Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What happens in Cabo...

Emma Gilchrist nails it: Cabo is a party animal, and Todos Santos/Pescadero is a hippie.

In El Pescadero, we live a five-minute walk from Cerritos Beach, which is featured in Gilchrist's article. We also live within walking distance of San Pedrito beach.

San Pedrito

San Pedrito is isolated and wild. We can walk for miles and see few people, even though there are some homes within view. Cerritos has a restaurant and bar that sometimes hosts live music, massage tables, and--as the article shows--horses hanging out if you feel like renting one for a saunter through the sand.

Even so, Cerritos and the nearby Pueblo Magico of Todos Santos are indeed laid-back hippies, chillin' out in peace and quiet, compared to the party animal action of Cabo, which is an hour south of us.

We just spent a few days in Cabo with our friend Jimmy, who has a house there. Or more of a compound, with  multiple units that he's remodeling.

Jimmy's compound

Jimmy and Dave in the compound's open-air kitchen.
It was cool staying in a locals neighborhood. Most visitors stay in resorts and see just the main strip. We came in through the back door. One morning, Dave and I walked about ten blocks through the 'hood, just checking things out.

A few blocks from tourist central.
Jimmy drove us through the exclusive Pedegral neighborhood, climbing in the car up bumpy cobblestone streets. We saw outrageous views and mansions the size of exclusive resorts brimming from the mountainside.

Pedregal view
 At Los Deseos in the Golden Zone of Cabo Marina, we ate tres quesos fundido. As a lover of cheese to rival Wallace, I watched enthralled as the waiter placed three different types of cheese into an oven-hot molcajete. As the cheese melted, he poured in tequila then lit it so it flamed up.  Next he scooped portions of the gooey mess into thick corn tortillas.

The died-and-gone-to-heaven tres quesos looked something like this.

At Arts & Sushi, Jimmy introduced us to the No Name Roll, a sushi roll that has to be eaten to be believed. For yummy dessert and coffee, we went to Señor Sweets.

Eating the No Name with Jimmy, Pete and Chrissy.
And yes, we did experience the party animal milieu at places such as Medano Beach, where people sit on swings at the bar and where drinks are always two-for-one...that is, when you order booze. My lemonade arrived solo.

Party animal hanging out at Medano Beach.
At night, we wandered the streets through reveling crowds. The atmosphere had a Vegas tinge. In the infamous Cabo Wabo, people danced on the bar to the blasting music. And not just any people: most of them were probably in their sixties and above. If I joined in, I would have been the young 'un--not my usual pace in partying crowds. Who said only young people get in the Spring Break spirit? Perhaps Cabo contains the magic of the swimming pool in Cocoon.

At the outdoor bar of Cabo Blue, I boogied to the band--a group of guys in their twenties playing 1970s classic rock. Nice to see the younger generation keeping our tunes alive!

We had a few more experiences I'm not going to write about in this blog. What happens in Cabo stays in Cabo. (Although I will probably write about it in my next book. Stay tuned.)


Monday, January 12, 2015

Are Things Going Wrong or Right?

Viva Mexico!
For a week I've been checking the electrical company online to see if we owed money. Yesterday I saw there was a balance listed even though we'd received no bill. I tried to pay online with my credit card, but the system would have none if it.

I called our credit card company (with the fabulous MagicJack that allows you to make free internet phone calls), and they said there was nothing wrong on their end.

So today we drove 10 minutes to downtown Todos Santos to pay the bill in person. When we arrived, we found the office filled with construction workers, open beams, and not much else. I'm not sure if they were remodeling because of Hurricane Odile destruction, but it was clear there would be no paying a bill there.

I pulled out my Mexi cell phone. It suddenly had a mind of its own, blocking me from making calls to certain people. I was able to get through to a friend who suggested I go to the local bookstore, where the owner "knows everything." The bookstore woman directed us to a trailer down the street, in the parking lot of the Hotel California.

When we walked into the trailer, I asked the woman behind the desk, "Habla ingles?"

She fixed me with a cold stare and said, "No."

I fumbled around with my Spanish, trying to explain what I wanted. In a flurry of Spanish that might as well have been Arabic, she pointed outside to two pay machines that looked like ATMs.

Fortunately, a guy whose Spanish was a bit gentler (like his eyes) helped me out. He fed my pesos into the machine. He understood me when I asked in creaky Spanish if we could pay in advance for a few months. With a smile, he handed me the receipt.

