One morning a child woke from a peaceful dream, the forest was buzzing like nothing she had heard before. She swung her legs over the side of her hammock and looked around.
Everything looked the same…
She took a deep breath, following the air, identifying the smells…no nothing different.
She listened as the trees seemed to vibrate and hum a foreign sound.
The animals of the forest and streams became frightened. Squirrel ran to the sleeping place of the human child. Darting here and there, all in a tussle, Squirrel could hear nothing but the insistent buzzing of forest trees. It was driving him mad. “Please make it stop,” complained Squirrel to the child.
In just the most perfect squirrel talk the child promised to look into this strange occurrence of sound.
She packed just the right amount of food for a child her size and pulled a wicker pack she made out of a hole in the tree she called ‘home.’
She went in search of the black and white Magpie.
As she remembered a dream she had once about a caterpillar that turned into a beautiful flying creature. She remembered the cave paintings in her dreams. Perhaps it is this phenomenon that is causing the sound.
The Magpie appeared with a blue settler jay and they sat high on a perch in a lovely oak tree.
“What can we do for you today child?”
She went in to explain her dream and the buzzing in the trees. None of her friends had heard this sound. “I supposed since you eat in the trees you might know,” quizzed the child.
They had seen no caterpillar cocoons and only a strange hollow casing of an alien being, half mantis and half beetle.
The child was puzzled and quarried the two further, “Who else can know the answer to this?”
There is a fable told of a curse placed on an ancient beast. It would devour entire forests in a weeks time, leaving no shade for the baby birds. Huge trees died and grasses were stripped next.
The Jay said that only Mother could answer this question since it was long before their lives. The child thanked them and they flew off.
The child went to her favorite place to sit in quiet meditation. She asked for The Mother’s help. A day passed and she dreamed of walking through a canyon playing a flute. Above her was a hawk gliding on the currents. Soon her flute became the cry of the hawk and she saw through its eyes.
Many hundreds of moons ago, a witch came to the land and was made a deal by a prince. The lands were being ravaged by an ancient dragon that would consume the fields and forests. The animals called on the Witch to slay the ancient dragon. They paid a fair price for the spell and went on with their lives.
The witch found the dragons favorite watering hole and lay in waite. Sometime after the setting of the moon, in the inky blackness of night, the dragon appeared.
The witch had poured a potion into the water and the dragon soon froze in place.
The dragon asked the witch kindly to forgive its hunger and if it could, it would eat much less. The witch smiled and spoke a spell that caused the dragon to remain dormant for up to 15 years. The dragon was not happy and lashed out and the witch turned it into a small insect, and it would be imprisoned underground, only to emerge every 15 years.
The hawk released the child and she heard only her flute again echoing in the canyon.
She woke from this dream and ran quickly to the meeting place by the big lagoon. She explained her talk with the magpie and jay, her dream and the hawk.
The fear slowly faded from everyone’s minds. The sound of the creature under such a spell should be enjoyed.
Eventually one day a cold air blew from the north and the buzzing stopped.
Everyone settled in for the coming of the colored leaves.
In not so recent past… maybe when the moon passed into the darkness two times in one cycle of time, the animals of the lands and streams had a feeling of dread.
The Mother Earth and Father Sky had lost a child and they wept and wept.
The sky lamented and huge clouds formed storing the mournful tears and heavy hearts
The animals could no longer see during the day and gathered in fear in the highest peaks as the tears began to rain down on the land
The child that lived on the beach, at the edge of the forest, saw the rage of the sea as the furry of the clouds made huge waves that thrashed the delicate sand.
The child knew her friends were in danger and ran over the ancient trails to the secret meeting place of the night seers. The night seers could see when the others could not.
They had special powers and summoned the animals and fishes of the sea.
The child was instructed to go to the lagoon and seek the Sleepy Turtle.
It was said the Turtle was the most ancient of all creatures… so ancient that the earth itself had been fooled by its slumber and grown trees and mountains on its very back.
