March 29, 2010
Yesterday we drove to San Borjita—a nearby site of pinturas rupestres or cave paintings. We have driven past the turnoff sign on the highway countless times, wondering what we would find at San Borjita. The government requires that anyone wishing to see these caves hire a guide. So at 7 am we were waiting by the highway at Palo Verde to meet up with our guide Salvador Castro Drew of Mulege. He had told Esperando that the whole trip and back would take 7 hours. Once he arrived we started on a marathon drive across a bumpy rocky back road—the kind that should take several pounds off but never does. Although the site was only 21 miles from the highway, the road was so horrid that it took 1 ½ hours to get there. In places we drove across wide arroyos of compacted scattered stone that chattered as the truck bounced along. Prior to Hurricane Jimena these arroyos had been studded with forests of Palo Verde and Palo Blanco trees. Now they were scoured rivers of rocks washed devoid of any vegetation. You could see the remains of broken and uprooted trees that had washed down the arroyo to stack up like trash against the canyon walls and the few stronger trees that had remained standing.
Now we had to go to sign the government registry book that was kept at another rancho. So on we bumped on another 15 minutes. We came to a beautiful but empty rancho that the government had constructed, complete with a cute little restaurant and baños (yay!), but the whole place was deserted except for blooming fruit trees and cooing doves. It was so lovely and peaceful we both just wanted to sit and stay forever. Esperando signed our names in the book and we got back in the car and to drive another 15 minutes back to the cave site.
Cave Guide for Mulege area (includes San Borjita and La Trinidad)
Salvador Castro Drew, based in Mulege, speaks English
215 161 4985
March 24, 2010
Missing my china and my own cooking!! Yesterday my collective food consciousness hit the wall. All I could come up with for dinner was tuna melts using a loaf of Orowheat bread I found down here a month ago and froze. I am so bored and tired of all the recipes we cook at the guesthouse—and I have no one but myself to blame since I am the one who finds the recipes and prints up the menu every week. It is very demanding to teach these women new recipes, what they remember to do one time is never the same the next time and over time my recipes change completely from the one I gave them to something else. For instance, last time they made the lasagna instead of cooking the cottage cheese in it (which they forgot), they put a dollop on top of it when they served it! It was wierd. It is exhausting to watch your great recipes erode over time and saps me of much desire to keep on coming up with new stuff.
Our meals always start with a soup, a very Mexican tradition. I now have a collection of the best soup recipes in the world I do believe, and I never tire of the soup. Often the soup represents the only form of vegetable matter that the meal will comprise as we have so few choices in the fresh vegetable department: broccoli, sometimes chard, squash, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, onions, chiles and beets. I get really hungry for great lettuce and mushrooms, and especially a good selection of fresh greens like spinach and mustard. Our main course is generally fish, chicken or shrimp, now and then pork or beef. We get horrible tough cuts of meat here so I stick with ground beef or machaca (dried beef). The only form of fish they don’t overcook is a la plancha, and our chicken options aren’t so good either—I wish I had some really great chicken casserole recipes (remember no mushrooms)! If you know of any please send them to me.
March 19, 2010
Any cat is good bait, but especially Winnie who is more active and more tolerant. We can boldly lick a cat on the face in the morning to show our Good Will and turn around and chase and bite the same cat boldly on the tail or other parts a mere 10 minutes later. When we really get into proper form, the mouth is full of cat fur, sufficient enough to look like a beard. The puppy knows that this is not acceptable, she has been told ‘no’, which generally lasts about 3 minutes until the puppy brain forgets, as it also forgets what housetraining is all about most of the time.
During the baiting the puppy approaches the cat, grappling it with the paws, trying to knock it on its side. Although the cat is twice as large, it is taken aback, falls over on its side from the onslaught and starts kicking the puppy with its hind legs. The puppy backs off and the cat bats it around with its front paws. The puppy then turns its rump to the cat, protecting its eyes from claws and making a strange puffing sounds. When we hear this puffing sound from another room we race in saying 'no, no, bad dog'. The cat takes off running at the interruption, the puppy gives chase.
The cat runs and jumps on the bed and watches the puppy leaping about making puffing noises, probably not unlike the sound a killer whale emits when hunting. The puppy can now jump up on the couch by herself, but still not the bed. At some point the cat races out of the bedroom, the puppy in full pursuit. The cat jumps up on the cat perch to get away. As the cat leaps it generally loses a chunk of fur that is left behind in the puppy’s mouth.
Sometimes the cat encourages this chasing. Bad cat. Can't help cats that encourage this kind of errant behavior.
March 16, 2010
March 12, 2010
Several other gringo couples were hanging out at Mark’s as well. It was from them we learned of the art exhibit taking place at Playa Santispac at Ana’s Restaurante on the beach. So, on our way back to Santa Rosalia we stopped off at Santispac to see what was happening at Ana’s which flaunted a full parking lot. The restaurant was wall-to-wall paintings and people. We chanced upon a booth representing the P.A.W. Veterinary Clinic currently scheduled for construction in Mulege. The clinic is planned to open in December 2010 and will be staffed part-time by three gringo veterinarians with a focus on spay/neuter services several days a week to manage the local animal population. It seems that although Lorraine Sellers, that kindly soul, could not return to run her clinic in Mulege (having been wiped out yet a third year by hurricanes, this time Jimena), she left behind the seeds of change for other Mulege expats to keep an animal clinic running there.
