Mex 3 – Road Construction a’la Baja

Traveling the highways of Baja are – well – different than driving stateside.  When a huge rock slide close off a section of Mex 1 – the main north/south artery that connects Tijuana with Cabo San Lucas, the locals got to work.  In the USA, next steps would be emergency vehicles, flashing red lights, and weeks of no passage.  In Baja, next steps are a couple of guys with pickup trucks and ropes who move the offending obstructions out of the way, followed by maybe a friend with a bulldozer pushing some of the dirt aside.  I.e., roads are the lifeline .. and the residents don’t wait for the government to fix things.

Mex 3 – a southern route from San Felipe along the western edge of the Sea of Cortez has long been an out-of-the-way route that that terminated at Mex 1 near Lake Chapala. Mostly rugged washboard miles with an occasional paved section that washed out during hurricanes, the road was merciless on tires, suspensions, and overall mechanics of vehicles.

During the last two decades, small fishing villages have given way to retirement homes for gringos from the states, and the road has become more popular.  Gonzaga Bay, originally a landing strip with fly-in homes, now sports an upgraded hotel and multiple restaurants.

In their continuing effort to enhance access to all parts Baja, the government has set about ambitious road development projects, and Mex 3 is one of them.  The included photographs illustrate the scope of this project, the fact that a little dirt never hurt an intrepid Baja traveler, and the vast beauty of the landscape.

Just as Mex 1 was a dream before it opened in 1972, Mex 3 will provide an alternative to the crowded western route.

Crescent Moon ….

Sultry summer nights.

Palms against the Evening Sky

Palms against the Evening Sky

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 …..

We Begin Again – Welcome 2015

We Begin Again

We Begin Again

With open arms, open hearts and (hopefully) open minds, we begin again. The calendar shifts, we turn the page, and leave the successes and wreckages of the past year behind us.

In the New Year – hopes awaken, dreams rekindle, and we give ourselves the opportunity to peer into the future with fresh eyes. Slate clean. Begin again.

What dreams and hopes do you have for 2015? What challenges are you willing to embrace?

Stormy December The year began for me, south of the American border with rain and dark clouds – unusual for Loreto, BCS, Mexico. Today, the second day, blustery winds whip the seas into a froth of whitecaps. Butterflies tangle in the winds and birds make fast for secure branches. Like my life at times, holding on tight with an illusion of security, or letting go .. flying freely .. letting change be the watchword.

For me, this year, my intention is to let go of all things that keep me small ..
And to embrace and celebrate my personal authenticity …

Welcome 2015.

Season of Clouds

Sky on Fire

Humid & hot.

The weighted sky water of summer. A thousand wardrobe changes in the day (and that’s just the sky!).

Color palettes shift from frothy white to angry greys with blasts of orange and red and gold sprinkled between.

The wind carries them from the north east, from the south .. back around again from the west. It shapes them— along with temperature, pressure, underlying terrain — into ragged forms, soft cumulous curls, a streaking line of stratus.   Thunderheads build .. threaten .. and then simply drift away …

The season of clouds. The heart of summer in Baja.

Gardens in the Desert

“The Desert Dreams of Water” is the name of a series of photographs I took in different desert locations.  My experience of the dried earth in sparsely vegetated areas of the desert is that the dream of water is never more than a breath away.  During and after a rain storm, the earth opens up in a plethora of scents and colors and growth that is staggering.  All dormancy slides away with water born from the heavens.

In Baja, those oasis that dot the peninsula do so because of the existence of water – precious water that is never to be wasted or taken for granted.  The palm groves an inland rivers of San Ignacio and Mulege are prime examples of nature’s gardens.  The town of Loreto, tucked off the main highway for decades, shimmers with shades of green when approached by the sea.

Vegetation provides shelter from the heat, protects the soil from erosion, provides an oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange, as well as shelter and habitat for bird life.

In San Quintin, a Pacific coast fishing village south of Ensenada, a small hotel and restaurant complex can be found about 1/2 mile off the highway. “El Jardin” sits in the midst of its own oasis of palms, cactus, flowering shrubs and a small orange grove.  The motel is delightful – only a couple of years old, and the quiet is exquisite.  Rooms have ample windows for garden viewing, and the garden itself is filled with benches and tables for contemplation and relaxation.

It’s an amazing place to stopover, spend some time and recharge during the drive north or south, or even a spot for launching an all day fishing jaunt on one of the local pangas.

Baja Haha

15th Annual Baja Haha .. San Diego to Cabo San Lucas .. 150 boats .. a great and fun way for families/pirates and just salty hands to get in some sail time and find their way south.

I ‘hitchhiked’ – put my name as potential crew on Latitude 38s website .. and got a nice ride on Luna Sea .. a boat owned by Dave Boyles.  Dave Hohman, Don Johnson, Katie & Matt rounded out the crew.  Luna Sea is a Hardin Force 50 .. Built like a Formasa clipper with 2 masts and a full outfit of sails.

