codes. The rest of the Baja – maybe not so.
It’s horrible not knowing what happened to my neighbors and the town. One video shot from the top of the Mission Hotel shows waves breaking on to of the malecon. I can only imagine that the streetfront businesses had minor to major flooding.
A brief cell phone call late yesterday afternoon from my next door neighbor – how it got through I have no idea – said that her house was totally flooded from the horizontal rain – that she’d gone through all the towels – wrung them out – and the water was still coming in. Her fans had been ripped off – and then she had to go. No power to recharge her one lifeline to the outside world.
Loreto was hard hit – that’s obvious from the storm track and early reports before power was cut. But Loreto, too, has a decent infrastructure – and some of the most resilient people I have ever known. All of Baja for that matter. Shovels, mops, bulldozers will be hard at work before the rain drizzles have stopped.
The most pressing issue will be the roads and flash flooding that Odile has likely caused. Mex One is the lifeblood of the peninsula and trucking of supplies has the one route north and south. Unlike the states, when the roads was out, everyone that is able jumps into help. Tractors tow semi-trucks through washing and mud-laden arroyos. Boulders get moved off the road. New paths are created around obstacles. There is no shutting down the highway for months while surveyors decide what to do and budgets have to be settled and contracts awarded. Nope. Just get on with getting on and move people and goods. Detailed repairs will happen later.
This morning, all prayers to those who lost homes, autos – whatever Odile threw at them. And hopes that hands together, a speedy recovery can be made.
And then .. there is the next storm. Really? Polo? Please please head west …….
How can I ever forget the beauty of Loreto? After a four week sojourn, I sit again, next to the sea and her fragrance hypnotises me. Gentle breezes caress the surface and small wavelets kiss the shoreline, turning beach stones over and over as if in a dance.
A blue monarch butterfly, and then a gold, flit among the flowers and the fat limes ripening on the trees that have exploded with growth. A hummingbird whizzes past my face toward the ruby colored stamens in the planter.
Recent rains have turned the dry lanky peninsula into a carpet of green, so verdant that from the sky, one could be fooled into thinking this was an oversized island of the Hawaiian chain. The sand in my yard has become a palm nursery. Hundreds of sprouted seedlings reach their first and second leaves toward the sunlight.
All it takes is water to change everything in the desert.
It’s hot. Spring has flashed to summer with the turn of a switch.
Dawn comes with still seas and air that carries the heavy scent of salted water.
From my writing perch, I watch orioles dash palm to palm, nipping at dried fronds for nesting materials. Small hummingbirds lap at red flowers, doves coo from the neighbor’s rooftop, and house wrens flitter between plantings and small trees.
A wondrous way to wake ….
Beach walkers – with and without dogs, ply the beach. A few youngsters hurry past on their morning run. Buster begs me to stop writing and take him on an adventure.
In the distance, the tinkle of the bottled water delivery man’s truck. It reminds me of the bells on the ice cream man’s truck when I was a small child in Long Beach, CA.
Behind the sweet tinkle is the loudspeaker of the day’s political broadcastings. A sedan of undetermined color circles the hood, a speaker mounted to the roof of his car, with a taped recording blaring into the otherwise quiet space. While my Spanish isn’t perfect, there is something about the tinniness and the volume of the speaker that renders the advertisement unintelligible. I grasp it’s for one or other of the candidates vying for votes in this year’s election.
Quiet already disturbed, trucks laden with soil to fill a neighborhood lot arrive, followed by a large bulldozer that begins to spread the earth.
Time for another cup of coffee – and put the day in order.
(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.
Good friends Cynthia & Cal have reason to be stateside for the summer, and are offering their wonderful San Juanico home for rent. It’s a fabulous 2 bedroom main house with rooftop view deck and bar – perfect for entertaining. There is a separate casita with private bath and lovely gardens. Lucky the person who gets to spend time there. For more details : http://www.scorpionbayrentals.com/Site/Rentals/Pages/Casa_Baja_Luna.html#grid
the call of dove, the dart and dash of orioles in the palms, a flotilla of small grebes ..
sea like a mirror – so still – and the gentle roll of water on beach stones ..
high cirrus clouds striate the blue and an odd fog bank floats between the beach and the island ..
shimmering yellow green palm fronds in the early light .. radiant red flowers on hummingbird bush ..
somewhere, children hunt colored eggs and play with soft rabbits .. somewhere, church goers bow their heads .. to a portion of the world, this is Easter ……. el Pascua ….
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.
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.