Archive | January, 2012


31 Jan

Okay, okay, settle down kiddies. Don’t everybody shout at once. I know this is a very unusual situation, so give me your attention and I’ll explain.


You’ll remember the post I wrote entitled, “Do you like dogs?” The day after I posted it, Richard and I were sitting in our seats eating our dinner, when we noticed 4 puppies playing in the surf. We both remembered hearing a vehicle that had come in sometime during the middle of the night. They were probably the owners of these little ones and believed if they dumped them here us beach folk would find homes for them like so many dogs before them.


Just hanging around

They were all different looking but obviously related; 2 were white with reddish colouration on their heads, one having the same coloured freckles all over, another was black and tan and the last one was chocolate brown and the only one with longish fur.


We have always kept a tub of fresh water outside the van, for any animals or birds that might be in need of water and we were hopeful these pups would smell it and come in for a drink, especially after we saw them lapping ocean water. However, they wouldn’t come near us, the van or the water and every attempt we made to get close to them ended in them running away. Obviously they had been traumatized to some extent and if they saw anyone they would immediately take off running.


There was a small get together a couple of days after the puppies arrived on the beach and we made sure everyone was made aware of them. We knew a couple of the folks on the beach would add them to their feeding rounds. These kind-hearted people purchase food and make sure that the strays, wild and abandoned dogs are fed and either try to get them into Animalandia, adopt them themselves or in some other way find them homes. I’ve been known to put out food once in a while myself, but the idea of adopting one of these grown animals had never crossed our minds.


Now, one of our neighbours on the beach, hadn’t been feeding any of the grown dogs on a regular basis, but could be seen once in a while laying pans of fish trimmings out for the fisherman’s dog. This couple couldn’t bring themselves to ignore the puppies, so they went out of their way to coax them in and make them believe people were safe and were the source of all good things, including food. It took a lot of work to gain their confidence but suffice it to say they were successful beyond their wildest dreams.


Small, pretty and smart

It wasn’t long before these 4 little girls, (it soon became apparent that all 4 were female, which is why they were probably dumped) became the darlings of the beach. They were well behaved, very smart and of course puppies. Let’s face it folks, mammal babies are designed to be cute and these 4 were no exception. Grown men with no interest in any of the wild dogs took to carrying treats in their pockets and everyone on the beach made a fuss of them.


The couple that was caring for these 4 puppies already had 3 dogs waiting for them at home and there was no way they could adopt any more. There seemed to be a concerted effort by a large percentage of the beach population to convince us to adopt one, but we held out. We explained that we lived in our RV full time and relied upon the sufferance of our children and their spouses to give us places to park when we got back to Canada, not to mention they both had dogs of their own. We didn’t feel that we could share what limited space we had with a pet, nor could we impose upon our kids to welcome another animal into the mix.


Everyone understood, but in the meantime, we were playing with these 4 lovely ladies, feeding them treats, watching them grow and were well aware of the problems being faced by our friends as they tried to do the best they could for these girls.


Posters were put up; announcements on the VHF radio net were made, everyone who gave the slightest hint of interest was approached, all to no avail, but hope was still held out as our friends daughter, and her boyfriend plus another couple were coming from Canada to visit for a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, plans were made to get the puppies to Animalandia, for spaying and possible adoption.


She seems to think she should be a lapdog too!

It seems it was love at first sight. Within the first week of the kids visiting, 3 of the puppies were spoken for. Our friends daughter would take one, her friend would take another and her Mother, on the strength of a photo, would take the third. That just left one, but since it was going into Animalandia we didn’t worry about it, until a piece of information came along that made us change our minds. It seems that Animalandia, like every other rescue operation operates on very limited funding, so if after spaying, the dog hasn’t been adopted within 3 months, they are tattooed and then released into the town in hopes they can survive on their own.


We thought long and hard about it, we had many conversations and I think we both said to ourselves that we didn’t want a dog but if the other one did well we could deal with it. Finally I said to Richard that I just couldn’t bear to see this lovely little dog abandoned once again on either our beach or in Loreto and maybe we could figure out how to make this work. I know he was hoping I’d say that because instantly she became our dog.


I was thinking maybe we’d call her Roja, which is Spanish for red, but he said no, when he had lived in Israel, one of his friends had an Irish Setter named Azeet and she had been poisoned. He swore at the time that if he ever had a dog he would name her Azeet, and so that became her name.


