Tuesday, April 17, 2012

More about Full Baja Mode

Our friend Charlie sent us this note:

"What is full Baja mode?
After spending much time in Mexico, to me it spells indolence.
What is it to two super intelligent and motivated gringos?
Happy sailing"

Made us think – how do we spend our days? They seem to fly by.

Hiking, climbing the headlands and exploring shorelines. Taking photographs, like the one above, and later editing the photos.

Paddling in the kayaks, which can take us to beaches, rocks, and coves that seem  undiscovered.

Swimming and snorkeling, especially the past week, when our friend Linnea has been traveling with us. She and the Captain have been spending long stretches snorkeling along the rocky shores. The water in the Sea of Cortez remains cool – 60 degrees this morning – so wet suits are the ticket.

Painting and sketching. The mate has figured out some easier ways to set up gear to work on paintings on the boat. Here are two current paintings under review in the cockpit.

Cooking and baking. Full Baja mode means we seldom have access to a grocery store, so we are baking our own bread, and stretching the fresh produce out over ten days or two weeks. We've adopted an ambitious goal of learning how to use the unfamiliar Mexican fruits and vegetables, like the tomatillos above.

Sailing and traveling. Yesterday we had a boisterous downwind sail in 15 to 25 knots of wind, traveling from San Juanico to Ballandra Bay on Isla Carmen.

Oh, and then assembling, disassembling, cleaning up, stowing, rearranging, and maintaining all the gear needed to do the above.  If we were really super intelligent, maybe we wouldn't be expending the extra time and effort necessary to live on a boat.  But indolent - we don't think so!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Baja Mode

We are easing into full Baja mode, with days and nights at anchor under clear skies.  Like any campers, we adapt to distance from grocery stores and supplies, and appreciate the sunsets, sunrises, and  - during this last full moon – moonrise and moonset.

We sailed to the anchorage called San Juanico last Wednesday, and stayed there for four days. The beaches along this bay were festive with large groups of Mexican campers celebrating their holidays during Semana Santa – the week between Palm Sunday and Easter.  We kayaked and hiked the shorelines. But we especially liked watching the large Mexican family groups swim, fish, and explore the bay.  Above – a photo of one jolly man with his sons and nephews fishing in the fading evening light. 

Full Baja mode also means we are cooking more of our food from scratch. If you have  followed this blog for several years (bless you, patient friend), you will know about bread baked in our very small oven, in our even smaller 2 quart enameled cast iron casserole.  Each year, depending on many variables - the flour we can buy, the climate, and the yeast we are using – we have to experiment to figure out how to make great bread.  I think we have hit our stride for this year, as shown in the photo above. 

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

More at The Mexico Recipes

More recipes have been posted at The Mexico Recipes. Hope you will check them out, and be inspired to try one or two. Send us your recipes or thoughts!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A Break from the Boat

We took a two day break from the boat, rented a car, and delivered our departing crew to the Loreto bus station. After a fine breakfast in Loreto, we drove 23 miles straight up into the Sierra de la Giganta in order to visit the tiny town of San Javier.  The road was remarkable – both the first fourteen miles, which have just been improved and paved, and the last nine, which are under construction. Paved or not, the road winds, climbs, curves, and descends over the rough mountains with third world enthusiasm. Grades that steep and turns so tight have pretty much been removed from the byways of the US and Canada.

San Javier is the location of a mission first established by the Spanish in 1699. The current church and mission building were built in the mid-18th century, and are beautifully preserved, and carefully tended by the locals. Because this is Semana Santa - the week between Palm Sunday and Easter - the church was alive with locals and visitors, nearly all Mexican. Large family groups were strolling in the tiny village, and lots of kids ran around, which gave the  place a festive air.  

San Javier is in a mountain valley where a small river flows; a dam just above the town delivers water to each property, and virtually all of the houses were surrounded by lush gardens. We were astonished and charmed to find this jewel of a settlement in the midst of the Baja mountains, and glad to have an opportunity to see something of the inland part of the Baja Peninsula.

To round out our break from boat travel, we drove back from San Javier to Loreto, and checked into the Inn at Loreto Bay, a hotel constructed within the last ten years in a beautiful location about ten miles south of Loreto.  Our first priority was internet and cell phone coverage in order to to business. The fact that the hotel is beautifully designed and sited were just icing on the cake.  Quite a contrast in architecture between the 18th century mission and the 21st century hotel!

Around Isla Carmen

Over the past week, we made a trip around Isla Carmen. We were favored with good crew – the Captain’s cousin, Antoinette – and great weather. We were able to make some good hikes. One of the best was from Ensenada Ballandra. The little canyon and watercourse that lead back into the Island has plentiful vegetation, and we saw lots of birds, including this bold Cardinal, which sat so still for my camera.

We anchored at Punta Prieta and at Punta Colorado on the west side of the island, and made a stop between them at Bahia Salinas. A hunting resort now occupies some of the buildings remaining from the time when there was an active salt works at this location. The island supports a population of the mountain sheep native to the Baja mountains, and hunters pay handsomely for the experience of stalking and shooting these rare animals.

There are other buildings which have fallen into fading ruin.

We hiked inland to look at the salt flats, which show odd colors and patterns in the remains of the ponds.

It speaks to the fine weather that a location this remote and austere can look so beautiful.