I talked to Debra Valov who will be the Office Manager at the new clinic, once it is up and running. A group of about 20 ongoing volunteers are in the process of raising money to finalize construction and build out this new facility which will be just off the highway near the Pemex station on the south side of town. They are currently seeking donations of money and goods. I decided to sign up to volunteer at the clinic a couple of days a week which is in need of bodies to help with every aspect from front desk work to prepping animals for surgery or tending to them afterwards. This is Baja—you never know from one minute to the next what will happen on a Sunday drive.
To donate to P.A.W. Veterinary Clinic:
Debra Valov, Office Manager
615 153 0587 (Mulege)
510 658 4656 (USA)
email@example.com (donations are accepted via Paypal)
Restaurant/Bar Playa Buenaventura
Call using a U.S. phone: 1-760-666-2648
Call using a Mexican phone: 01-615-161-1077
March 10, 2010
Here in Santa Rosalia the Hotel Frances and Hotel Las Casitas will let you have your dogs in the room. Hotel Frances is an 1886 2-story wooden building, an elegant historic relic from the days when the French were mining here. The lobby and dining room are filled with antique furniture and they serve a wonderful breakfast, but not any other meals. Las Casitas, perched at the cliff’s edge doesn’t have meals, but they make up for that with an incredible view and nice modern rooms. Advancing south to Mulege we always treasure going to Ray’s Place to dine and spending the night in one of his two rustic but quaint cabaña’s (if they aren’t full already). It is sublimely quiet there at night and all the stars in the heavens are available for viewing. If we only have Lupita the Chihuahua, we are ok to stay at La Serenidad if Ray’s is full. La Serenidad is a popular fly-in spot for pilots (with attached airstrip); and they are notorious for a pig roast on Saturday nights. Some rooms come with a fire place (it can drop down to 45F on winter nights here). On sunny days the swimming pool is a welcome relief.
This weekend we are planning to drive to Loreto for a little R&R. We are going to stay at the Inn at Loreto Bay which is both a lovely place and dog friendly besides. It will be our first stay there since the resort shut down and re-opened last year now under the auspices of the Mexican government’s tourism arm. It seems that their dog friendly policy is still in place. We can sit on the beach under a palapa with an umbrella drink and our dogs in tow, soaking up the rays. Doesn’t get much better than that!
We are also looking at dates in May and June to go to Cabo Pulmo and Todos Santos. We are just taking Little Tickle, it is a long drive for the big dog Sweet Pickle and his hips are becoming an issue getting in and out of the truck as well as his acceptance at most hotels because of his size.
I only found one hotel listed in Todos Santos on an internet dog friendly site that said would take pets; but when I went to the website the hotel said that they did not take pets—go figure! So I started shopping around to various nicer sounding hotels and B&B’s on www.tripadvisor.com, emailing places to see if they would take dogs until I found Casablanca B&B that said they liked dogs and could accommodate the three of us. Club El Moro in La Paz also permits dogs on the premises. They have decent rooms and a beautiful swimming pool with bar nearby. Ah the effort us dog lovers go to bring along our furry friends!
Hotel Las Casitas
Telephone: 011 52 615 152-3023
La Serenidad (small dogs only)
Telephone: 011-52-615-153-0530, or 011-52-615-153-0540
Inn at Loreto Bay
Telephone: 011 (613) 13-30010
March 5, 2010
I have been trying to move the feral cats over here to eat and have been slowly moving their feeding place closer and closer to Casa Abeja so that now they are only separated by a block wall. Yesterday while Winnie was screaming around, Carmen heard his wails from outside and discovered him sitting at the back door of the house—with only a screen door separating them. Immediately his wailing moderated. He was overjoyed to see her and they spoke in soft endearing murmurs. The conversation went something like this:
Carmen: “Hey handsom, where you ben? You nefer in the weendow at the White House anymore.”
Winnie: “Yas, terribly so. We moved up here last week. Originally, I liked it rather because it was new and different, but now it seems a trifle small and I am sooo bored. Almost no one gives me the proper adulation. It’s only Mother and Father here. Father’s at work most of the time and Mother’s too busy playing boring computer games and making curtains. Where have you been? ”
Carmen: “I weent to London to see the Queen! Ha, ha, not rally. Well, no one tol me you hat moved. I ‘spose now that you’re leeving in an antique house you’ll be putting on airs seence I only leeve under a trailer with mi mama.”
Winnie: “Tut, tut. Don’t you know I have such strong feelings for you? You have the most beautiful eyes. No really. Have you seen our new dog, the small one? She chases me all over the house. When I get really bored I go and bait her, then beat her up. It’s rather entertaining. We race around the house together.”
Carmen: “Yes I deed see her out in ze backyard once early in the morning. I wasn’ sure but what she was a raton, she ez so leetle. I hid in ze bushes and watch her, she was right uner my nose and deedn’t even know I was zere.”