Just for all you Googlers out there, we hadn’t realized that Azeet was anything other than just a friend’s dog’s name. Apparently the Setter was named after “Azeet, the Paratrooper Dog” a series of books written for kids in Isreal, which, so we are told, was as famous there as Rin Tin Tin was here.


So there you have it, Azeet has joined our little family and though it’s taking a fair amount of adjustments on all our parts we all seem to be enjoying it. Living quarters just got a bit smaller, but the entertainment value has already made up for it, and if nothing else it means that we’ll be stopping a little more often on our travels. Woo hoo!


Just another stray needing a home.

Oh, and just so you know, dogs aren’t the only strays that end up on our beach. This little lady strolled into a small get together and proceeded to take over. The dogs sitting with us thought she’d make a great snack, and there was joking discussion of having a BBQ, but a couple of the ladies would have objected strongly so discussion turned to finding her a home. In the meantime, she made herself at home, drinking water put out for her and helping herself to the bird feed laying around, completely unfazed by the dogs. When we got up to go, she followed us back to our campsite and so became our problem. We had already adopted Azeet and weren’t in any position to adopt a goat so we decided to take her to the nearest goat rancher.

Richard managed to get her into the back of the Suzuki and the rancher, who was astounded that she was quite content standing in the back of the car was ever so happy to take her off our hands and put her in the pen with all the rest.


Just another day on Rattlesnake Beach!


Sunrise, Sunset

22 Jan


One of the things that those who travel to southern climes find the most difficult to convey to their otherwise appreciative audiences is the colours. I know that sounds very odd, but let me give you an example. On our first trip to Baja, we stayed at an absolutely beautiful beach called Ensenada Blanca, (White Cove). Our neighbours were a young artist and his wife, who travelled Mexico so that he could paint postcard size pictures of all the places they saw. He told us that his work sold well, but the biggest complaint he got from his customers was that he had obviously over emphasized the colours. People just wouldn’t believe that what he was painting were the actual colours he was seeing.


It probably has something to do with the difference in light refraction as one moves closer to the equator, maybe it also has to do with the desert and reflected light, I don’t really know, this is a science that I’m way out of my depth on. What I do know is that everything here, whether it’s natural or man-made has a colour vibrancy to it that doesn’t seem to exist in the cooler climes.

This seems to be true all over the world, Greece is full of bright colours, and England is not. The hotter the country, the brighter the colours. Hmm, the same can be said for the food, but that’s another story.


You’ve seen the colours I painted the interior of Grummy, well these simply reflect what I find myself surrounded by here every day. The homes in all the villages are a riot of every colour imaginable, the native clothing, (though that is slowly being replaced with “made in China” cheap crap, just like everywhere else) is the same with intricate, primary colours embroidered on creamy white cotton. Even the plant life, especially the Bougainvillea that grows everywhere, explodes with bright, vivid, zest.

Nature herself sets the example, with sunrises and sunsets. Sure I know these occur everywhere on earth, but down here they are so spectacular that we often have “Alerts”. This is when someone is so moved by what they see they call on the VHF radio to let everyone know that Nature is painting a new spectacular.


I’m pretty sure if I checked, I’d find that just about everyone who lives here or visits regularly, probably have hundreds of sunrise and sunset photos. I know of a couple of people who have albums that contain nothing but. Plus Nature never repeats herself, so each picture is a masterpiece of creation.


I have to admit, that the view we have is one many would pay a great deal of money for, but when I add in the palette of colour that nature uses to paint the mornings and evenings with, it takes my breath away. It makes me feel as if I have been given a glimpse into the awesome complexity of the infinite universe, yet at the same time makes me feel very, very insignificant. This is an almost impossible concept to explain, and photos really don’t show what the eye actually sees, but it’s all we have.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll simply let these photos speak for me. Perhaps it will give you a tiny glimpse into the desolate beauty of the Baja.

If you enjoy them let me know, I’ve got lots to share. Not only that but there’s lots of room down here on Rattlesnake Beach and all are welcome!

Got a few spare hours?