The child knew this journey would take too long and went to find the falcon that lived in the side of the the canyon that held the great river of red.
The raven knew the exact place and agreed to help the child. She climbed onto his silky black back, held tight to the scruff of neck feathers and they took off.
The journey took the whole day and most of the night.
In the darkness of night, huge burst of light flashed in the sky and you could hear the the very breaking of The Mother’s heart.
The sky filled with streaks of light that flashed sometimes more bright than the sun. The heavens broke open and the rains once’s again flooded the land.
On the second day, the child arrived in the great canyon of the river.
There was a huge cave in the wall of the ancient exposed rock and the falcon sat waiting.
He had heard from the swallows of her arrival.
“How can I help little one,” asked the falcon?
The child told the story of the Sleepy Turtle and that only it could save the lives of the animals of the forest, deserts and streams.
The falcon looked at the sky and knew that there was little time left.
“I will fly faster than time,” said the falcon.
The child was grateful for the eagerness of the falcon to help her friends. She jumped onto the falcons back and he jumped off the cliff and soared so fast the world became a blur.
In less than the blink of an eye, they arrived, but where was the Turtle?
In a dream, the child was given a small pan flute by a native she met. He told her it would help her when she needed a miracle.
The child reached into her sleeve and there it was. She pulled out the flute and an enchanting melody shook the land. The earth shook, the sky rumbled and the clouds flashed.
Huge landslides tumbled down and when all was quiet… an eye opened like a giant mirror and the child saw herself but not as she knew herself. She was a beautiful woman with long hair as black and silky as the otters tail.
The eye blinked and more earth fell from the huge figure they were standing on.
The clouds flashed and the rain began again. The last of the trees and rocks fell away as the earth beneath their feet shook violently again.
A sleepy old turtle rose from the land and on its tremendous back was a whole world of lush green trees and high top mountains, deserts and valleys, rivers, lakes and streams tumbled down the craggy peaks on its back.
It opened its eye again and spoke softly in the child’s mind so only she could hear.
“Your friends are fine.”
The child let a single tear fall.
The turtle told the child that a deal had been struck with the elements created by the sorrow of Mother Earth and Father Sky.
The clouds flashed once more and the ground trembled but not a drop of rain fell.
Many, many long years ago, Mother Earth was a small child herself and was cast out by an old witch and her father was never seen again.
She was thrown into the primordial seas and left for dead.
The huge ancient beings with wings tried to save her, the fish of the ancient sea couldn’t hold her above the waves and angry wind blown seas.
Finally a giant otter appeared and knew the only creature that could save her and dove deep into the inky Black Sea.
All the fish and flying animals took turns helping the young child to stay afloat. She finally could no longer stay awake and drifted off into a deep dreamless sleep and slid beneath the water.
As the otter rose out of the darkness she brought with her a huge sea turtle that had been asleep on the sea floor for years untold.
It rose to the surface with enough fertile soil to sustain life and the small child. She grew and created a world of beauty. It was grief that has brought this suffering to your friends.
The turtle lumbered off to where the lagoon and forest met. The earth had risen up above the angry waters and her friends had gotten on with their lives as if nothing ever happened.
The child turned to the giant old turtle and put her hand up, the turtle laid his head gentle on her hand and he fell back into his deep, deep slumber.
The wind finally blew us off the road but we made it a few more clicks closer to home. Chris knew this cute little place in Beaver to bed down called the DeLano Motel. It’s less than $80 usd all in. The guy that owns the place is a great business man of middle eastern decent. The place is cute on the inside and has a nice patina shall we say? The personal touch he put into the detail of the rooms reminded me of someone who takes pride in his business. In this rural area of Utah this motel would be known as “a dive hotel.” I’ve learned not to judge a book by its cover. The Hotel McCoy in Tucson, Arizona, has the same vibe. You drive into the McCoy Hotel and it is a converted storage shed facility. The rooms are retro in style and very quaint.
