Week in La Paz, Baja California Sur
Tuesday, Nov 2, 2010-11-02
Up before 7 am and on the phone to ACT customer support to successfully sort out my remote database on my HP mini pink computer and my parent database which will stay safely at home while I’m off to Mexico for a little jaunt. Took longer than usual as the very helpful tech in India could not take control of my computer as they usually do when I (rarely) have to call for help. Phew, now that’s sorted, I can happily keep up with new submissions and info as emails come in and not get swamped when I get home end of November. I don’t plan to be a workaholic on vacation but I’ll keep up with what’s coming in and sort through my photos, etc. I LOVE the feature of the digital chip reader built right into the side of the computer, makes working with photos very quick. Of course, on this little PC I have to use the very capable free Picasa program instead of my more robust Adobe Bridge and Photoshop on my Mac.
Finished my last touches of packing and then scooped everything off my desk and into a box because while we’re away, the entire top floor of the house will be painted, floors and walls so every single item will be moved by my trusty team of house painters while the rest of the troops left behind and the dog try to stay out of their way. We’ve been living in quite the chaos for the last 3 weeks as we’ve progressed through part of this redecorating gig and now the pros will finish it off. Prepping and painting the floor of about 1100 square feet is a bit of a task, of course done in stages but you really need to stay off it for as long as possible to let it harden nicely and evolve into the lovely durable surface it becomes.
Paid the last bills, cleared more furniture for the painters then headed up to work to have one last session with my social media and blogging team. We’re in a big learning campaign right now and are redesigning our blog and site. I’ve been learning WordPress and finally got to share some of the great things about it with the rest of my team. It’s SUCH a great tool!!! I’m going to switch this blog over to the hosted version hopefully before Christmas as the hosted .org version has important features that the un-hosted .com version lacks. I used the free .com one first so that I could see just how far you can go with it. The main features the hosted version offers are access to Google Analytics, full control of CSS and the cool plugins to pick from. It’s very exciting what you can do with it and I’m looking forward to the look of our new site and blog at Kidzsmart which will be built in WordPress by Topshelf Creative, the clever team that built our current sites.
Ok, the great WordPress tutorial lasted about an hour then it was time for me to race home, pull a quick change act to lighter clothing, pat the dog one last time then get a quick lift to the ferry, all in under an hour. Coming back to the Mainland from the Sunshine Coast is free so the single transit ticket of $3.50 took me all the way from Horseshoe Bay into downtown Vancouver then out on the Skytrain to the airport. How sweet it that! I rolled my little carry on bag off, slung my little turquoise backpack over my shoulder, and rolled off with my small zippered Sportsac purse. Bingo, arrived at airport hotel about 6:30 pm. A very well-paced day with a lot packed in. I’d had everything all packed and lined up for a few days as my closets were getting filled up with paintings and rolled up rugs ahead of the painting team.
Mexico , here we come.
Wed Nov 4,10:10 pm. La Paz
All day they were prepping here for a Guinness World Record Event which finally ended at 8 pm. They created a 2 kilometre long burro or burrito of manchega cheese and pescado mix all on one continuous tortilla. This stretched the entire length of the Malacon on white paper-wrapped tables and attendants spread out at arm’s length the entire length. What a scream but it was slooooow.
We didn’t eat it but about 27,000 portions were cut. Ingredients included 3 tons of tuna, 1.75 tons onion, 1.75 tons green peppers and half a ton of beans. 2,700 metres long, 54 restaurants helped prep and create it, 3 tons of veggies in all, 3,000 masked and gloved handlers.
Now we are just recovering from the day’s and eve’s excitement, practically comatose except that the street music is TOO LOUD for that. The skateboard park is just a block away and is hosting an incredibly riotous young and rocking brass band of about 18 pieces, Pacifico something or other. WOW! Talk about knock your head off! It’s like eating a mouthful of Pop Rock candy and playing the radio at TOP volume while banging a tin can beside your ear. Holy cow! A joyous riotous cacophony that had many wild and crazy dancers up there showing the rest of us how to do it. Some very good dancers and so fast. Cripes.