8 Jan

Hi folks, hope everyone had a very good Christmas and an excellent start to the New Year. We certainly did, but I still find it a little difficult to get used to not being with my kids and their growing families, not to mention the warm, sunny weather as opposed to the cold, wet and occasionally snowy crap we always got at home. There may not be a lot of Christmas decorations, lights or fir trees, but we sure do eat well. There seems to be a party just about every other day from the middle of December until February 2nd when the Mexicans officially call Christmas over. Made staying on my diet a really hard proposition, but I persevered!


Just another gorgeous Sunrise over the holidays

I’ve talked a lot about the view here, the festivals, the hikes, the fishing, the social activities, even the political landscape, but I don’t think I’ve explained what it’s actually like to physically function here.


How long does it take you to do the laundry, or go grocery shopping for example?


For the laundry, when I’m at home it takes a little over an hour to wash and dry a load or 30 minutes to wash and then however long it takes to hang it on a line, plus I can program the washing machine to add an extra rinse if I want.  Here, if you’re very lucky, it can take the same amount of time but more likely, it will take all day, sometimes 2. Here’s how. There are 4 places I can do my laundry, five, if I include washing it by hand, which means using up a lot of water in the tanks, wringing it out, then hanging it on the line. I can take my laundry to Puerto Escondido and, using their washing machines, I can do my own wash, for 33 pesos a load. Now I can’t dry my laundry there, (most of the time I prefer to dry it on a line anyways, but not always) as they have no propane, which heats the dryers. That means that there’s no hot water either, none for the wash and none for the showers that are available for 10 pesos.


Think about that for a minute, if you will. You can pay 10 pesos and have a cold shower. When they have propane, you can pay 20 pesos and have a hot shower, it all depends on if they have enough money to pay the fuel bills.  Lately, the Pemex hasn’t had any gasoline because the management running the Marina hasn’t been able to pay it’s bills, but that’s another story, back to the laundry.


One of many beach parties held over the holidays

The problem with the Puerto Escondido’s 3 machines is that they are small, used by a very large group of individuals and probably haven’t been cleaned since the day they were installed. They don’t clean very well if you try to wash a large load and they don’t rinse worth shit, nor can you personalize the program. This means that you wash more, smaller loads and some clothes need to be rinsed again when you get back to the camper. So you spend more money, you waste more water and if it takes too long, remembering that the staff doesn’t unlock the laundry room doors until sometime between 9 and 9:30 AM, and that you might have to wait in line for a machine, by the time the wash goes on the line, there may not be enough time for it to dry before the evening sets in.


The next option is to take it to Tripui Hotel, just down the road, where for 50 pesos a load, they will wash and, most of the time, dry your clothes, but the service is haphazard at best and you don’t get your clothes back until the next day.  Nothing like getting a bag of damp clothes back 24 hours after they’ve been washed!


Next, is the Juncolito option, a village about 3 kilometers north of us. If you can get your wash over to the village, then into the hands of Mr. Torres’ daughter, (Mr. Torres runs one of the original guided fishing outfits in the area and is very well known) she will wash it, dry it, fold and bag it for 50 pesos a load but again it won’t be ready until tomorrow. Since the village is too far to walk carrying a large load of laundry, this entails 2 car trips, 1 to drop it off, another to pick up as there is little traffic between the village and our beach.


The New Years Eve Soup party. An interesting concept, everyone brings their best soup!

Or you can send it into town to Elizabeth; she runs a Lavaderia or laundry in Loreto, about 25 kilometers away. On average, someone from the beach is driving into town for various reasons, every day, so everyone just checks in with Elizabeth as a matter of course. If Liz knows they’re from Rattlesnake Beach, she will hand over any and all bags due to go out to the campers. The charge is 50 pesos a load and the wash is ready the next day. The service includes wash, dry, fold and bag. However, if no one is going into town when your laundry is ready, you have to make a special trip in just to pick it up. This can entail blowing 2 entire days.


Now I have to say that the ladies who do the laundry service do an excellent job and there is something special about getting your clothes washed, dried and beautifully folded. They can even fold fitted sheets so well you could put them back into the package they came out of, but they all seem to use only the hottest setting on the dryers and consequently your wardrobe takes quite a beating.


Not a big deal, I’m sure you’re thinking, and it’s not, taken in isolation, but combined with everything else, it gives you a better idea of what it’s like to live here in Baja.