While in Mexico, we mostly lived in our van and boon-docked or dry camped. We always tried to find a local eatery or roadside taco shop to get at least one meal a day. It actually costs less to buy a meal out, than to buy all the ingredients and make it for ourselves. Once a week we needed to find a hot shower or a place to use our own and refill drinking water. You could always get a room for $17 usd and use it solely for the hot shower and flush toilet. Costs a bit more than a camp spot on the beach, but the hot shower makes up for it. You then can park the van in a safe parking lot. Score! Two birds with one stone.
The Bufadora Hotel in Acension, BCS, Mexico, was one of those places that was a cute “dive hotel” by European standards… but we aren’t in Kansas anymore Dorothy.
When we pulled into Acension, it was a normal windy day on the Pacific side of the Baja and guess what… We were stuck in the van by the hurricane force winds. We found the hotel by a referral from my cousin, who lives in Acension permanently, at least for now. They had two small rooms around the back of the complex. The room had a large double bed a window, night stand, ceiling fan, and typical plastic chair. The bathroom had a warm shower, depending on who was showering, and a flush toilet. Best part of the hotel was the patio area which ended up facing the perfect way to block the wind and enjoy the sun. Everyday we’d gather on the back porch and enjoy the sun and the view. The tide coming in would cause the waves to crash on the rock buttress and blow up through the natural blow holes. The sound was thunderous.
The owner is a well known savvy business woman, whose personal touches made you look past the rusted chairs, rotting fish corpses, and the garbage thrown over the cliff side. Culture… don’t pass judgement.
As you drive through the small towns all up and down the Baja, you see the squalor and the pride side by side. Children play, woman gather on the porches and prepare the big meal for the day. Bright colored clothes hang in rows on drying lines. I am but a passer by on my way to where ever the road takes me. I am in their country, a visitor with permission to explore. Our money is needed in the local communities and those towns that have learned to entice the adventurers, keep a clean area and put pride in every taco, quesadilla, and pollo they prepare for their clients do well. These people are very proud, and kind.
I fought the urge the first few days to be super vigilant and to not be plain old paranoid. Why? Fear of the unknown. Fear because of a prejudice that exists in the recesses of my mind from childhood and cultural conditioning. As I walked across the parking lot of our hotel last night in Page, Arizona, I can honestly say that I felt more vulnerable and fearful walking there than I ever did in the Baja. I never encountered a crazed drug addict with a gun or homeless people lying around. The locals took care to be quiet and respectful and take care of their own. So many horrible pictures painted by the media, state departments and travel advisors that when you see the reality of the kindness of the locals and the communities, you wonder if you’re in the right country.
The people we encountered were always friendly and eager to talk to you. If anyone engages you, local, nomads or transplant, better not be in a hurry. This relaxed pace is a way of life that spills over into everything. For example, if you order food or a drink, it will take some time for it to arrive but may be the best meal you’ll ever have, and after you ask for the bill, your pleasant mood will not be dashed… drinks and a full meal for four people… less than $300 pesos or $15usd. It’s hard to believe such good service and great food can be so cheap… by whose standards?
The conversation must be had… COVID in Mexico… we met a gentleman in El Trufino who came out of a clinic door and announced to us that he had just gotten his shot and he was proud to do his part. The man was thinking about others as well as himself. Every establishment took our temperature, required masks and cleaning your hands, before entering because COVID has effected so many families on the Baja, no one argues, travelers and locals alike. Some had lost their entire family on the main land. Everyone respects everyone. How kind. I know a country that could take a lesson from these kind, hard working people. Masks all around, even in outdoor settings. End of subject.
Religion and celebrations seem to always go hand in hand in most Latin countries. The predominant religion is Catholicism and these lovely people have made it fun! The traditional Mexican folk lore and celebrations have been incorporated into the catholic celebrations. Missionaries for hundreds of years have been trying to break this spirit but it seems that a compromise was made, or the Mexicans are just stubborn. This religious stance makes their family key. It was not unusual for an entire family of 9 to pile out of a Ford truck at the beach and spend the day swimming, eating and drinking. We always seemed to be included and they would send over the person who could speak the most English and ask us to join in. We were always served first as the family watched… a bit uncomfortable the first few times but how can you say no? Fresh ceviche anyone? There is a lot of hand jesters and laughing as we all try to communicate.
