Thursday, September 11, 2003

Hola, amigas y amigos!

Hola, amigas y amigos!

I am returned tanned and (somewhat) rested from my sojourn in Baja Sur. Sadly, all my photo ops were captured on analog, not digital, media so I do not as yet have any pics to share with you. I'll try to get them developed, scanned, and uploaded soon (yeah, I keep saying that, don't I? But haven't even figured out how to use the FTP at my new ISP. Doh!)

A few notes from my trip journal

Monday, 9.1.03 Freshly arrived in Mexico, I find myself on a balcony overlooking the Pacific and the Coronado Islands offshore. Although overcast, a lingering effect of the hurricane that never completely materialized south of here, the sun is trying valiantly to shine through, and it feels quite tropical: warm & humid.

Seven pelicans slide by overhead, momentarily pausing as if to consider alighting on our blue roof. Over the surf I hear what at first sounds like a helicopter, but what is in fact only a shiny-green June bug, seemingly half the size of a hummingbird. No sign yet of the dolphin that purportedly frolic daily in the surf below.

The cell of moist air that has been hovering over us has moved offshore and now it appears to be raining over the Coronados. Here on my balcony, the breeze cools my sticky skin deliciously as I watch the sunlight play across the skin of the ocean. I think the sparkle of sun on moving water is my favorite vision.

It doesn't look like our little casa has neighbors on either side, which is just as well; this enhances the sense of solitude I get looking at the deserted beach below. After two full days of driving separated by a day and night spent in Fresno shopping and socializing, all I crave is peace, quiet and beer. This view doesn't hurt either.

The Mexican Spanish phrasebook I picked up before departing is proving immensely entertaining. Happily, it contains a page of colloquialisms, so my knowledge of profanity en Español is expanding. Even some of the 'straight' entries are hilarious:

"Señor, no es lo suficientemente grande." = "Sir, it isn't big enough."

Will I need that on this particular trip? Doubtful. George wouldn't approve ;)

I spot a pair of the aforementioned dolphin swimming languidly by in the lambent light, as if they too are enjoying a leisurely afternoon. Sundown is imminent. Out past the Coronados, the sun shoots orange rays from sky to sea. Here, at the house, sky and sea both have the appearance of slate. It has cooled enough to warrant a change from shorts to pants, but it's still very pleasant. All is well in my world.

Tuesday, 9.2.03
Despite the petty annoyances that come with vacationing with 6 kids, I'm having a ball. I love the sound of the surf, which susurrates endlessly outside. The vibrancy of Mexico excites me -- the colorful houses, the ubiquitous graffiti, the pungent aromas, the music -- a cacophony of sensations that combine to remind me I am alive.

Trooping to the shore and walking slowly with the girls on the beach this morning, I spot some kind of fantastical winged insect on the cobbles bermed up to create a backstop to the shore break. Black legs and abdomen/body, it sports bright orange wings and antennae. Quite large at about 2" long from stem to stern, it is a beautiful creature, although I appeared to be the only one among us to appreciate it.

Wednesday, 9.3.03
Much of today was spent traipsing around Rosarito proper, partaking of the shopping opportunities there. Despite all the wonderful wares offered for sale, all we walk away with is helado, fresh handmade tortillas, and extra bottled water.

Returning home, we swim in the pool near our condo, then drive south once again, this time to Puerto Nuevo for some of it's famed langosta, or lobster. One of the strolling mariachis includes a cantaora, or songstress, and we hire them to play and sing for us while we eat. After stuffing ourselves and enjoying the mellifluous son Guadalajara, we stroll along the mercado, and I practice my rusty Español muy mal while negotiating for trinkets. At the licor store, I buy tequila and Cuban rum to bring home.

Thursday, 9.4.03
We decamp for a long, languid day at the beach, one to the south near 'The Oasis' resort; here we find expansive sandy shores (no more cobble beach), palm-thatched cabañas for shade, and two of the saddest puppies you could ever see. Malnourished and virtually hairless, they lurk at the edges of our little fiesta, begging with their melancholy eyes for scraps.

No one but us on this deserted expanse of beautiful beachfront; I wonder if it is just the season, or the warning of contamination of the water I read about yesterday that keeps the people away. Although the little girls spend all day playing in the surf, I opt to stay with the big girls on the beach with my cerveza y libro.

Good thing I bought more of that delicious Correleo tequila in Rosarito yesterday, as we needed it for the pitchers of margaritas we've been drinking all week. Maria, a local woman who came Wednesday to clean the house and make us a delicious dinner, returned today and prepared us a batch of handmade tamales. Quite a lot of effort, but the result: muy deliciouso!

Friday, 9.5.03
Ensenada! We shopped 'til we dropped today (almost literally) in this town for turistas. Everyone found the regalos they want to bring home for friends, and one or two things for themselves as well. I learn the words for juggle and juggler (juego malabar, malabaristo/a) but cannot locate any related souvenirs. I do find the Dia de los Muertos figurines I'd been searching for, and picked up two serapes as well. During el almuerzo of seasoned lamb and Negra Modelos, a young street vendor came to our table, offering made-to-order necklaces containing the name of your choice written on a grain of rice! My incurably romantic nature kicks in hard, and I buy two matching pendants that read: 'I ♥ you Jorge, Belma' and 'I ♥ you Belma, Jorge' -- terminally cute.

After lunch, more shopping. A young Mexicano is persistant in his attempts to sell me silver jewelry. We strike up a conversation, during which he assumes my friend Kari's son Ryan (16) is mi novio, and asks if we would like to hire him as our tour guide for the evening. When I laugh and explain that no, my boyfriend is back at home, he then asks if I'd like to go out for beers with him instead! But I must decline.

Exhausted, we head back to our autos, stopping on the way for a Koday moment at Plaza Cívica. There, we pose in front of 12-foot copper busts of Mexican presidents past Juárez, Hidalgo and Carranza, before heading 'home.'

Saturday-Tuesday, 9.6.03-9.9.03
Sadly, I spend most of Saturday and Sunday feeling exhausted and generally yucky. I stay back at the house while the others play at the beach, the pool and back in Puerto Nuevo again. I'm feeling much better by Sunday evening, just in time for the long drive home Monday morning.

Twelve hours in the car later (!), we stop for the night at the home of friends near Ukiah Monday night. We rest up there the next day for the final 3-hour push home to Arcata on Tuesday. I collapse on sight in George's welcoming arms that afternoon, another trip to Mexico becoming a memory.

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