We started out in light winds .. which eventually crashed down to no winds.. Landed a tuna – 3 in fact the first afernoon.  Sushi was abundant .. the only worry : would we have enough wasabi?

After two days of party in Bahia Tortuga, the fleet took off again .. this time with winds!  Too fast to catch fish, but fun fun sailing.  Past cruise ships and tankers in the dark of night .. and down to Santa Maria, for another two days of party, surfing, mountain climbing, beach walking and swimming.

Finally — south to Cabo .. and an end to a wonderful journey and experience.

Lunch with the Governor!

Lunch with the Governor!

Had lunch with the Governor two days ago.  Not Schwarzenegger, although he’s on my list, but Narcisco Agündez Montaño, the Governor of Baja California Sur.

Narciso Agündez MontañoI’d love to report that I was able to press with him about issues of environmental protections and educational reform, but he was heavily involved with local politicos who had their own agenda.  At least I was seated at a table next across from him, as is shown in the attached photograph (he is the man seated on the left in the blue shirt).

Narcisco Agündez had come to Loreto to bless several public works projects, survey the damage from Tropical Storm Julio, and work politics.  He is a member of PRD, as is the current Mayor of Loreto, Yuan Yee.

The lunch was well attended by nearly every city official.  A band played several musical pieces and locally caught dorado with salsa and slaw satsified the tastes of everyone.

As I’ve said before, themost amaizng things keep happening in Baja.

Wild Trip to San Juanico and Beyond ..

ROAD TRIP~  with stove, parties, friends & whales.

And I mean – road trip!  Left Laguna mid-morning with overnight in Guerro Negro. Great dinner – as always – at the  Malarrimo Restaurant.  Got up before the sunrise and headed east.  Watched the sun slip over the lip of the Sierra as we dropped down the grade toward Santa Rosalia.

With great luck and no traffic, we pulled into Loreto around 11 AM.  Got the truck unloaded, and on call – Carol’s connection – Richon – arrived to look at the stove and what I need for installation.  No one believed I could get a stove installed in one day.  This IS Mexico. But I was driven and committed.

Val Wilekrson

Val Wilkerson

Barry and Val came by to chat – and stayed 🙂  That’s how it works in Loreto.  Richon brought Juan.  Alexander came over.   Jeanne stopped by and brought her girlfriend, who was fresh from fishing with Chris & the boys.

Steve was deep into rum & cokes until he realized that all the orifices on the stove needed to be converted from natural gas to propane.  Sobered him up (grumpily) fast .. and the job was done.

In the meantime, Jeanne kept saying she wanted to go to sleep and have tomato soup .. but now Steve was grousing about dinner.

Carol & Lee Boyd at Meditarraneo

Carol & Lee Boyd at Meditarraneo

We were supposed to eat at Mediterraneo, Carol & Lee’s excellent restaurant on the Malecón, but now it’s after 8…. and cranky is a good word to throw out. .. So.. with grand and gracious spirit, Jeanne opened her freezer, found ground turkey and a meat loaf was created.

There were potatoes at the house from Boots & his wife Arianna who had been staying while they searched for a place to live.  We mixed russet and sweet for mashed, crafted a salad of cucumbers and tomatoes.. and celebrated a feast.  Alexander had gifted Jeanne a bottle of tequila for her birthday, and this was the time to enjoy.

Wild night and tired, Steve and I crashed down.  Woke early for sunrise and a morning of client work – while we had DSL internet connections.

Catharine Cooper, Dennis Choate, Steve Kawaratani, Bill Clute

Catharine, Dennis, Steve, & Bill

We made an overnight stop in San Juanico where we partied – is there a theme song here? – with old friends and new. We were the guests of Dennis Choate and Donn Stein in their hacienda complex. Donn lent his palapa for the night .. sheets were hastily changed and the party began.

Dennis had good friends, Bill and his daughter, Cathy, staying in his guest house.   Once upon a time, Dennis and Bill had been arch sailing rivals, but now, spinnakers aside, they are best friends.  Dennis builds boats – Transpac and more – at his shop in Long Beach – Dencho Marine.

It might have been the case of wine we brought down for the boys, or maybe it was the fabulous food of the local chefs, but the evening was one of great revelry and memories were created out of deep laughter.

Sailboat racers, surfers, bikers ….. and thank god for the morning after – coffee drinkers.  Bill – you are forever my hero for the espresso!

We all drank too much, ate too much, and laughed harder than we imagined possible.  Dueling iPods provided music and Bill, CC & Steve traded iPhone tricks and info.  I woke up next to my vitamins .. Cathy in her clothes.  Too much fun …………..

Quick check of the surf, not much happeing, and Steve and I jumped back in the Hummer for the drive north along the salt flats to San Ignacio Lagoon.