April 28, 2009

So, ok— this morning it was a puppy.

I went outside to feed Mrs. Moustache and a stray puppy was sitting on the step by the front door almost like someone had told it to go to our house and stay by the front door and wait for La Duena de la Casa to come out. She was a very dirty little white dog, and looked like a leggy cross between a Scottie and a Miniature Schnauzer. There was a broken bit of filthy white yarn about 6 inches long dangling from her neck, a sort of a collar and leash in one that she had apparently chewed through. I tried to ignore her while I wondered what guard had let her into the yard and shut the gate behind her. Esperando and I both agreed later that she looked too big to get through the gate by herself. I went over to feed Moustache and the puppy politely sat and waited on the step in the same spot, as though it wasn’t polite to introduce herself first.

I went into the house and told Esperando that we had a puppy in our front yard, and then went back out with some food and water for it. She was still rooted to the same spot. Although she looked a little skinny, she had a very sweet personality and once I fed her, she acted like she had never met anyone as nice as me before. She writhed and wiggled all over. Esperando came and looked at her and said, “what a mess—you can’t keep it.” Then he went out to look and see if the guard might know about whose it was. In the process he discovered that his main all-around Lad, Francisco, who is helping with the construction of Casa Abeja, wanted the dog, sight unseen. And 10 minutes later the Favorite Maid wanted the dog for her sister. Uh-oh, a competition.

The cook and the maids whisked the puppy off to the laundry and gave her a bath. Señor Jueves who is married to Favorite Maid’s sister (who I will henceforth call Señora Jueves) just came to take the puppy back to their house. All-in-all it was a pretty painless fostering experience for me, but after all these recent puppies and kittens, I am beginning to wonder if I have animal magnetism.

April 26, 2009

Four little kittens lost their mommy and they began to cry!

Today Favorite Maid came to me and said that her cat Romina, who was spayed on Tuesday, had a marble size lump below her incision. From what I thought she described, it didn’t sound too serious, but I told her I would call the vet and see what she recommended. Dr. Sellers didn’t answer her phone the first few times, so Esperando and I went off tile shopping for Casa Abeja. This took several hours of looking at and purchasing tiles. When we got back to Casa Abeja the tile guys were there and we showed them what we bought, and starting discussing layouts and getting their ideas for the kitchen and the bathroom.

Right in the middle of all this brainstorming, I heard the mewing of a tiny kitten. A lightening bolt struck, and I suddenly knew that Penelope had given birth to kittens that I had no knowledge existed until this very moment. I hear kittens, I said, racing away from the tile meeting and following the squeaky mewing. As I began to search for them, I calculated they had been abandoned for five days since last Tuesday when we took Penelope in to be put to sleep. I followed the sound of the mewing and sure enough there were four tiny white kittens in an abandoned yard, so tiny, so trembly, so covered with fleas, so hungry, and way too young to be afraid of me. Oh my, four more kittens. I wonder if this is what you feel like when you find out you’re going to have quadruplets?

I ran back into the house and grabbed the box we had brought the tile in and said to Esperando, “I just found Penelope’s four kittens.” We entered the abandoned junk-filled yard, so full of trash, and in the corner by a stash of rotting planks these poor tiny things had crept out into the open from their little den. Obviously they were starving. When they saw us they all started to mew together. Both of us gathered them up, and I took them down to the guesthouse and in a daze, poured some milk in a saucer hoping that it wasn’t too late to save them—four more kittens. Three of them seemed clueless but the fourth climbed all the way into the saucer and began to drink. The maid grabbed up one clueless kitten and with a syringe began to put milk in its mouth, and so on with the next until they were all eating voluntarily. What am I going to do with four more kittens—someday cats? This time when I called, I got a hold of Lorraine and she told me to bring them down to see her. Mike and I discussed maybe having the kittens put down, but decided to wait and see what Lorraine thought about their chances for survival.

When we got to Mulege she looked the kittens over and called one of her volunteers to come help her manage the kittens so that she could attend to Romina. It turned out the cat would need to be reopened because she had either herniated or had an abcess. When I got outside the kittens were gathered around a gruel of water and canned dog food, scarfing it down again. They had serious flea issues and were anemic from loss of blood. Lorraine agreed to keep the animals overnight since we didn’t have the time to stay as Esperando was working.