We woke up at 440 am in Vancouver, dressed, slid down to check in, clear US Customs then off to LA, stopped long enough to eat an apple gallette from Starbucks, pee and drink a tea then it was time to board a 2 propeller plane to La Paz. It was a stretch of belief to think it would actually take us there but it did. The Baja is so narrow that we could see both sides of the coast at the same time. I’ve never seen the Baja from the air like that. Last time we came down on Sandingo, sailing over the sea, and slowly taking our time down the coast. That was November 1998 then back again in 200 on our way back north to San Carlos in the Sea of Cortez.
Arrived about 1:30 pm, wild taxi ride with only 2 wheels on the ground on any given corner to arrive at Casa Tuscany. Carol, our host welcomed us and gave us the rundown and map of good eatereies. A quick unpack then off to see the Big Burro event just down the road. She thought the burro event might have already passed but no, they were really just starting when we crawled out around 4. It was pretty hot and of course completely sunny. Walked a long way here and there and have only just gotten back now at 10 pm with a few stops. Buenos noches.
Thursday Nov 5, 8:19 pm
Back in the room for an earlier evening than last night’s loud one. Met 2 other American couples at breakfast table in shady courtyard. An older couple from Spokane who have an Arabian horse ranch with 35 horses and who finance John Deere franchises. Other couple was from New York. He, a tidily long-haired Frenchman who works at Goldman Sachs Bank and she, in real estate. All talked about how hard things have become to finance anything at all unless you already have half to put down as a down-payment. Stiff. They commissioned a 42 foot Taiwanese sailboat several years ago, took delivery of it in CA and are working it around to the Caribbean and possibly Europe eventually, a slow process when they only get away for chunks of 2 weeks at a time mostly.
Carol brought us nice fruit medley sprinkled with lemon chili salt- yum! Must buy some of that. Then some funny Danish round ball pancakes which we split and spread with butter, jam and sprinkled with icing sugar. Cute. Grabbed a taxi way uptown to the ferry ticket office and got the return trip as well. It would have been a long way to walk and not fascinating at all. Wandered around the Centro, picked up some ribbon to tie small backpacks onto my rolling bag, some sunscreen, a big straw hat for Den and some shaving cream. Refreshed ourselves with some Jamaica, (ha-my-ee-ka) red hibiscus flower drink.
Weather very hot, slept with only a sheet and eventually a bit of a blanket. Had a lovely siesta and took today very slowly. Many closed shops and restaurants, definitely less well off financially than when we were here in 98, 99 but not horrendous to our eye. Had quesadilla lunch in health food place El Quito Sol which we remembered from last time and then dinner of papas rellenos, stuffed baked potatoes with mushroom, corn, marinaded beef, salsa and guacamole sauces on top. Yummy. Rancho Viejo is our old favorite papas place from just down near Marina de La Paz. Will go there tomorrow.
Den is 2 for 2 on daily falls so far. Uneven pavement is the big thing to look out for down here. You can’t walk along admiring the scenery, you must look down at almost all times when perambulating or else!
Friday Nov 6, 9:30 pm
After fruit and frittata breakfast with the boating couple, we headed off to Marina de la Paz. With a few new marinas open here and there, there are less boats at anchor because it is very treacherous, narrow, shallow, with lots of wind and strong currents. We asked for Mary, the owner and caught up with her in a back office. We had heard that Scott, the chiropractor (who we left Jake with for his last 2 weeks of our first season in Mexico) had married her and moved down here but when we asked about Scott, Mary drew a blank until she figured we meant “Scott from Oregon” who had married their secretary. OK, she said, he lives here most of the year and plays guitar each Wednesday evening just behind the Marina. She gave us his step-daughter’s email and hopefully we’ll catch up with him tomorrow.
We had a coffee in the nice little bar/café overlooking the docks and watched all the antics of the busy dinghy dock, half-inflated decrepit ones with shabby canvas covers and coughing engines right up to spanking new spiffy ones, but mostly an old well-used comfortable broken in look to them. Had to wait for someone to let us through the locked gate and then walked all the way out to the end of the far right dock.
A whole row of shiny well-kept pangas were docked in special little slips built just for their shape. Kialoa, an impressively beefy 80 foot ex-racing machine was under work out at the end of the docks with equipment and tools strewn over the entire boat length, way more than could possibly be fixed, stowed or even considered in one day, a very big job. A big power boat was on the other side of the dock and was lovely and shiny and well cared for except the bottom was desperately in need of being cleaned by a few divers. Barnacles were growing all along the waterline. Nasty, like a well-dressed woman who wears the same panties for 2 months, just not a good idea, pretty shocking considering the investment in the boat.
