Hurricane Blanca Makes Landfall

Hurricane Blanca’s winds hit Loreto around 3am, easily waking me. Storm anticipation is a sure sleep-wrecker. The electricity went off / then on again. I pulled open the slider and shuddered at the power of the wind and the dark dark night. No stars nor moon could pierce the heavy cloud cover.

I walked out onto the beach – no rain yet, just strong winds and pelting sand. The seas were frothy in the muted light, a virtual blackened plane punctuated with surging waves and white caps. The sound of the wind, it’s force and the darkness, were unsettling. Already, the scent of mud-washed arroyos permeated the air.

At 4am, satellite imagery showed the now diminished hurricane bearing down on Puerto Cortez, the western tip of the peninsula before spreading into Bahia de Ulloa and Bahia San Juancio. The storm made landfall as a tropical storm around 8am Baja Sur time, with increasing winds and falling rain.

Blasting winds, steady at 25-34 mph with gusts clocked at 46 mph, bent trees and shrubs as morning spread her light, have kept birds fluttering for cover, and pelicans struggling to remain afloat in the storm driven seas.

Blanca still churns her energy slight south of Loreto – the lean of the palm  revealing the location of the heart of the storm. Most recent imagery indicates that the bulk of the rain has been deposited, and what remains is a wildly windier afternoon.

This display of nature’s force fuels a celebration in me – as witness the power of wind and sea and storm – while remaining grateful, that from a Category 4 hurricane just 3 days ago, Blanca’s presence here in Loreto has been that of a Tropical Storm.

Mining in Baja California: Is it Worth the Risk?

Two presentations by

Mark Spalding, President, The Ocean Foundation

Mining Concessions in Baja California

Mining Concessions in Baja California

Please join Mark Spalding on Friday, April 10, at 3pm at the indoor restaurant at the Inn at Loreto Bay, or on Saturday, April 11, at 5pm at the Community Center for the Environment (CenCoMA) at Eco-Alianza headquarters for an informative presentation and discussion regarding his ongoing research on the various mining projects throughout Baja California Sur, including Loreto.

Is mining actually good for the economy for more than the short term? Or does it do more harm to long-term sustainability of natural resources (land, water and sea) and the plants, animals and people who depend on them? What does it mean for the tourism sector?
Three major projects are currently in various stages of development:

  1. Loreto/San Basilio: Azure Minerals Limited is an Australian mineral exploration company focused on developing mining projects in the richly mineralized Sierra Madre Occidental mining province in northern Mexico. In 2013, Azure successfully bid for the Loreto Copper Project, which covers 9,571 hectares on the east of the Baja California peninsula, 6 kilometers north of the town of Loreto.
    Todos Santos: Los Cardones is proposed open pit metallic mining project. The EIA for the project predicts that Los Cardones will occupy 543 hectares and will include two massive open pits from which 173 million tons of material will be extracted. 135 million tons of extracted material will be placed in material banks of waste rock and 38 million tons of the contaminated processes material will fill a massive tailings pond. The project will require the construction of a desalination plan on the Pacific coast near as Playitas that will extract 7500 cubic meters of water per day.
  2. Ulloa Bay (between San Carlos and Abreojos): Exploraciones Oceánicas a Mexican subsidiary of Odyssey Marine Exploration (OMEX)is in the permit process for underwater mining for phosphates in Baja’s Pacific coast. Known as the “Don Diego project” Ocenanica has received it’s concession for the Gulf of Ulloa but does not yet have its permits. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for proposed dredging and recovery of phosphate sands from the “Don Diego” deposit has been filed with the Mexican Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) as of Sept. 4th, 2014.

Mark is President of The Ocean Foundation in Washington, D.C., and a Senior Fellow at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Center for the Blue Economy. He is an environmental expert and attorney, tirelessly advocating on behalf of the world’s coasts and ocean. Mark has engaged in numerous environmental challenges in BCS, including last year’s successful challenge to the Cabo Pulmo development, and the successful prevention of a second industrial saltworks at Laguna San Ignacio. Mark also has a particular affinity for Loreto, serving as a member of Eco-Alianza’s advisory board since its founding, and having helped to establish and steer the Loreto Bay Foundation.

There are two separate opportunities to learn more about mining and associated risks in Baja California Sur with Mark Spalding, President of The Ocean Foundation. Come and increase your knowledge about environmental concerns and add your voice to the conversation.