Later that afternoon Lorraine called, it seems Romina had developed a very large sterile abcess from an allergy to the suture thread, but would be fine. The kittens had all been washed, were clean and sweet and now we think all of them have been spoken for! Gosh what a hot commodity. What exciting news! Hallelujah!

April 25, 2009

Whatever floats your boat?

We knew of a guy whom I’ll call Joe because he was a lot like Joe Btfsplk from the L’il Abner cartoon strip; someone who walks around with a cloud over his head. He isn’t a bad person; he just has incredible bad luck. He and his wife started the drive down here pulling a trailer full of their household goods to come work on the Boleo mine project. They were looking forward to working on the job as well as the fishing, playing and laid back Baja lifestyle.

If you’ve ever driven down the highway in Baja you will know how dangerous it can be. The lanes are quite narrow. The roadway is set upon a berm above the surrounding terrain and the shoulders are practically non-existent—if you get a wheel off the edge its apt to be curtains. There are lots of vados (dips) and curves that block things from being visible to you at a distance. Hazards include big trucks that come barreling along sometimes gobbling up part of your lane especially on curves; very slow vehicles that pile up lines of cars behind impatient to pass; impatient drivers who pass on blind curves and drive way too fast for the road; wandering and sometimes aggressive livestock such as big mean cattle or goats and burros; and stupid gringo bicyclers with overstuffed backpacks who endanger everyone by trying to fit on a 12-inch-wide shoulder and creating a real issue when two vehicles need to pass each other. My worst fear is intercepting a lane gobbling truck coupled with a bicycler in the same breath. The road is posted with signs trying to keep drivers at the speed limit or from passing at inappropriate places. One of my favorites is ‘major tarde que nunca’ or ‘better late than never.’

In any event, Joe had an accident just south of Tijuana and his wife was seriously injured. Joe left the scene of the accident to take her to a hospital. When he came back the police were there and arrested him for leaving, even though she might have bleed to death. Joe had to abandon his vehicle and trailer on the roadside to go off with the police. He was released from jail the same day, and the cops took him back to his vehicle that was being robbed at the time by some bad men. The cops told him not to interfere or those men would beat him up.

Eventually he managed to get his car, what was left of his stuff and his recuperating wife down to Santa Rosalia. Then on a separate trip back to the U.S., Joe collected a brand new 22-foot fishing boat that he trailered down. He got her all the way to Santa Rosalia without incident, then as he was parking the boat he backed her up onto a curb he couldn’t see and damaged the rudder and the propellers. He couldn’t find anyone repair such damage properly. The boat sat unrepaired for a year. About that time the mine project was put on hold due to world economic woes, and Joe lost his job. Joe decided to call it quits with Baja and the boat, and put her up for sale. One time we drove by and saw some Mexicans checking her out. Apparently Joe was finally able to sell her. We are sure he didn’t make any money on the deal.

Now Esperando has joined in with a group of his guys in a weight loss contest. The loser has to buy a fishing trip for the rest. A couple days ago as we were driving by the ferry building, Esperando said, “Hey look—there’s Joe’s boat!” La Miramar was sitting all shiny and pretty on her trailer with a big sign advertising that the new owner would charter fishing trips. Esperando called the number and left a message and has never been contacted. Maybe that’s a bad omen. I think maybe a lot of Joe’s bad luck may have rubbed off on the boat and like a sleeping dog, we should just let it lie. What do you think?

April 22, 2009

How to know when a day stinks

Today was the day I took Favorite Maid’s cat Romina for spaying and feral outside kitty Penelope for killing to Veterinarian Lorraine Sellers in Mulege. I felt not unlike the Grim Reaper. Lorraine’s last surgeries were today. She will be leaving for California in 8 more days.