Traveling has afforded us with experiences beyond our wildest dreams. An open mind and acceptance can take you into a world feared by so many who don’t. “Women shouldn’t travel alone…”
“You will get mugged or worse…”
If I listened to the naysayers my life would be very boring.
Mexican families are matriarchal and no family would ever abandon their elder parents outside of their own home. The men respect women. Families are a community affair… meaning everyone makes sure that if help is needed for a struggling family, everyone steps in. In a way I truly think that they have much better respect for family of all ages.
My friends have moved to Loreto, settled in, and bought an 18 year old house and Louisa, who has been the housekeeper since, came with the house. She and her daughter had been taking care of the cooking, cleaning and whatever was needed since the house was built. Sound strange? Actually it is common to allow the house keepers to keep their job. It’s her livelyhood and source of income for 18 years. They want to keep their jobs and continue to be a productive member of the community, but also support her family. One of the hardest things for a traveler, seeker, an outsider to understand is we can completely ruin the lives of the native peoples if we try to impart our gringo views, meaning… our wealth and extravagant life styles are not theirs. We shouldn’t pity them or try to save them. Guidelines should be observed in tipping and paying for services. We could literally set them up to fail if you should move away. We all spend more when we make more. The concern is… the gringos can always leave.
There is so much more to say but we are coming up on our stop for the night. We just drove down a road in Beaver, Utah that had every religion covered. One denominational church sits beside a different and so forth and so on for 12 churches. I bet that only on Sunday, if ever, will this town wake up to the sound of the church bells. Those are things I will miss from our travels into the neighborhoods and supporting the local economy. I hope that things have changed… I am afraid though that my hopes will not be found so I will let things be as they are and just be.
I’m sitting in my van outside Kanab, Utah, USA, being pummeled by 30-50mph winds from the SSW… storms coming. I’ve been driving only an hour or so but it’s been a constant two handed battle against the wind. We choose to find the shelter of a grove of pinion and juniper down a well worn red dirt road off Rte 89.
We can’t go outside, the fine silt of red rock desert gets into everything… even if closed. Within a minute you’re seeking shelter as your eyes feel as if they are wrapped in wool. Another gust and a burst of red sand whips across the dirt road and into the side of the van. It’s just impossible to do anything so what better time to decompress.
Part One: The Landscape
I look outside the window of the van to a familiar yet foreign landscape from the desert of Baja California and Sur, let’s just call it “the Baja”. The greens, although vibrant, seemed muted in some way. The alien foliage and fauna of the Baja became like wandering through a page of a Dr Seuss book. The odd shapes and contorted tress, the giant cacti that made travel off road dangerous. One of my favorites is the giant Cardon Cactus, which was blooming when we left. I was told it only blooms at night and attracts bats to is succulent nectar. They fly to the flower, a large white multi petal flower that protrudes off the body of the main cactus, on a soft green, fruit like bulge, and the bats drink till they literally fall away as if drunk on its nectar.
The desert in the Baja was coming to life even under the cloudless skies. The plants have adapted to this unforgiving landscape and put forth a spectacular sense overload of heavy sweetness from the most delicate of flowers. Again, these small delicate flowers are also a feast for the birds and the bees. They buzz and flit and fly in and out of the trees and flowers, some looking for the flowers and others, those the flowers entice. In such a harsh environment the whole place thrives.
The sky, well the sky definitely rivals any cloudless high Rocky Mountain summer day. The key word is cloudless. The sun shines brightly 365 days a year. The humidity rises quickly through the day near the ground, only to be heated up, creating well placed clouds that create the most enchanting sunsets. These vibrant sunsets can turn the entire bluish green sea, into the most beautiful pink and golds. The sky and sea become one without a horizon.