Ah, Mexico. I'm getting better and better at not freaking out when things don't work the way I think they should. I'm developing more patience and more compassion.

I realized that walking into someone's office and asking, first thing, if they speak English puts them on the spot. If they don't, they have to--right away--admit there is something they don't know. And perhaps admit they can't help me. I've heard that Mexicans think it's rude to not help someone who needs it.

So next time I will start out doing my best with my Spanish. And if I hit a roadblock, I will apologize for not knowing enough Spanish. I've noticed whenever I do that, people smile and compliment me on what I do know. They like that I try. It's as though my use of Spanish suggests that I care about their culture and their country.

And I do. Even when things "go wrong." Or maybe, partly, because of that. The mañana spirit can mean that when things go wrong, they also go right.

Because of today's wild goose chase, I had the opportunity to practice more Spanish and to think about how I approach people. And because we couldn't pay online in the first place, we had to go into town.

That meant we "had" to go to our favorite sidewalk restaurant where, for just a few bucks, we ate melt-in-your-mouth fish tacos. Not a bad way to capitalize on a fiasco.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Life Force

Walking San Pedrito beach, I was thinking about the eternal nature of the ocean. The perpetual movement of the waves. Forward and back, forward and back.

And how, if you really pay attention, there's a pause in between. A sliver of silence, like the lull between breaths.

booby (credit)
But inevitably the wave is pulled down by gravity, sucked out, and returned. Just like our lungs, on their own accord, take and release the next breath.

I started to think about how I much I love this motion of life. The opposites, the polarities. In/out. Active/quiet. The waves of life.

A voice came into my head. Oh really? You love it ALL? Blossoming and withering? Life and death? You love that? It was as though an antagonistic TV pundit was jabbing his finger into my brain.

And what about Hitler? Love him?

I stopped and took a breath. Why does it always come down to that?

No, I don't love evil. Of course I don't.

The pundit smirked.

I've always felt the resistance in me when I sang along with the lines of the Byrds biblically-inspired song:

A time to kill, a time to heal...
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace

Those lyrics don't roll off the tongue as easily as:

A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together...

Instead of sprinting on the sand to escape my thoughts, I just let it all float in my mind. Killing, healing. Hitler...Viktor Frankl.

Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, believed there was meaning in all forms of existence. So is that what I mean by love? That bad things will happen but that, as Frankl says, we always have a choice about how to respond?

I thought about recent violence in the news. In the face of disaster--be it personal or global, be it human-made or borne from nature (like Baja's recent Hurricane Odile)--there's always an outpouring of creativity, solidarity and compassion.

I think that's what I love. But it's not a light love, a free-and-easy love. It's a mysterious love, a love of the messy bigger picture. It's a not-always-easy-to-maintain trust in the rhythms of life and the ultimate goodness, or maybe meaning, that we humans aspire to. It's a love of the enigmatic life force.

A few days ago, as I was walking on this very beach, a beautiful bird--a blue footed booby?--with pointy wings and beak sailed into my vision. It folded in its wings and feet then bee-lined into the water like a plunging knife. Seconds later, it lifted back into the air, a slash of silver writhing in its beak.

And then today as I walked the same beach in the almost exact same spot, a wave crashed at my feet. As it receded, I saw an uncanny thing. A silver, wriggling fish right at my toes. I picked up its slippery body and tossed it back into the water.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Writing and Giving in the New Year

This year I'm focusing on WRITING and GIVING.

To see it on Amazon, click here.

The rights to my first novel, For the May Queen, reverted to me. So with the help of the amazing Jan McCutcheon of Coyote Creek Press, a delicious new edition just came out. The gorgeous cover features a photo taken by Dave, a stargazer lily (from the garden of our Port Townsend, Washington housesit).

And in the spirit of my focus on giving, 10% of the profits of the sale of this book will go to Hogar del Niño, an orphanage here in Baja. 

In re-reading and revising the novel for its new release, I felt a tender spot in my heart for its focus on coming-of-age, sexuality and friendship. I can see how these topics continue to be obsessions of mine. Yet now I see how we "come of age" continually, throughout our lives. For life is transformation.

LIFE IS TRANSFORMATION. That is the heart of my new book, Arriving Again and Again: An Odyssey of Love, Sex, Spirit and Travel. This book will be birthed into the world in this new year. As will other opportunities to give. I'll keep you posted.

Happy New Year and Feliz Año Nuevo to you all. May you fill the blank pages of 2015 with the stories you want to tell...the love you want to spread...the YOU you want to create.