We were at last able to capture the white cat Penelope who had developed a huge growth on her head. When I described the cat’s condition to Lorraine last time I saw her, she asked me if Penelope had any white on her head and then she said—ah, often white cats can get cancerous growths on their heads. Penelope displayed bizarre behaviour such as hissing at me sometimes while I fed her, but I could see her behavior was radically changing lately to the point she that was constantly hissing and even fluffing up her tail in anger but still pursuing me to get the food. It was getting to the point that she was menacing to feed. I told Esperando that I thought she needed putting down. We’d made several attempts to trap her in the past, but she never was around those times. It was as if she had an inner sense that told her not to show up on a given day. This time she was easy to catch. When I shut the door on her, she immediately started hissing and her companion Mrs. Moustache raced away, but came back to hang around the crate and talk to her friend when we went back inside.

At the appropriate hour, I packed Romina and Penelope into the car and off we started to Mulege. I had not noticed Penelope’s crate reeked of cat urine. In any event once I got into the car and started away, I almost gagged. I wasn’t looking forward to this drive. I wasn’t 20 minutes down the highway when my next act as the Grim Reaper was to murder a roadrunner. As I drove into a deep dip, he was flushed onto the highway. He couldn’t gain enough altitude and smacked into the windshield. None of this seemed very propitious. It was a beautiful sunny Baja day, but an increasing crappy one for my state of mind.

I was still feeling rotten about the roadrunner, when Romina started crying and scratching at her crate. Now Penelope joins her and both cats are meowing, although I think Penelope must have a tumor in her throat too, as her meow is very hoarse. It seemed odd she was no longer just hissing, that she now remembered how to meow. I thought, ok, they have both been really calm until now, but were tired of being in their crates. I made reassuring nice person noises hoping they would calm down again. Then our already foul air is permeated with a richer essence of hot cat poop. Poor Romina is in a tiny crate and can’t distance herself from her excrement. She keeps trying to bury it which makes the truck even smellier. It struck me then, this is what they mean about ‘stirring up shit.’

When I arrived at the clinic I apologized for the smelly state of my charges. One helper put Romina into a different crate and handed me the filthy carrier like it was all my fault. Lorraine took one look at Penelope and agreed she was a goner. Poor kitty! As it turned out, they found several more tumors developing on her head; I think her body was probably riddled with cancers too. So maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing, perhaps she has been spared more suffering.

April 21, 2009

Restaurant Guide to Santa Rosalia

Photo of El Muelle

These are the places we like to eat in Santa Rosalia, many are not mentioned in the guidebooks. These places are popular with tourists passing through and the locals alike. Everyone we know has a favorite among them, but none seems to have the same favorite. The restaurants basically serve the same menu. Don’t expect rapid service anywhere, the more of you there are the slower the service will be as everything is made from scratch. Bear in mind that the simpler the menu item the less likely you are to be disappointed. This is not the town for gourmet food—go to Loreto for that. What you will get is decent plain food.

Our favorite is El Muelle in the center of town on the corner of Calle Plaza and Av. Constitución. It is across from Plaza Benito Juarez and City Hall. Sometimes in the evening the plaza becomes a beehive of activity that you can watch from Muelle’s covered outdoor patio. Inside is air conditioned with two TVs running; most of the Mexican families eat inside. El Muelle has a full bar. We especially like the wait staff; they make you feel right at home. El Muelle is best for for fish and meats. Their carne asada and arrachera steaks with baked potato are favorites with many of the gringos. We think they are delicious. The beef comes from Sonora which is famous for good beef cuts. Fish ‘a la plancha’ and breaded scallops are good. They make a tasty ceviche and shrimp cocktail too. If you order a full meal it will be accompanied with soup. They make a drink I like, the Michelada. In other parts of Mexico this is beer and Mexican lime juice, here it is beer and Clamato. On a hot day it is a very refreshing drink and not too alcoholic.

Just down the block at Av. Obregón and Calle Playa is Restaurant Terco’s Pollito. Terco means stubborn in Spanish and it is said when the owner’s previous two restaurants burned down, he stubbornly rebuilt this one. They have a small covered patio as well as air conditioned inside dining. They have the best Mexican food (chile rellenos, tacos) in town, and spit roast their own chickens visible roasting through a plate glass window onsite in the patio. Also of note is an interesting squid dip served with the chips. They make a good breakfast as well. They serve just beer and soft drinks.

