November 22, 2008

Christmas is coming

TorOur Christmas tree arrived last week. Esperando told me we would be getting a Torote Blanco or Elephant Tree, a native Baja California tree which the local population has traditionally used as a Christmas tree. It has a thick gray-green trunk with peelish bark and pinnately compound green leaves with kind of a piney scent but is shaped like a regular tree and bears no resemblance to a pine tree. We have seen some very large ones, but ours is about 6 feet high. Esperando told me he had asked the Cactus Kid (the mine has to tag and relocate thousands of cactuses as part of its environmental requirement, hence a cactus specialist familiar with the over 30 varieties of local cactus) would be bringing a tree to our house. I said, why don’t we have him bring it in early December instead of now? We were driving around in the car at the time running errands. Ok, he said, I will have him bring it later. But when we got back home the tree had already been cut down and moved into the room. When you want stuff to happen here fast it never does, but when you want to delay things it doesn’t work that way either.

So it is sitting there staring me in the face, naked. Then this weekend we went out looking for gourds so I wouldn’t have to invest any money in Christmas tree ornaments. The mine has quite a number of gourd plants here and there and we drove along stopping every now and then and only taking the ones that had dried out. We ran into a Mexican mine employee who is known to us, and he wanted to know what we were looking for. When we said ‘gourds’ he smiled and said, ‘oh for Christmas ornaments.’ We said yes. Then we went on our way. We have also been combing the beach for clam shells and sea urchins. I plan to take the whole and spray paint them gold and silver and add a little glitter.

The next day we drove to the Pacific, a three hour drive over dirt roads, to find out about the whale watching at Laguna San Ignacio. We saw lots of boarded up cabins and found out that whale watching runs from January through March. We dipped our toes in the water and sat mesmerized by the gentle surf and warming sun while we ate our peanut butter sandwiches. Then we drove back to San Ignacio, a tiny town with a lovely tree shaded plaza and an old mission church. We went into a general store off the plaza and the owner asked us if we were American citizens. We both got pretty excited because we thought he said American cheese, and we thought he was going to sell us a nice cheddar. In fact he wanted to know if we were in favor of Obama's election. He said of the 100 people that have driven through on their way to vacation all but two were in favor of Obama. He thought our election was a really good thing for the world.

When we got back to the house there was a huge bag of gourds waiting at the front door from our mining buddy. The next day in the grocery store I saw him and thanked him. How many did you find he asked? Oh about 20 I said. (I was looking for the dried out ones). I found 52, he said! -- Now I have way more gourds than I could possibly ever need and I doubt there will be any future gourds as the seed source has been drastically depleted. Still it was a very kind thought of his to supply me with all these gourds.

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