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.
Yes .. The swell showed up .. and yes .. i held my place among the men .. and yes .. i caught set waves .. and yes .. i got respect from the men on the cliff face .. and yes .. i am fully alive and free on the face of a wave …………….. yes .. wondrous days …… wondrous ……….
Sultry summer nights.
To the east, the mainland sends up a show of lightning. Bursts of reddish colors paint the undersides of thick storm clouds. Loreto is humid, but no rain or thunder for the moment.
The repaired lighthouse in the marina casts a welcoming green white light as the top spins in its glass housing, guiding mariners safely home.
Overhead, starts punctuate the space between the clouds. The low level of city or neighborhood lights provides enough dark sky to enjoy a palette of twinkling white. Distant suns and planets. The extension of our our small earth-based universe.
Suddenly, a larger break in the clouds, now backlit with white. A tiny crescent moon, bathed in shades of orange, casts a shimmering pathway across the surface of the Sea. It appears as if I could almost walk to Isla Carmen on a carpet of watery light.
Yes, sultry summer nights on the Sea of Cortez, as we step toward fall …..
Buster (the Bajanese) loves to SUP with me, and our morning paddles are a great solace for both of us. Paddling up the coast we have been gifted with turtles, dancing rays, leaping fish, skimming pelicans, diving terns & osprey. The light on the water some mornings, a reason to pause in honor of the stunning beauty of the Sea of Cortez nestled against the small city of Loreto.
Yesterday, Buster was in rare form. He stood tirelessly on the ‘bow’ of my SUP board searching for anything that moved. When we both spied the small fish (already in it’s last gasp) he was unstoppable. He lept off the board and could not be cajoled back. Each time he reached to catch it in his mouth, the fish would swivel and turn – both spooking him and enticing him on. But he was close. Oh so close ….
This was ‘his’ fish, and I was not to spoil the moment. I tried paddling away. He didn’t seem to care. I yelled at him to get back on the board (we did have a flight to catch). Finally, I had to yank his sweet wet hairy body from the water and keep his head turned away from the fish.
Yes, we left the fish in our wake. And yes, the little hunter had his day. And yes, we made our flight, sadly leaving Loreto – so we could once again return.
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.
The thing about hurricanes is that you wait. You wait. And you watch. And you wait.
You watch the forecasts. You follow the track. You read winds and rainfall predictions. And you wait.
Increasingly accurate science guides minute by minute revised assessments. Aircraft fly into the heart of the storm, measure the winds, the barometric pressure … Weather crew assess surrounding patterns – how point of high and low pressure will affect the movement of the storm.
And you wait. A sunny morning grows cloudy. Then clears. Then darkens again. The rises. Then falls. You watch the tides. Time landfall land with wind speed predictions.
This time, this early .. Hurricane Blanca ‘appears’ to bear wind and rain, and will approach land as tropical storm, her energy spent as she enters cooler waters. A glancing blow. A prayer or two.
And you wait ….
the sky the color of the sea
blue footed boobies make like diving jets
silvery fish dance and skate on the water’s edge
yellowtail and small dorado race from shallow to shallow
stingrays ruffle the sand
puffer fish skitter across the sandy bar
shimmering cerulean sardines leap en masse
pelican wings glide millimeters from the water
cormorants beaks glow golden against black feathers
my paddle eases my board quietly toward the light
no real destination but exactly where i am ….
On Monday, March 30, 2015, President Jorge Alberto Avilés Pérez of Loreto, Baja California Sur, received the “Keys to the City” of Ventura, California from Mayor Cheryl Heitmann, confirming the Sister City relationship between the two municipalities. The formal ceremony, which took place in the historic Ventura City Hall, included the reading of a proclamation, declaring the relationship between The City of San Buenaventura, California and The City of Loreto, Baja California Sur, “To encourage bi-national promotion of conservation, education, social entrepreneurship and cultural exchange between its citizens and governments in support of the Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto and Channel Islands Sister Park Project.”
President Avilés thanked the people of the City of Ventura for the distinction of Sisterhood with the City of Loreto. In a short speech, President Avilés remarked that, “Ventura and Loreto are two cities that have in common historical and geographical perspective and the mutual desire to develop appropriate strategies to support conservation and restoration of biodiversity in the respective territories and to continue to work for the mutual good of our sister cities.”
This solidified relationship provides the opportunity, “to work in coordination with the institutions concerned to protect and conserve our environment,” continued Sr. Avilés. The Sister City connection furthers a move toward confirmation of Sister Park/Sister Reserve between the Channel Islands National Park and The Bay of Loreto National Park.
Eco-Alianza de Loreto, A.C. spearheaded the possibilities of the Park inter-relationship, as well as Sister City status, and has served both as facilitator and coordinator of the programs in a close working relationship with the Channel Islands National Park and the City of Ventura. When completed, the Sister Park/Reserve relationship will provide for the exchange of best-science practices, park resource management and enhanced Sister City economies associated with eco-tourism programs including unique cultural exchanges.
President Avilés was accompanied by his wife Mrs. Nancy Saldaña Cuevas, Tony and Linda Kinninger co-founders with Hugo Quintero Maldonado of Eco-Alianza, Marla Daily and Kirk Connally, of Santa Cruz Island Foundation and Terra Marine Research & Education, Inc., and Norma Garcia, the representative of the Loreto Sister Cities committee and a member of the Board of Directors of Eco-Alianza.
The day after the ceremonies, Mayor Heitmann and the contingency from Loreto enjoyed a boat tour to Santa Cruz Island, hosted by Island Packers, where they routed the University of California Research Field Station facilities with an inland Jeep tour. Following lunch, the group boarded a small plane for an aerial tour of the Channel Islands and a flight back to the Camarillo airport. That following evening, the Sister Cities committees met at City Hall to begin planning first steps. Mayor Heitmann lead the meeting with introductions, short presentations and a Q & A for all those attending.
Eco-Alianza would like to thank all those involved for making this first step both a success and a reality. Special thanks goes to Russell Galipeau, Superintendent of the Channel islands National Park, Kate Faulkner, Chief, Natural Resources Management, CINP, Yvonne Menard, Chief of Interpretation, CINP, and most especially to Mayor Cheryl Heitmann for organizing this first meeting of the Sister Cities and for making the Loreto delegation feel so welcome in their beautiful city. We look forward with great anticipation to the benefits of the Sister City relationship that is key to both the proposed Channel Islands National Park and Parque Nacional de Loreto Sister Park status.