About 2 miles south of the town center on Mexico Hwy 1 toward Mulegé at the top of the hill and of the malecon is a orange and blue building overlooking the Sea of Cortez which houses Tuxpan, another full bar-restaurant tastefully decorated with Mexican art. A plus here is lots of parking, even to accommodate an RV. Sometimes they have a few tables outside for dining, but generally you eat inside, with air conditioning and TV running. On a recent visit the chicken fajitas were really excellent. They also make some interesting very large burritos, which are flattened and grilled. I would stick with the Mexican food here. The restaurant is set on a cliff adjacent to the water (which you can’t see from inside), but you should definitely take a picture of this lovely view of the Sea of Cortez. One of our guests saw killer whales attacking a baby whale from this site. Update 6/1/09 : Tuxpan has closed, the landlord wanted too much rent. Sniff.

The Hotel Francés on Mesa Francés is only open for breakfast (until noon, closed on Sundays), but what a fine breakfast it is! I highly recommend the El Minero breakfast if you like spicy food—it is a big one with eggs, machaca with chile, beans and chorizo potatoes. The lovely old dining room in this old French hotel has a relaxing atmosphere with its high ceilings and wall paper of antique Mexican bandanna fabric. The building was constructed in 1886 by the French. The lovely ladies here will take good care of you. The Hotel El Morro just off Hwy 1 on the south end of town past the Tecate Brewery is reputed to have a good Sunday brunch buffet, starting at 1 pm. Mexican families go here on Sundays for a relaxing time and you are apt to get more traditional home fare (not tacos and enchiladas). On the working man’s side of town local food worthy of note is served at Neto’s on the west end of Av. Obregón at Calle 11. This has a hole-in-the-wall atmosphere, no air conditioning, is open only for lunch, and serves a fantastic seafood stew (and an equally great seafood salad.) You will only find locals here. They serve beer and soft drinks. Jimmy Boy’s Tacos serves up a mean meat taco at their on-street dining stand where Jimmy presides behind the pots cooking up the taco filling at Calle Noria and Av. Constitucion. We hear good fish tacos are available at Tacos El Arabe taco stand next to the fruit market on the east end of Av. Manual Montoya; I have heard that all the taco stands in town are good.

Also of mention is the bar in the Fonatour Yacht Club, Solario. This is just south of the ferry terminal, going east as you would turn toward the Capitania del Puerto sign. The facility has a high fence around it and a guard. The food isn’t terrific, but they have a worth-a-visit al fresco second story bar, great cocktails and a good view of the sea. At night it is a disco with live entertainment.

April 18, 2009

What is birria?

On Sundays, as you drive around town it’s pretty quiet. Many of the businesses are closed and there is a lazy feeling in the air. Around 9 am the church bell in Iglesia Santa Barbara’s bell tower starts clanging, calling people to mass. Various no-name eating establishments, little hole-in-the-wall places, put out handwritten cardboard signs offering up posole, menudo and birria. Esperando and I are familiar with posole and menudo, but we always wondered—what is birria? We first noticed birria signs elsewhere on the mainland side of the Sea of Cortez in Puerto Peñasco many years ago when that place was still a sleepy little fishing village. Back then Esperando thought birria (which can be made of just about any meat, but most commonly here is of goat) might be a kind of barbeque.

Well today we decided to draw on our local resource and asked the cook to make us a birria for lunch. She started early this morning with a big hunk of beef, a bag of mixed spices that looked like pickling spice, a whole garlic head still in its papery skin, some onions, and a small pile of dried pasilla chiles, dried Anaheim-type red and green chiles, and a few of the fiery little chile pequins that have been harvested from the darling pepper tree my friend gave to Esperando. The house is suffused with the spicy essence of this stew or caldo bubbling away on the stovetop. We didn't know how we would last until we were allowed to sample this obvious piéce de résistance. I thought we might salivate to death.

When we came to the table condiments were set out in bowls to put on the birria: chopped lettuce, sliced radishes, chopped onion mixed with cilantro, and a bowl of Mexican limes. The meat in the birria had been shredded in skinny threads, and the broth was flavorful but a clear broth colored red by the chiles. It was the perfect lunch, not heavy, not especially hot from the chile, but redolent with the spice of clove, cumin and allspice. Next time Esperando wants to try goat.