The mountain ranges, always visible from any location on The Baja, are the work of some amazing artist. The newly formed peninsula, by a geological time frame, has the most diverse mountain ranges of anywhere I’ve ever seen in such a short relative distance. The bed of the ancient sea was thrust up by tectonic activity, pushing with it all manor of fossils and bones. The huge sea creatures that became entombed over eons now exposed in the rock slides of the ancient sea floor as it tumbles hundreds of feet and is exposed by the elements.
Some mountains bear the scars of mining, big corporate and small village operated co-ops. Others soar to the highest of heights and seem impenetrable. These lofty giants can catch entire weather systems and wring it out on one side or the other. The great arroyos are testament to the power and ferocity of these rains.
Further south, in Baja California Sur, there is evidence of volcanic activity. These beautifully sculpted mountains are verdant green from the constant humidity of this region of the peninsula. They have hidden entire stone Catholic missions and preserved ancient cave paintings from indigenous tribes of Cucupas and Puipui.
The sand on the southern beaches are softer and the seas range from a kite surfers dream, a surfers haven, a wave lovers and thrill seekers dream… to the calm blue green waters of The Sea of Cortez and Bay of California attracting lovers and fishermen, tourist and drug runners. The Sea pours into the Pacific and the two become undistinguishable.
My mind can still see all this clearly. Our two months exploring the Baja has waken a sleeping dragon, sparked creativity and created a deep spiritual connection with the very essence of this strip of land. Life here is an intricately choreographed dance of life and death and rebirth/rediscovery.
I focus my eyes back outside the van as a gust of wind shakes us and whistles through any space it can find. The beauty of this red rock desert, speckled with sage brush, tall lodge pole pines, stunted cedar, pinion and juniper, brings me back in touch with my love of the deserts of southern Utah.
It was a beautiful end to a perfect day.
The animals of the forest, mountains and deserts all settled into their dens for the night.
A small child wandered through the forest, to the edge of the lagoon, and curled up under her favorite palm tree and fell fast asleep.
She dreamed of flowers and butterflies… soft clouds and warm sunshine…
In the morning she woke to the silent lapping of the waves on the shoreline, but something was missing.
The child looked around in darkness.
Where is the sun? Why is it not rising from the lagoon?
The animals of the forest were just as confused.
All the flowers stayed tightly closed, waiting for the sun to rise so they could show off their beautiful colors.
The animals ran around in circles, bumping into trees, and tripping on rocks.
The sky stayed dark.
The small child knew something was terribly wrong.
She sat at the edge of the forest and lagoon, unable to see in the inky blackness.
She called out for anyone who could see to help her.
She peered into the blackness but she heard nothing.
She felt a slight brush against her arm and turned to see the bright eyes of the wise old owl.
“My child,” he said, “how can I help?”
“Wise owl… something has happened to the sun,” she exclaimed. “My friends are unable to see and we must do something!”
“Let me see what I can do,” said the wise old owl and he flew off.
He flew to the den of the mountain lion.
The mountain lion had already seen the situation and the confusion of his family in the forest.
“We need your help to bring back the light to the forest,” the owl said.
The mountain lion had dreamed of this day and told the owl of his dream.
“It is the coyote,” the mountain lion explained.
“I have seen his game in my dream. He is up to being a trickster again. We must find a way to distract him. He has taken the moon and covered the sun. This was my dream,” the Mountain lion confided.
The owl and the lion used their extraordinary sight in the dark and went to the highest point in the forest.
All the animals listened carefully to the mountain lion.
When he was done speaking the coyote laughed out loud, giving away his hiding place, the trickster was had!
The birds, having special powers to fly in the darkness, honed in on the laughter and flew after the coyote.
The coyote, hearing the birds coming ran away in fear. His power fading as he ran.
All at once the moon began to slide away from the sun and the animals of the forest, streams, oceans and sky rejoiced.
