Saturday, December 27, 2008

La Paz in a Norther

We are enjoying our first weekend in La Paz, and our first opportunity to really explore the city. Coincidentally, La Paz is experiencing a Norther, a strong wind that arises with high pressure in the intermountain west of the US, and gains strength as it is funneled down through the Sea of Cortez. The wind here in the marina is gusting up into the low twenties, and we are rocking a bit. The many boats anchored out in the harbor are getting tossed around by the everchanging dance of wind and strong current. The temperatures are also a bit cooler, but no Oregonian could complain about temperatures of 75 degrees between Christmas and New Years. The Captain is laid up with a sore knee, and we are streaming the blues live from KPLU in Tacoma - always grateful to John Kessler, Blues DJ extraordinaire.
Christmas morning in La Paz was quiet, and we paddled the kayaks around the inner bay and along the mangroves on the low sandbar, known as the Magote, that encloses the inner harbor here. We saw this fine Ibis there.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sierra de la Laguna

We have just returned to La Paz and the boat after a weekend exploring the edges of the Sierra de la Laguna, the mountains that create the central spine of the tip of Baja California. We had driven around these mountains, which straddle the Tropic of Cancer, on a recent weekend road trip, and were interested. The mountains rise to over 7000 feet, get more rain than the surrounding desert, and have been declared a Biosphere Preserve. We read about the wide variety of plants that flourish here, and about palm trees, waterfalls, and trails.

With help from Linnea and Carlos, both acquaintances from school, we found all of the above - beautiful rivers and waterfalls, trails, and an amazing variety of green trees and shrubs. Since the peninsula is only about forty miles wide here, views from the mountains lead right to the ocean. We were able to swim in the river, and hike among beautiful rocks.
It is the winter solstice. Our friend, Jane Kyle, wrote to us from Portland, saying that they understand the solstice sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer*, and asking if they could please have it back. Portland is buried in ten inches of snow; our son Sam has been skiing down the steep streets around the corner from his house. No, amigos, we cannot send you the sun, but we do send you our love.

*Sailing friends, who have the big picture clearly in mind, point out that the solstice sun is over the Tropic of Capricorn, way down south of the equator. Even here in Mexico, the sun is low in the sky. Regardless, we can only send our wishes for better weather to friends and family in the Pacific Northwest.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Posadas, Pinatas, Pangas and Possibilities.....

December in La Paz has been anything but quiet. We have attended Spanish Class for four hours Monday through Friday, and filled the rest of the daylight hours with exploring this small city, shopping, cooking, and chores. The evenings go just as quickly, with Christmas lights in the cockpit, Spanish songs, and culinary experiments with chilis, tomatillos, and unfamiliar vegetables. Daily we make only tiny gains in our ability to speak Spanish, although it seems as if we can read and understand more easily.

December celebrations in La Paz have made the long winter evenings a festival of lights. Early December brought the celebrations for the Festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe, with dozens of small parades. Now we are embarked on a string of Christmas parties, called Posadas, that feature great food, and high spirits. The Pinata, stuffed with candy and other prizes, is an essential feature of each Posada, with blindfolded guests taking turns trying to hit and break open the Pinata.

We had a wonderful break from this routine when our friends Christian and Georgia came to visit. After a few days in La Paz, we took the boat back north twenty miles to the islands, and anchored again at Caleta Partida. We had three days of sunshine, kayaking, snorkeling, exploring on land, and an overall fine time.

Christian, who lived in Mexico as a young teenager, revived his excellent Spanish to talk with the local fisherman in his blue and white panga. It was hard times for the fisherman, because there was no market for the few fish he was catching this year. He was considering selling his panga to pay for a Christmas celebration.

Christian is about to begin his first full term as a Representative in the Oregon Legislature. And today we read that our college classmate, Jane Lubchenco, will be tapped by President elect Obama as head of NOAA. It is amazing to think that people we know to be energetic, intelligent, and far sighted will be participating in government, and beginning to tackle the immensely complex problems we face. We will be holding our breath and looking for small ways to help in the balancing act that will follow.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Our first week in La Paz has flown by like a shooting star. We have spent four hours a day in Spanish classes, and more hours learning our way around the city and catching up on chores and connections.
Mid week, we had three nights where we could see this wonderful convergance - the new moon in the west seemed to be hanging above Venus and Jupiter - beautiful from dusk and for several hours after dark. Although at the edge of the city, the sky here is comparatively clear and unpolluted. Click on the photo above to see the photo in more detail.
We have posted many more photos from the last six months of travel on Flickr. You can find the Flicker page by clicking on the link at the right that says "Photos from Indigo's Travels".

Monday, December 01, 2008

Old Friends in New Places

While kayaking along the south shore of Isla Partida, we came upon a dozen or so herons, along the waterline or perched up on the tumbled, eroded rock faces. We assumed immediately that they were an exotic, Mexican heron. But on close inspection, they turned out to be the familiar Great Blue Heron – Portland’s city bird!
Looking at the photo, you’ll have to admit that this isn’t the setting we Pacific Northwesterners are accustomed to. Red rock and cactus don’t immediately suggest Great Blue Herons.
Bird watching is a lazy man’s sport from a boat at anchor, and we spent one long afternoon watching an unfamiliar bird that fished by diving from great heights, straight down into the water like an arrow. After several hours of work with binoculars, bird books, and beer, we discovered we were watching Blue Footed Boobies. New friends in an exotic setting.