December 31, 2007


Happy New Year!

Enjoy the random photos.

December 23, 2007

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December 21, 2007

Going Under

We went for a sunrise scuba dive south of Ensenada Blanca with our friends Nancy and Chris from El Santuario. We loaded up kayaks with tanks and gear and paddled south along the coast to a secluded beach surrounded by cliffs. After a short refresher and equipment check, Nancy and I descended right next to a beautiful painted moray eel. We saw lots of reef fish: jacks, angels, triggers, damsels, and the largest parrot fish I've ever seen.

Arnoud and Chris went second and Chris swears he saw a reef shark, but Arnoud missed it. Humphrey didn't get to go, but he enjoyed the kayak ride! It was a beautiful morning and so much fun to get back under the surface.

Now we've moved south of La Paz to a bay called La Ventana which, as you might expect from the name, is famous for it's wind. It's a huge campground that is taken over by windsurfers and kiteboarders from December to March. It's not quite as remote as our last camp, but there's a lot more to do.

On Arnoud's first day back on his windsurf board, he snapped his mast in half way out. After an hour and a half of swimming, a kiteboarder finally took pity on him and dragged him to shore. In gratitude, I decided to learn kiteboarding. Watch out sunbathers, I'm coming and I've got a 9 meter kite strapped to my waist!

I've been taking lessons with Nat Lincoln from Edge Kiteboarding School. After a lot of theory and practice on shore with a little training kite, I finally got to go in the water yesterday, although I didn't get to take my board. I started up on the north side of the bay and dragged myself all the way south (about 3/4 of a mile) using a 6 meter kite. It was a lot of fun, although there's still water dripping out of my nose 24 hours later.

Arnoud's been a bit quicker with picking up the sport (darn him!) and took out a board yesterday. After a couple of mishaps and unintentional kite loops, he managed to stand up -- only to fall right back down... I would have laughed a little evil laugh to see that, but I was busy "tea bagging" my way down the bay (and no, you dirty people, not that kind of tea bagging!)

Humphrey, mean while, has learned a new sport too; he's finally mastered fetch and wants to practice all the time.

Other than our new extreme sports, we're practicing mostly relaxed activities. We bought a paddle and put my huge windsurf board to better use as a stand up paddle board for dawn balancing acts(photos soon.) Arnoud's been making lots of beautiful rock piles. And of course sunset is a spectator sport.

December 8, 2007

What a Wild Life!

The most amazing thing happened yesterday: We had breakfast sitting on the beach. It's was a totally calm day, with not a breeze or a wave in sight. I walked down to the water's edge with Humphrey and looked out to sea and all of a sudden a dolphin breached. He couldn't have been more than 20 feet out, in thigh deep water. And then another dolphin breached right next to the first, and bait fish started jumping out of the glassy water. I walked along the shore and watched as the two dolphins swam, sliding up out of the water every couple feet, all the way south along the beach and around the corner.

Today we went fishing with our neighbor and caught a bunch of big sierras (a kind of mackerel.) On our way back to the beach, we were followed by a sea lion who wanted to see if he could beg a few of our catch. We saw osprey hunting and manta rays jumping out of the water.

For lunch we had a ceviche of very fresh sierra plus a few giant diver scallops (almost as big as my palm) from some of the local guys. As we sat on the beach afterwards, enjoying a siesta break, we watched pelicans hunting, stitching the water in synchronized patterns, and herons wading around in the shallows looking for their own lunch.

Sorry about the silly title of this post, but it's been an amazing 24 hours down here, although according to our "neighbors", it's all perfectly normal. And about that stingray experience that so many of you have expressed concern about: It turns out that what we stepped on were probably skates or flounders or something like that. The local fishermen laughed at our stingray fears. And we went snorkeling on this beach yesterday and didn't see a single ray, so I think we're safe. I even went out windsurfing (and fell a lot!) without fear.