Lots of serious looking cruising sailboats complete with well built shade tents and awnings and lots of jerry cans tied along the rails for water, fuel or whatever might be needed along the way between here and there. A few cruising kids, some pelicans, some frightened small fish hiding from predators in the shadow of boats with less clean bottoms. The wind and waves and current were playing a good tune across the whole bay reminding us how choppy the trip to the anchored boat and back used to be, especially with the 4 of us and shopping or laundry. We used to wear the cheapest scrappiest rain jackets we had for the trip with our life jackets on of course and then just leave them in the dinghy while we went ashore for errands and shopping, something we would not have done with better foul weather gear. We were here around the Christmas season and nights were so chilly that we needed 3 blankets each, not the case now in early November as I sit here in barely anything.
Grabbed a freshly pressed fruit and veggie juice, 2 granola biscuits and called it lunch and headed back for a little siesta. We have wifi here at the hotel so I am catching up with a few things like getting through my long lists of Google Alerts for art which bring me quite a few useful and interesting bits and contacts for my blogs and art sites. They are fairly quick and fun to get through compared to all the ones I look at for Kidzsmart so at least these ones are on the fun side.
Wandered up town to the Cathedral area and found the big Libreria shop we used to go to a lot with the kids. Magazines, papers, art supplies, storage things, books, pencils… all the useful stuff. I had picked a nice fresh stiff piece of cardboard out of a pile of boxes, bought a big clip and 2 pieces of mid-tone Canson drawing paper. I borrowed some big scissors and cut the paper up to fit my little drawing board and hopefully I’ll get some drawing done with my little box of half length colored pencils that I picked up yesterday.
Several of the La Paz galleries on their artists’ pages have closed, sad, not a tourist town much at all, very much a Mexican town here. Dinner in Las Tres Viergenes, very nice, then cruised back and stopped in on a little pedestrian strip for a very entertaining glass of wine and good people watching. On to the big department store Sears which used to be called Dorian’s, still very nice, then finally back home. Caught a few nice shots of the busy Friday night at the skateboard park for Jake. At 14, he used to take off after our home schooling sessions ended around 1-ish and sometimes we wouldn’t see him till 9:30 or 10 pm. This was only when we were dockside as no way to do this if we were out at anchor. He’d take off with his correspondence course Spanish, his sociable personality and his skateboard under his arm and had a whale of a time, met a great bunch of young people. I wonder what they’re up to now.
Saturday Nov 7
Explored the Centro better, bought Den some shorts and a shirt, had lovely seafood platter at Bismark-cito then came home and lounged through The Big Lebowski on dvd in the room. Very relaxomatic. Catching up with my stack of Google Alerts for art and kidz.
Sunday Nov 8
Actually used the blanket last night. Did the other half of the Marina de la Paz this morning. Very hot in the sun and got back from marina about 1 pm. We had to stop for a soft drink before and after our visit to the docks, sun was so hot. I don’t know how some people stay year round here on their boats. Wild. Now I remember why we always travel to Europe in Feb to May or October, too friggin’ hot for rushing around. Good thing we’re in slow time this time.
Grabbed a taxi out to check out the new Costa Baja resort out near Pichilinge on Carol’s recommendation. Wow, what a smoking hot resort. We have visited many more than we have actually stayed at but this one is very nice indeed. It’s not an all inclusive but is its own separate little world out there away from the hustle and bustle of the town center. It has a great golf course, incredible infinity pool, tennis courts, and a big marina with the Moorings charter boat fleet. We were given a tour of the rooms and facilities then left to sit by the infinity pool and gaze paralyzed and gobsmacked by the incredible sunset. Stunning.
La Paz is a very small city and much more quiet and peaceful than many other mainland Mexican cities so I see the big draw it must have for Mexican tourists as a peaceful getaway. Plus, just around the corner are several gorgeous incredible beaches teaming with wild life, birds, seals, fish, whales and even the huge gentle giant tiger shark, the largest fish in the world which happily only eats very tiny miniscule little things with its massive mouth. La Paz apparently avoids the big drug crime and all the wacko package tourists from USA and Canada and has a lot going for it.
More about our week in La Paz coming soon for anyone who feels the need to read this. Hope you’re enjoying riding in my pocket in Mexico, Hope this is sending some sunshine and warmth your way.