April 16, 2009

Interview with a Mexican cat

Discussion with Frida Kahlo this morning at the breakfast table.

Dueña: Soooooooo, Frida. Have you ever given much thought to becoming a flying trapeze artist?

Frida: Oye gringa! Hurry up and feenish your eggs! I’m quite starving.

Dueña: You make these incredible leaps across the air to land on the table so you can lap the egg off my plate when I have finished. I really think you have the talent to be a trapeze artist. I've notice you point your toes like a ballerina when you sleep.

Frida (licking herself nonchalantly): Sí, I suppose so. I have quite the talent. Could I get egg yolks for trying?

Dueña: Hmmm. You would have to run away to the circus! I don’t know anything about trapezes, and I’m not sure what they feed cats at the circus. Last time the circus was in town, they ran out of money. They were asking people to donate their dead pets to feed the big cats. You probably wouldn't like that kind of life. You certainly do make this astounding leap every time we sit down to eat. It’s fortunate that you restrain yourself and don’t do it when we have guests.

Frida: I haf my social pretentions, besides I sometimes feel a leetle shy around strangers. Ju know, I jus make the same leap from your bed to the window fives times a night so I can get fresh air.

Dueña: Well, yes I know. You and Winnie wake us up all night long. At least you don’t weigh so much, Winnie really rocks the bed when he jumps back down on it. Actually Winnie is the one that taught you how to do that if you recall.

Frida (rolling her eyes): Ju may say he teach me, but rally it was something I would haf think up myself. Ju should jus try some leaping, it would do wonders for your figure!

Dueña: Frida, are you liking living here as a semi-domesticated cat? I notice everyday you seem more comfortable, a little calmer. Although I still don’t understand why you run away from me sometimes, and other times seem to enjoy being petted.

Frida: Well I’m older. I haf to set an example for the leetle one, Carmencita. You can never rally trust people and she should continue to believe that.

Dueña: She does believe that, she never lets me anywhere near her. But, don’t you think that you’re taking kind of a hard line about us humans? I mean after all who feeds you and makes sure you’ve got all your shots. Who cared enough about you to make sure you don’t have kittens?

Frida: Deelicious eggs like always, ju haf a good cook, but don haf no more food for me? Bye.

April 14, 2009


Spring has finally arrived in the Baja, the days are warming up pleasantly but the nights are still cool. The garden at Casa Boleo is full of Easter lilies which are starting to bloom. We have a whole flower bed full of them opening up. The mango trees all have little tiny mangoes on them no bigger than a pea right now. The birds are everywhere looking for things to feed their babies. Yesterday I saw an industrious couple of sparrows busily peeling bugs off the radiator grill of a parked truck. And suddenly a peculiar kind of a bumblebee has resurfaced that is called a moscaron. They are big and black and in constant motion zooming around at slow speed. I have never seen one land on anything. They are territorial toward one another. People here tell me they have a really mean bite, but only if bothered. They are about half the size of a hummingbird.

Esperando and I drove up to Loreto with Sweet Pickle to spend Easter weekend and celebrate our anniversary. On the drive there we detoured to Santa Inez to see if our favorite beach had been invaded, but all we saw was a couple of families and lots of empty beach. I guess the road is too long and bumpy, and what with no services such as minimarts or little restaurants it doesn’t draw the same crowd. We drove back to the highway and sure enough all the beautiful beaches were as advertised, a tent city of Mexican tourists packed in as tight as sardines for Semana Santa. I must say it looked like everyone was having fun, we have never seen these beaches so crowded even when the gringos took them over earlier in January and February (which has the very worst weather—cold and lots of wind and blowing sand, crazy gringos).

When we got to Loreto we walked through an open house at the Inn at Loreto Bay. It was a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo with beautiful architectural detail, a small outdoor patio downstairs, and upstairs a nice outdoor kitchen with plenty of rooftop space for entertaining. We meet some nice people on the beach that spend half the year there and the other half in the U.S. It sort of bothers us the idea of living in a gringo enclave, but so far everyone we met connected with that property seems really nice. We were ready to buy in, but can’t afford it right now, we’re still pouring money into the Casa Abeja remodel.