The child was happy her friends could see again.
The owl, mountain lion and child made a plan… everyday the birds would find the coyote, surround him and sing loudly, confusing the coyote so he never again could steal the sun.
One night, in the land of whimsy and magic, a small child had the most marvelous dream.
The animals and small creatures of the forest and fields came to her.
The little child listened as they explained, in only language she could understand.
The small birds chirped wildly and the bees buzzed in swarms…even the small snails, ants and geckos had something to say.
It seemed the world was missing something very important and she listened with deep concern only a child could have.
She promised she would try to find a solution and went searching high and low.
Finally she came to a big tree… it was so tall she couldn’t see the top so she began to climb.
She tried not to be afraid as she got higher and higher.
All at once she heard a small voice…it was a spider hanging from her back legs on a silken thread.
“What brings you so high into my tree young one,” the spider asked.
The child answered, “I am looking for an answer to the small animals and insects of my small forest.”
The spider pondered and said to the child, “I know someone who can help, but you must continue to climb up my tree past the clouds and into the heavens.
The child looked up and was frightened but summoned up all her courage, fueled by her love for all her small friends, and with the help of the spider, began to climb higher and higher.
Finally, after a long time climbing, she cleared the clouds and looked around.
The sky above the tree was colorless and was blinding.
She could hear the swoosh of a birds wings coming closer and her eyes adjusted in time to see a huge hawk as it landed beside her in the tree.
The spider and the child told the story to the hawk, of her search for something for her friends, the small birds and insects of the forest.
The hawk told the child to climb on its back and she did, without hesitation, and the hawk spread his wings and flew off.
He knew the only one who could solve such a problem and he headed straight up and into the blank sky.
The child felt the power and protection of the hawk and fell to sleep, nestled in his broad neck feathers and dreamed a dream inside her dream.
The hawk came to rest on a tall mountain top, high above the clouds of the world below.
The child slowly was helped down and told to go into the cave that sparkled like a star, so she went off along a rocky trail until she saw it…
A cave so beautiful it sparkled like the night sky full of twinkling stars. The child couldn’t believe her eyes.
In the cave sat a small woman on a blanket of white buffalo hide, her eyes twinkled with a loving energy and his hair was as white as snow. She looked up softly smiling at the small child.
She walked over and the woman held out her hand and the child put her tiny hand in hers.
“What a small child to be carrying such a huge burden for your small animal friends,” the woman spoke in a quiet, even voice. “The love in your heart and the purity of that love has brought you to me, I am pleased.”
The small child was amazed the woman knew of her journey and her desire to help the small creatures of the forest. The child smiled.
The woman told the child to sit beside her and they would think together. All of a sudden rainbows began to emanate from the cave walls and circled the two.
The woman took a paintbrush from her cloak and captured the rainbows. She handed the brush to the child.
Next she waved her hands in the air and the sweetest smell filled the cave and she reached in her sleeve and pulled out a jar and captured the sweetness in the bottle and tightly closed the lid. She handed the jar to the child.
The child looked up at the small woman standing now before her. She reached out and touched her cloak and she spoke in a soft voice, “take these and go back to the forest and seek out the spider, she has the power to create and will need to instruct you on how to use these to help your tiny friends,” and in a burst of golden light she disappeared.
The child looked at the paintbrush and the bottle with wonder and returned to the hawk who quickly took flight.
Returning to the tree top, the small child thanked the hawk and he spread his broad wings and flew into the empty sky.
A small voice woke the child from her dream. Was anything the child remembered real? She put her hand in her bag there they were, the paintbrush and the jar.
“Oh spider, I am so glad you waited,” said the child.
The child told the spider the dream she thought she had but here were the items the small woman gave to her.
The spider laughed, “oh small human, you have met The Great Spirit Guru, she is the creator of all things, even you. Allow me to show you how to solve your problem,” and with that, the spider took the paintbrush and thought hard as she used the paintbrush to paint the sky blue and added a few white clouds.