Single Track in Baja

We've moved into a camp on the beach, south of Loreto, near a pueblo called Ligui. We're in the dunes behind the beach, in a little stand of some sort of manzanita. It's shady and private and smells wonderfully of sea and heat and some sort of desert plant I haven't been able to identify. We're sleeping in our tent with a screen roof, so we wake up to see hummingbirds buzzing past and go to sleep with the stars above our heads. There are more shooting stars here than I've ever seen before, and they are big and fat and fall lazily.

Arnoud went windsurfing the other day, but it's still and quiet now. We may go out on our neighbors little boat to go fishing instead today, although he went out yesterday and only caught one small needlefish. We went for a long mountain bike ride yesterday, up an arroyo and over a saddle to a viewpoint of the sea, looking down towards "our beach." Humphrey ran along beside us the whole way and had a great time. He did well, but was tired last night. As was I, so we slept while Arnoud played dominoes with some of his friends from Point Reyes who are down here.

Adventures on the Water

We went windsurfing the other day. Arnoud did a few good laps and then it was my turn. I climbed up on the board and sailed right off… for about 15 feet before I did a very graceful butt flop. The water was still only thigh high, so I stood up to climb back onto my board and stepped on something slippery and moving! So I did what any self-respecting woman would do — I let out a high pitched shriek and leapt all the way on top of my board. As I screamed to Arnoud what had happened, he jumped straight up at least a foot and a half because he had stepped on one too. And so we found out there are stingrays in the Loreto Bay. Needless to say, we swam straight back to the beach without letting our feet touch the sand and cut our windsurf session short. We’ll have to go somewhere a bit deeper next time.
We spent a day on the water with Romeo Cota, the mayor of the pueblo from which we are hoping to purchase land. We went out to “our beach” and visited. It really is beautiful and peaceful and dramatic all at once.
Afterwards, we took Humphrey and the mountain bikes for a ride on the cow trails between beaches and ended up at El Santuario where some of Arnoud’s former coworkers from Blue Waters Kayak are hanging out and waiting for their kayak guide work to start. There’s a really beautiful beach there with free (no facility) camping that we’ve decided to move to. I’ve arranged with a nearby hotel and rv park to sit by their pool and use their wifi everyday, a tropical office. We’ll be much happier living on a beach than here in town, although it will be a bit less convenient and we won’t get fresh tortillas and aguas frescas everyday.

Travelling South

We’ve had a longer than hoped for trip down, but it’s been relatively smooth sailing all the way. So much to tell you all…
We stopped in San Diego after a marathon, all-night drive. We stayed with Jorden (Arnoud’s friend from Boxtel, he was at our wedding) and Kristin. Had a lovely time there and got to see their new house as well as a bit of the city and Coronado. San Diego dogs have it great and Humphrey had a blast on one of the many dog friendly beaches as well as at happy hour at an outdoor bar with a spectacular view across the bay to the SD skyline. We stayed with Jorden and Kristin for Thanksgiving. Kristin made us a fantastic roast chicken, Arnoud made mulled wine (”gluhwein”). It was all so cozy that it made it a bit easier not to be with all my family. Thanks Jorden and Kristin!
We left for the border on Friday and almost made it to Ensenada before dark. We ended up at a campground where a surf contest was going to happen the next morning so we met lots of cool So Cal surfer dudes. Humphrey found out that in Mexico there are no leash laws and everything smells so fantastically bad!
On Saturday we finally made some real tracks, all the way into the desert highlands. Lots of boulders and weird Dr Seussian plants — it was spectacularly beautiful even before the sun set and the full moon rose. We started driving before dawn on Sunday, so we also got to see a sunrise over the desert. We took tons of photos — it was just unsettlingly beautiful! Unfortunately, Humphrey had his first encounter with a cactus and cried all the way back to the camper. He spent the rest of the morning pouting and resenting us for dragging him all the way down to this god-forsaken prickly place.

We made tracks further south all day and ended up on beautiful Playa Requeson where we watched the sunset and Humphrey made a little friend and decided that he likes Baja after all.