That evening we drove into Loreto and had a nice dinner at El Mediterraneo on the Malecon recommended by Ray in Mulege. It has a great atmosphere and an excellent wine list. We shared the paella, I don’t believe I’ve ever had a paella that I fell in love with, even in Spain. This one was full of great shellfish but still didn’t do the trick for me. What was fun was watching all the cars cruising by from our second story perch. It was a regular bumper-to-bumper promenade of just about everyone: cops, army guys in jeeps, beer drinking teenagers packed in truck beds, grandmothers in Toyotas and dogs on their way somewhere.

April 12, 2009

Why do these people do these things?

Oldest Maid’s darling Beautiful Daughter (a teenager) was cleaning the family bathroom yesterday with hydrochloric acid and seriously burned her throat from the fumes. Oldest Maid’s sister, Favorite Maid, told me this when she arrived for work this morning. She also told me Oldest Maid would not be coming to work. Although they took Beautiful Daughter to the hospital last night, the doctor on call only gave her an injection and would not administer oxygen because he was not a specialist. Why an injection you wonder—because that is the way they treat any problem here regardless whether it is useful or not. They told her to eat lots of ice and just drink liquids and gave her some antacid pills. I looked up hydrochloric acid fumes on the internet (praise the internet!) and it is pretty serious. She probably should have been given oxygen last night. She could have seriously damaged her lungs and it could be permanent. She may get pneumonia and could even die. I told Favorite Maid to tell Oldest Maid to get the hydrochloric acid out of the house, that it was an industrial chemical and had no place in a household. Favorite Maid agreed with me.

Then Oldest Maid came to work a few hours later. I said get that hydrochloric acid out of your house. It is very dangerous. If you need a strong cleaning agent next time use Clorox. She told me her daughter was really ill and couldn’t talk and was having difficulty breathing. Then I told her she needed to take her daughter back to the hospital. She said she has an appointment for Monday with a specialist. No, I said, you shouldn’t wait until Monday, this is serious, and you leave now and take her to La Paz. It won’t do any good both sisters said, all the doctors have left both here and La Paz to go on vacation for Semana Santa. That is what the healthcare professionals told us last night at the hospital.

Then I called Esperando. Clever Esperando, he sicced the Mine Safety Manager onto it. The Mine Safety Manager went to visit Beautiful Daughter and assess the situation. The Mine Safety Manager knows about industrial chemicals, and he is trained as an emergency medical technician as well as being a fireman. He knows the emergency room staffs here, if nothing else maybe they can get her some oxygen. We are fortunate that he is not on vacation.

Can you imagine a national vacation two weeks long with people partying and carrying on at the beach and no medical care available? Can you imagine all the highway accidents, heart attacks, stabbings, food poisoning, etc., and no significant medical care available because the doctors are gone? This can be a very scary place.

The Mine Safety Manager took her back to the emergency room, then went and got an oxygen canister so she can breathe it for the next couple of hours. The upshot of this crisis is that the mine is going to buy some oxygen tanks and a defibrillator so we can have some reliable sources for a medical emergency. The Oldest Maid came and borrowed US$400 from Esperando so that she can take Beautiful Daughter to a finally found specialist in La Paz who has not shut down for Easter weekend.

April 8, 2009

Santa Rosalia in Flames

Fires in Santa Rosalia are a serious threat as the majority of the houses here are made of wood, and in the downtown area they are built right on top of one another, each sharing an adjacent wall, reminiscent of San Francisco in 1906. On March 18 while we were in Estados Unidos, an entire city block of downtown Santa Rosalia burst into flames due to faulty wiring at an internet café. This is the second time that faulty wiring in the same café had caused a fire, but last time it didn’t cause much damage. The fire started about 4:30 pm and lasted until evening as there wasn’t sufficient water to fight it effectively. The mine stepped in right away to help the city out. Two fire trucks and crews battled the flames, but the trucks didn’t hold enough water to put the fire out. Ten houses were burnt to the ground, including the home of a mine employee and his mother. Fortunately no one was hurt. When they ran out of water they used a bulldozer to tear down standing houses and create a fire line.