The child watched in wonderment as the emptiness was transformed into a beautiful sky. She took the brush, and following the spiders instruction, thought hard and painted a brilliant sun. She giggled with delight.
The spider then helped the child back to the earth and she wandered back to her small forest.
She walked over to a green bush and with the paintbrush, painted a small object on it, then took the jar and poured out some of the sweet smell. She repeated this over and over again on trees, bushes and vines.
“I have been to see The Creator of us all,” said the child to her small animal friends. “The spider and hawk helped me to find the answer by taking me to her cave.”
The small animals, birds and insects circled the child and watched as she took out the paintbrush and thought hard, the answer came to her, like in her dream.
The small animals, birds and insects of the forest watched for days and days as the child worked.
She finished late in June, the time of the long, hot days.
The sweet smell of these beautiful things she created fill the air and the bees and birds were instantly drawn to them. Each was filled with nectar for the birds and pollen for the bees. Other small animals also delighted in this new thing.
One night, all the animals gathered around the small child in celebration and gazed up into the night sky.
The hawk and spider joined in the celebration.
The animals, birds and insects, all fulfilled, asked the child what was this life giving sweet thing she created?
The child looked to the spider for a creative name…
“I will call it a flower,” answered the child, after long deep thought.
The warmth of the sun
Thaws my frozen heart to the splendor of the spring
The birds sing wildly
Searching for a mate
My bare skin…Bronzed from this life giving source
A stirring deep inside
Beckons me to be free
Love returns to my weary soul
A calmness of immense silence settles in
The day has begun
Welcome to my morning
I awoke today, not sure if I was hot or cold, half under the pile of comfy covers, pillows cradling my head. I laid still with my eyes closed, listening to the cactus wrens calling back and forth. There’s a heavy smell of dew in the air which makes the dust layer smell sweet, like fresh dug dirt. The fans that keep us comfortable all night, are still whirring silently in the background. Gandaulf rustles and turns over with a huge sigh. It’s morning in El Pescadero, Baja California Sur.
I sit up, rub my eyes, and peel off the layers of blankets, fluff my pillows and sit bleary eyed for a second before the alarm goes off. It’s Easter Sunday and the washboard road below camp is strangely quiet. The sun is now high in the morning sky which reveals the dark shadows of the marine layer clinging to the shoreline, obscuring the wave break. The sky above is clear blue and hurries the fog away with the help of the blazing sun. It’s gonna be a hot, humid day.
Gandaulf greets me with a smile, kisses and flops over for belly rubs, then bounds across the bed and onto the cabinet, waiting patiently to be set down on the floor. The door is flung open and out hops Gandaulf and in floods the damp morning air.
The humidity immediately makes my bare skin feel damp and clammy. I take a deep breath and welcome the day.
I can smell the coffee wafting through the heavy morning air. Just the smell energizes my senses. I pull on some loose fitting clothes, since everything is damp, and step into the sun. There is no mistaking that we are closer to the equatorial sun. My bare skin feels the intense heat and I quickly retreat to shade. Chris and Gandaulf are nowhere to be seen so I stare off into nothingness and I drift away.
I begin daydreaming. This last month has been an exploratory journey for us. Why we ever feared crossing the border is beyond me. Perhaps it was the fear of the unknown, the language barrier, if I am honest…it was just plain fear. Fear of what, I now ask myself, having reached the southern tip of Baja without any major incidents.
In all my wildest dreams, I never thought the day would come when I could escape the cold, follow the sun, be a free spirit and not worry about ‘what’s next?’ I feel that I deserve this slice of peaceful life. A full life…full of new experiences, new friends, new places, new joy and triumph over anything I allowed to hold me back.
I look at our tiny home and feel a sense of pride. It has been our home for ten months. Our blood, sweat and tears poured into this metal shell. It’s everything we have…it’s all we need, beside each other.
Talk today is of a bike ride to the beach. The roads are dusty and extremely washboarded. The temperature is forecast for 79 degrees, typical breezy afternoon and humidity hanging around 50%, a beautiful day for beach exploring. It’s Easter Sunday and we are hoping the locals will stay home.