Friday, April 10, 3pm

The Inn at Loreto Bay
Indoor Restaurant
Loreto Bay
Saturday, April 11, 5pm

The Community Center for the Environment
Eco-Alianza Headquarters (CenCoMA)
#3 Miguel Hidalgo esq. Romanita
Col. Centro

When Friends Come to Visit

Cynthia and Cal Wagstaff rolled into Casa de Catalina late Saturday morning.  They’d been making their way down Mex 1 through missing asphalt, torn up roads, water filled arroyos, and detours in the wake of Hurricane Paul.  The drive from Hailey, Idaho is part of their annual re-migration their beautiful casa in San Juanico.  I’d worried about their drive – and was glad to see their smiling faces on arrival.  Chica Bonita and Pancho piled out of the car behind their owners.

Cal wasn’t as convinced that they should stay – he was pretty much about ‘let’s get home,’ but Cynthia prevailed.  We swam, SUPd, laughed, we played with dogs, ate and enjoyed cocktails in the patio.  Love my friends – and all the spontaneity that seems to be what Baja is about.

Hurricane Paul

Hurricane Paul approaches Baja 16 October 2012

Good morning Paul : woke to change in plans – or at least change in track. Paul’s now headed directly to my treasured surf spot – San Juanico – and then across to pay a visit to the east coast. Batten down the hatches, Dorothy. We’re not quite ready to head to Kansas.

Hurricane Paul

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.

The Beauty of the Night Sky

Milky Way © Astronomy Online

One of the numerous gifts of Baja travel is an experience of the vastness of the night sky. Far from the metropolis light-killing kilowatts, the dark blanket of night spreads from horizon to horizon, all a twitter and a twinkle. In the darkness, the other sky – the star-filled night – transforms the heavens into a shimmering display of other-worldliness.

It’s been a long while since I spent much time stargazing. A lifetime of camping has been replaced with lodging in friends casitas and my own Loreto house.

This last week, when staying at my friend Cynthia’s, “Casa Baja Luna” on the Pacific Coast, a rage of sleeplessness found me wandering her back yard, my head cranked upwards, hypnotized by the reach of the Milky Way. I gazed as if I’d never seen it before, struck by the beauty, the immensity.

It felt as if I could reach my hand upward and pull back handfuls of stardust.

I was struck by the memories of lying in that same backyard on an old piece of sail, staring up at the sky, laughing at the wild world of it all ….

Jupiter and her four moons : Io, Europa, Ganymeded, and Calisto © Astronomy Online

Tonight, the moon caught the trails of a bright star – ah, no – a bright planet (bigger and brighter to the visible eye than most stars), and I couldn’t help but stop, grab the binoculars and see which planet had carved the shimmering trail across the glassy seas.

There was the planet, squarely in the lens of the binoculars, bright enough to convince me to find the spotting scope, pull up some ground and sharpen my gaze.  Magic.  Tripod and search.  Find and focus.  Ahhhhhhhh … Jupiter and her four moons.  Jupiter of pale pink striations across her surface.  Jupiter clearly in my glass.

Her four planets were lined in perfect order : Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Calisto.  Like greeting old friends : How had I stayed away so long?  For months I had chased the night sky cross Baja, learning – or attempting to learn- the ‘other map’ – the sky map.  The map as well defined as that of our planet for navigational purposes – I just don’t have quite the vehicle of say, “Startrek,” or “Starwars”  to venture in real body exploration.  My earthbound self has to be satisfied with the images caught by traveling satellites, the high-powered telescopes, and the stunning finds of orbiting Hubble.

Entranced again, I turned the spotting scope skyward and there, behind the blackness of the unassisted eye was that other world again.  The world where star after star fills the void, and there are more pinpoints of light than I could ever count.  “Campfires” the Indians used to call them, as if the Gods had lit lights for them to name and to follow.

That other map is still used by sailors who shun navigation by computer or GPS – and should be known by every sailor – “in case of” – the dreaded technological failure 🙂 When I traveled in both South America and South Africa, one of my vivid memories is of the southern cross – a constellation seen only on the other side of the equator.

What I found tonight was a re-romancing with the night sky.  A re-desiring to know/be able to name/to chart those heavens that come round every night after the sun leaves her brilliance with the rotation of the globe.  I turned from the stars, and there, caught in the corner of a palm, was the crescent moon.  She glowed yellow in the dark sky, but on closer examination, her brilliant white surface, pockmarked from years of encounter with the flotsam and jetsam of the universe, gleamed in the eyepiece of my lens.

A magic night.  A star-laden night.  A remembrance of how infinitesimally small we truthfully are in terms of the universe.

Chef Jimmy Surfs Scorpion Bay

Not only can my good friend Jimmy surf, but he’s one hell of a cook – excuse me – make that chef. Notice the title with his name. For more information on his skill set, and his killer MOJO product line, click here :