If you shop like my eldest daughter, then Baja won’t hold any challenges, but if you’re used to going to one grocery store for all your shopping needs than it’s going to come as a shock to you when you go looking to complete your list.


Imagine a shopping list:


Skim milk

Feta cheese

Romaine lettuce


Paper Towel

Vitamin D


Now that seems simple enough doesn’t it? Nah, not down here. First forget the Vitamin D, right off the bat. None of the food stores carry anything like that. They might have a Pharmacy in them but it only carries pharmaceuticals that are suitable for common aliments, no vitamins. So then you head off to one of the larger Pharmacias, and if they do have Vitamin D it’s in a cosmetic form suitable only for rubbing on your skin or combined with other things. Now Loreto does have a new Health Food store and I do intend to try there, but every time I go in, it’s closed and it’s hours and mine never seem to correspond.


The bacon down here is in a word, awesome! The bulk stuff is thick cut, well smoked and very lean, but you can only find it in 2 stores and they don’t always have it. Sure you can get packaged stuff, just like the crap we get at home, but the bulk stuff it so very much better and a whole kilo of it will cost you 70 pesos. The commercial stuff is

sold under the name of FUD, costs twice the amount of the bulk bacon and is thin, fatty and virtually tasteless! Which would you prefer? So, if you’re looking for good bacon you may end up having to go to both of the stores that have it to find some and these stores may not necessarily have anything else on your list.


One of the stores that might carry almost everything is called El Pescador, though it’s the most expensive place for groceries as it’s geared mostly to the Gringo tourist trade. When we’re looking for Cocoa and our favourite breakfast cereal, this is the only place we can find them, plus they sell bulk bacon. It automatically becomes one of our stops when we go shopping and they do carry the paper towels we use, though not always, so we buy it when we see it.


The Feta comes from only 2 places; one is the Modelorama, a store just where our dirt road to the beach meets the pavement. Fernando and his wife Lorraina, a lovely, friendly couple run it and they go out of their way to supply all the strange stuff that the Gringos seem to need, not to mention beer. Fernando makes a trip to La Paz twice a month to search out the exotic stuff for us. It does however cost a fair bit more as this is a convenience store. The only other place to get it is in Loreto at a store called Dali’s, a high-end store that caters to the Gringo crowd and the restaurant trade. (I should mention that there are no wholesalers as such in Baja, there is a Sam’s Clubs and Costco, but that’s as close to a true wholesaler as one can get here)


Are you starting to get my drift? Grocery shopping even for a small list can include 6 or 7 stops and if you’re really lucky you might actually get everything, but it’s doubtful. We consider it a great accomplishment when we’ve actually managed to procure everything we set out to get. Some friends on the beach told us that on a recent trip into Loreto they ended up making 27 different stops. Sure they were trying to deal with a couple of government agents and the bank, but still, they considered that fairly normal, since it also included grocery shopping.


There are a couple of other stores that we always stop at; it’s pretty obvious, since we’ve run into restaurant owners at one of them that this is a good place for produce, sushi supplies and other esoteric products. Their prices are pretty good and they carry meat and have an interesting liquor supply, but again sometime their produce looks like it’s been there for weeks and they don’t seem to ever have butter. So the fruit and vegetables may have to wait until Sundays when the Farmers Market is open.


As to the eggs, well, this is something special actually, because you can get eggs in every store and you can buy 1 if that’s all you really need, or 200, your choice.

Milk is also available just about everywhere and in infinitely more variety than we see at home, not to mention that it’s cheap! My favorite part is that all of it is available in 1 Litre Tetra packs, as well as ready to use plastic jugs and in powdered form. The Tetra packs are great for travelling, and I make sure I’ve got at least 3 or 4 on hand just in case we run out of milk while on the road. These babies last for just about forever and since I take milk in my coffee, I never have to worry about not being able to enjoy a cup while we’re in the middle of nowhere and miles from the nearest store.


So there you have it, a list with 7 items on it and I only had to make 6 or 7 stops, not including the Sunday market to get 6 of them. I’m still working on the Vitamin D.


Ah well, it’s not like we’ve got anything better to do with our time and it means that when you’re  in Baja, you just have to slow down a bit and enjoy the scenery, cause you’re going to be seeing a lot of it!