The southern coastal beaches of Baja are mostly devoid of shells. The waves line up in sets of three, breaking in rolling tubes of froth and foam. The thunderous crashing waves draw the brave and foolish to tempt their fate riding these angry tubes of water on surfboards. It makes for an engaging hour of fun to just observe their antics.
We are now in the middle of Samanto Santos or Holy Week. It is similar to Spring Break. This year, COVID still holds a tight grip on the country, so the Federal government put out guidelines to help quell the outbreak due to hordes of partiers and beach goers. They have closed beaches to camping, limited the capacity and close them at 7:00 pm. It’s just strange to see ample space to walk around the small pods of families and friends claiming their personal space. The sound of Mexican polka music hangs on the air, pumped from huge speakers brought to the beach. The atmosphere is light and jovial.
We find a small patch of sand, at the edge of the tide line, and sit down to be silent observers of the surf, screaming and laughing children running up and down the beach as the wave rolls in. Body surfers being ground into the beach as the wave unleashes on top of them. Dogs dancing with the water, bounding in gazelle-like leaps, barking wildly with joy.
I soon find myself lost in the emptiness of the vast ocean and sky, each blending into the other in the deepest blue imaginable. I am at rest, calm, at peace with all around me. I can feel the fury of the waves, the intensity of the sun, and the endlessness of the cloudless sky. I begin to float and feel weightless, a oneness with the vibrant energy surrounding my empty shell, as my awareness is freed from the constraints of my body. I drift in a state of primal awareness, energized by the enormity of this space. A movement across the waves returns me to the beach. I watch as a pelican glides along, inches from the waves, never breaking the surface of the water. I grab a handful of warm sand, dig my toes in and release an audible sigh.
One day, sitting on the soft sand beach, minding her own business making dribble castles in the sand, a small child saw a seagull trying to open up a big snail shell.
“What are you doing “, kindly asked the little girl.
The creator has played a trick on us. “He’s given us these succulent snails…one would feed me and my family. I just can’t figure out how to break these tough shells.
The child thought, “I’ve used sticks and other sharp things,” she said.
“Great for you,” he squawked, in only the way a seagull can. “You have hands and are strong.”
The child thought again.
Hours seemed to pass and the two sat on the edge of the beach and thought hard together.
They stopped the pelican as he flew by, “do you know how the seagull can enjoy these delicious snails?”
The pelican laughed and explained he ate only fish and dropped down on them from very high in the sky.
Next they stopped the osprey…he explained he also only ate fish and spotted them from high in the sky, then would dive straight into the water. He flew off being of no help to the child or seagull.
Soon an otter came swimming by tangled up in the seaweed and rolling around a couple of rocks.
“Oh Otter of the sea, how do you break open the clams and spiny urchins you enjoy?”
The otter playfully answered, “why with rocks of course.”
The three of them sat down on a gigantic rock and starring into the sky and at the drifting clouds.
All at once a raven flew by and saw the three.
“What seems to be the problem?” he quizzed the three.
The child explained the raven the seagull’s dilemma.
The raven laughed out load, “that’s a simple problem to solve,” as he flew high into the sky with the snail.
The seagull got angry and was about to fly after him when he let go of the snail.
It fell to the rocky shore with a loud crack!
The raven flew back and asked the seagull what he was waiting for.
The four of them went over to where the snail had fallen and there before them…was the snail cracked wide open.
The child giggled.
Between all the birds and the otter, the raven had used a bit from them all.
The seagull gathered up all the snails it could find before the tide came in.
The otter swam deep into the kelp and brought a tasty bunch of clams.
The raven brought an ear of corn.
The child starred with delight at this huge feast.
All her new animal friends shared in the feast and all nestled down and fell fast asleep.
In the morning, the child woke to the otter cradling her in her arms.
The child thanked the otter and wandered back into the woods.