Carmen and Mrs. Moustache inspect the block fence going up between us and the abandoned house next door.
Carmen: “Well, you rally stuck then. I get mi mama to come up later for a veesit.”
By that afternoon Mrs. Moustache and Carmen were sunning in our backyard on the bricks for the construction of a new fence. Last night they were there too. Pretty soon I will be able to feed them over here. That clever Winnie—he really knows how to sweet talk the 'gels'.
March 2, 2010
Today my mission was to buy curtain fabric for our bedroom as I have been busily making curtains for our little house. I ordered some lace fabric on the internet which we brought back with us from the States, but I wanted heavier fabric for one of our windows that has a motion detector light outside it. Periodically during the night the light goes on and lights up our room, waking us. I hoped to minimize its offensive glare by hanging a denser curtain.
So my plan was to buy the fabric, more Styrofoam balls, and straight pins. I meant to look up the word for pins before I left the house, but I forgot. Esperando came by to pick me up at noon. The stores are all open then, but the streets are really crowded and parking is the pits by then. He needed some chicken wire from the hardware store. He had already tried several other hardware stores with no luck and one of them recommended that he go to this one. So he would drop me off at Marla’s and drive around the block until I was done, then we would change drivers while he went for chicken wire and I drove around the block.
We got to Marla’s and I went in to survey what my fabric choices would be. I had really never checked out their fabrics before other than to realize that they had lots. I found colorful knits and lots of satins, some printed cottons, some upholstery fabric, colorful plastic tablecloths by the yard--and chose a mod pink floral pattern that wasn't really me because it was the only one that had colors that would go with our hot pink bedspread. While the girl was cutting my 6 meters of yardage I said in Spanish to the owner, a man whom I will call Mr. Marla, and the other girl at the counter, “I need an item but I don’t know its name in Spanish.” Then I thought, aha, maybe they know this word in English—so I said, “Straight pins!” I got the deer-in-the-headlights look.
So I tried again in Spanish, “this item is like a nail but skinnier and you use it to fasten two pieces of cloth together, but you don’t sew with it,” (thinking of a needle which I couldn’t remember the name for that either.) When I spoke to him, I confused the word for nail (clavo) with the word for hook (gancho). What I really said is ‘this item is like a hook but skinnier.’ Mr. Marla gave me a puzzled look. “No, we don’t have anything like that,” he said. Then I said, “Oh yes, you do, it’s not really a hook and it is really common. I just know you have it here.” I cast my gaze all around the wall, covered with various merchandise and swept my glance over the counter, missing the one critical spot.
I should mention here that neither of the girls even remotely wanted to participate in this guessing game, it was only Mr. Marla that would play, and not with much amusement. Finally a lightbulb went on for him and Mr. Marla said, “Ah, do you want peens?” “Oh yes, yes,” I said, “that is exactly it!!” I was very excited and then I saw under my very nose as he reached into the glass counter, heaps of safety pins. If I had only seen those first he wouldn’t have had to spend the last ten minutes trying to read my mind. I could have said, just like this but not bent. Fortunately I was the only customer in the store. “Alfiler,” said Mr. Marla, sniffing slightly like a disapproving professor. “Here we call those, alfiler, with the head on them like this they are alfiler de cabeza and a safety pin is alfiler de seguridad.” Ah, I said, “Alfiler. Muchas gracias.” My bill came to
US$40, the fabric was at least 54" wide, plus the pins, an embroidery hoop and the Styrofoam balls--the fabric cost less than $6/meter, a real bargain!
I got back to the car and by then Esperando had found a place to park. We traded drivers and I told him about my transaction. When we got close to the hardware store, he walked a block over and by the time I got around the block (I had to drive seven blocks further before I could turn back as there are so many one way streets here) he was coming out of the store with chicken wire in hand. I am sort of embarrassed to go back to Mr. Marlas—no doubt he’ll remember that crazy gringa if I ever get up my courage to darken their doorway again.
March 1, 2010
This dust comes in the house under the windows and the doors and settles on everything. It gathers in pools on the floor at both sides of the door where the edges are. It tracks across the floor leaving dusty footprints. (We have learned to take our shoes off when we come inside the house). It coats the outside of the house and the windows, impregnates window sills, puddles on the porch and stains the white cotton hammock hanging on the porch a soft gray. If it were snow, we would say, ‘oh how pretty.’ But, no one ever says that about dust.
It means that every day I have to vacuum, some times twice a day, not to mention dusting all the furniture. One of the biggggg mistakes I made was buying a glass top coffee table. Every day when the sun moves across the room to where the table stands a visible layer of dust becomes evident, more so than on the wooden furniture. So everyday it has to be dusted. I now appreciate even more my Mother’s story about how my grandmother, who moved to the arid desert of New Mexico in 1907 from the damp and wooded vales of Washington State, bemoaned the dust that filled her house when the wind blew. In wet places where grass grows the wind doesn’t carry the dust around like this. Is this what we mean by the sins of the fathers (or in this case the grandmother) are visited on the children? Do we subconsciously choose to repeat the toil of the lives that have come before us in some mysterious way?