Early on Minera Boleo had purchased two fire trucks, giving one to the city and keeping one for the mine. The trucks each hold 350 gallons of water, sufficient water to last only 6 minutes. Minera Boleo brought the fire truck from the mine to help fight the fire. Although the city has a fire hydrant system, it is defunct. We have heard two stories about that: some say the city doesn’t keep the reservoir full, others that the city sold that hydrant system piping to a contractor for another use. Although the fire department also had a large tank wagon nearby downtown for storing additional water, it was empty. We believe the city uses the tank water to keep the plants watered. Everytime Esperando walks past he thumps it and it is always empty.

On the night of the fire, when the fire trucks ran out of water they drove the tanker to the edge of town, about 10 minutes away, to the water refill station. We have heard that people were there washing cars and wouldn’t move to let the tanker refill. Where is a cop when you need one? Why doesn’t a fireman have more authority? The mine is now purchasing a tanker truck that can refill from any water source, including the ocean to which we have easy access. How do you save a people from themselves?

The aftermath—in the U.S. you would look to your insurance company to help you out. Here people don’t carry insurance. But this being an election year has worked in the favor of those who lost their homes as the government is going to rebuild everyone’s house. They will only build them a one level house, so those wanting an upstairs will have to figure out some way to pay for it themselves.

April 6, 2009

Semana Santa

Yesterday we went to the beach at Santa Inez. As we drove out of town there were several indigeous women, sitting in front of the church making palm crosses. It was a really great Kodak moment but my camera wasn't ready. The beach was really deserted. There were miles and miles of beach just all to ourselves. Other times we’ve seen one or two couples off at a distance. You can't imagine how lovely it is to have such a beautiful beach and no one else to share it with. We discussed the possibility of spending our anniversary night next week by camping there, however it is very hard to gauge two important aspects: how strong the wind might be blowing the sand on that day; and whether there will be lots of drunk Mexican campers crowding the beach with boom boxes and fireworks.

The wind blowing the sand can be pretty unpleasant and there is no way to get away from it or minimize the grit in the face effect when the wind is up. Yesterday we finally went up in the dunes to get a little protection from the wind so that our tuna salad wouldn't have that special crunch that only sand can add to it. The trouble with the dunes is the stickers and cactus, once you become dune protected you are right up where the cactus are growing and they are seriously prickly. We encountered some nasty very large stickers that attached themselves to Dash and our blanket. I sure wouldn't want to experience stepping on one. You would never get all the spines out of your foot. Finally the sand and wind found us in the dunes as well, so we left. It’s a good thing as I got home I was fairly burned and would probably have been a crispy critter in just a little more time. That wind hides the feeling of all the sun that you are getting.

The drunk Mexican campers is directly correlated to the fact that the next two weeks are the time that most Baja Mexicans take off for Semana Santa (Easter) holidays. We are told by those in the know that it is best to stay clear of the beaches then just for sheer noise and rowdiness. Apparently these are not the locals but visitors from Tijuana and northern Baja. We don’t know if anyone goes to Santa Inez during this period or whether they head farther south to Bahia Concepcion, an idylic bay surrounded by 4 or 5 white sand beaches close together with easy access from the highway. We certainly saw a good 100 cars passing us going south on the highway, fully loaded up with vacation gear and full carloads of people. None of them were turning into the road to Santa Inez, but they’ve got the next few days to take over that beach too.

When we got back to the house we were sitting in our bedroom and heard an odd chanting clacking noise from the street. It was not identifiable, so Esperando went out to see what it was and called me to come look. Apparently as part of Semana Santa the Yaqui Indians (and other repentant Catholic persons) have a sort of penitente celebration where they dress in costume and wear masks with deer or other animal heads or even devil or witch heads. They have on a girdle of jingle bells, and carry a stick in one hand and a machete in the other which they clack together repetitively as the walk along chanting. Some of them parade in groups of 10 or so downtown, but the main event is at a stadium near town where they have a whole assemblage. I found a youtube.com video of the event from last year

This morning we went early into town to run some errands and saw the church had been all decorated up with palm fronds and crosses. The Navy is out on the pier practicing maritime music with bugles and drums--so I guess maybe we have a parade coming too. This week promises to be interesting.