Hello again from the last frontier!
A quick note to any new readers: Welcome! I’m sure glad you’ve found the Coconut Chronicles and hope you enjoy my ramblings enough to come back again. I post a new Chronicle once per week, I try for Sunday or Monday but, being a traveler, that is not always possible. This week I am posting early as I will be competing in a tennis tournament tomorrow and what with the victory celebration they’ll be throwing for me and all I’m sure I won’t have time to write! (The preceding was a joke, the victory celebration part, that is.) Anyway, welcome again, now back to my regularly scheduled Chronicle already in progress…
Those of you expecting the usual barrage of tales of our Baja adventures may be sadly disappointed this year. The purpose, ostensibly, of this little jaunt down to Mexico is for me to complete my novel in an environment that offers enough stimulation to keep the Prez out of my hair while I do so. Yes, this is a working vacation. But please, put down your Kleenex and dry your tears, I am still finding enough time to enjoy myself and get out of the writing cave to expose my pigmentaly challenged skin to that shiny orb in the sky. However, just because I’m not doing anything interesting doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to say! (Cue the groan from the audience)
While taking a shower (if you’re underage, please close your eyes during this part) in a stream of water that was slightly more than a trickle but definitely less than a spray, I considered one of the reasons I like coming to Posada – it’s humbling. And oh boy don’t we all in North America need a good humbling from time to time. For those of you who have never been here before (the rest of you can go fetch a snack during this part), let me tell you a little bit about where I am.
About 900 km (that’s 650 miles if you don’t know the metric system, yes using units of ten is a difficult concept, I know) down the Baja California Peninsula, on the Sea of Cortez side, is a large, sheltered bay called Bahia de Concepcion “The Bay of Conception”. No, this is not where young couples come to try and have a baby (although I’m sure lots of that goes on); this conception refers to our finny little friends – the fish. This bay is where adult fish come to lay their eggs in safe, nutrient rich water. It is also a type of nursery for juvenile fish who can grow up relatively protected, until their parents tell them to get their lazy asses off their Sargasso beds and go find a job out in the big world. It is a magical place, the bay, and is dotted with many beaches and circled by mountains on all sides.
One of these beaches, Posada Concepcion, was owned by a Mexican named Herman Morantes Sr. (He was dead before my arrival but reports of his character vary from ‘astute business man’ to ‘filthy pervert’). Herman Senior started a trailer park for gringos providing water, electricity and a sewage system all on the waterfront splendor of the Bahia de Concepcion. “If you build it, the gringos will come!” Yes the gringos came and they loved it, so they stayed. They built shelters around their travel trailers which now would remain permanently moored on the sand. This would eliminate ten percent of the absolute terror that must have existed on the drive down Hwy Mex 1 at that time.*Even in the seven plus years I’ve been coming down here the hwy has undergone huge improvements. My hair actually used to be black but changed to stark white after the first year we drove down here in a truck and camper towing a 25ft boat. These trailer shelters are known as Palapas and are made of dried palm leaves and wood from the Cardon cactus. A palapa provides excellent shade during the hot months while still allowing good air flow, during the winter it functions as shelter from the wind…they are also highly flammable.
A few years and few fires later, the snowbird crowd decided, heck, we spend most of our year here, why don’t we build some real homes? And so they did. The lack of building codes and inspections made possible a community that was a true reflection of the character of each individual – it also created a wiring and plumbing system that would have North American developers running for the hills, or for a lawyer, whichever came first. You see, the park electricity is provided by a diesel generator (10am to 10pm, I dare you to try and stay up past 10pm after one week here!) and was designed, after all, for trailers not homes with dishwashers and dryers and microwaves and computers…oops, shooting myself in the foot here. Water for the park is delivered by truck and stored in a large pila up on the hill. Remember, despite the fact that we are on a bay, we are still very much in the desert. Water consumption is meant to err on the side of conservation; some folks are good about this, others not so much.
The nearest town, Mulege (pronounced Moo-leh-hay), is about a thirty minute drive away and don’t be looking for any Wal Marts when you get there. And although the local stores bring in more and more goods every year, selection is still limited and quality is often questionable (I found that the Mexican “W-Tips” did not work quite as well as Q-Tips, I haven’t tried the “WD-50” or the “Nelsens Hot Chocolate” yet but I have my doubts about them as well). Until a few years ago, communication with the outside world was limited to the one fax machine in town or the very expensive payphones. Praise be to Internet!!
Our particular casa, cleverly named “The 30th Palm”, belongs to Miz Liz of 29 Palms (get it?) who has been generous enough to let us bums hang out here for a few months. The 30th Palm is one of the few original palapa dwellings left in the park. It has been around for over twenty years and was featured in “Trailer Life Magazine” shortly after its construction. The vaulted ceiling (doesn’t that sound fancy?) is made of palm leaves laid over wooden beams. The perimeter is supported by rock walls of different heights with the upper bits comprised of wooden beams and patati flaps (some which open and function as windows). Dividing walls for rooms are all palm and wood. The floor is cement covered entirely by a carpet of intricately woven squares made from palm leaves! We know the location of every fire extinguisher on the premises. There is a work room, a large master bedroom (with a small kitchen in the back), a bathroom, a smaller guest bedroom, living room and kitchen. Plenty of room for Prez and me plus one tubby, grumpy cat.
Now we get to the “humble” part…kind of…well, very soon…
Baja is not for everyone, but I think everyone should come to Baja at least once (not all at once though, it simply isn’t big enough). If nothing else, you will go home knowing that you’ve actually got it very, very good up north. And when I say “Baja” I don’t mean Tijuana, Ensenada or Cabo, I mean the real Baja – the big chunk in between those cities.
Here in Posada you accept certain truths to be self evident, such as the fact that the further you get from the water pila, the less water pressure you’re going to have (please refer to the 1st sentence of the 3rd paragraph). And sometimes the park will run out of water completely which means sponge baths using heated drinking water. If you’re making dinner and suddenly realize, Egads, I’m out of eggs! there is no popping down to the corner store to get some, the best you can do is ask around- so you better be nice to your neighbours! There are no movie theaters, Starbucks, fitness centers, or McDonalds here. No phones either, which means no 911 so you’d better learn to be self reliant and carry a first aid kit. Board of health? Please. You eats the tacos you takes your chances. Oh but they’re good, they’re sooooooo good (the author pauses to wipe trail of drool from her chin). Out here on the last frontier you learn to roll with the punches and appreciate what little luxuries come your way (Hey there’s a pizza place in town now that will actually deliver out here with a big enough order!! You just have to go into town to order it first, hmmmm). And, if you are like me, you start to realize all the things you take for granted back in “Civilization”, things that most people in the world will never have. True, I may not have much water pressure in my shower but I have a shower with real running water. I can have a shower every day (almost) if I want; aren’t I lucky?
What we do have is water at our doorstep, aquamarine and turquoise, with pelicans gliding inches above the surface. We have stars, lots and lots of stars. Yes, you can really see the Milky Way! We have a community where everyone knows everyone; people look out for one another and do things together. We have miles of desert and mountains to explore without signs warning “No Dogs! No Fires! No Fun!” We have oranges picked ripe from the tree and fish caught fresh from the sea. We have friends and love and laughter. The Prez would probably like to add that we have fireworks, really, really BIG fireworks!
And we have humility.
Until next week, I hope this finds you happy, healthy and lovin’ life!
P.S. – I’d like to ask everyone to send out lots of good healing energy to our friend Anna Banana who’s had a really rough bout of the flu/pneumonia for well over three weeks! Get well Banana!!!