Pescadero is famous for its organic produce. Strawberries are one of the biggest exports from this sliver of land in the ocean. It’s kind of weird and probably not sustainable with residential development. We live in the desert and there’s enough water to grow tons of products for export. But the water isn’t destined to last if the area keeps developing as a tourist destination. Tourists and second homes use a lot of water. Vamos a ver. We’ll see. I can’t predict what will happen. Meanwhile I can enjoy the strawberries and xeriscape my own yard.
This year’s Strawberry (fresa) and Chile (chile) festival was an amalgamantion of carnival, beauty pageant, talent show, farmer’s market, and cock fight. The wide variety of activities drew big crowds. Burt and I went down twice. Early in the day we toured the booths of local growers and restaurants. Priscilla and Cornelio are big growers here. At their booth we bought some strawberry jam and lettuce. At another booth I bought pesto. Rumors are that 80% of the basil consumed in the US is grown in Pescadero. At another booth I bought a plant for the yard. A bright green succulent. And at yet another booth we bought locally made goat cheese and machaca (shredded beef sort of like beef jerky). We returned home to our lovely gNash with all the modern conveniences and made a mighty lunch.
Later that night we headed out to see what the after dark scene. On stage was the hula girl you see above. Maybe she was 10. At first I thought judgmental and sarcastic thoughts. I wondered who would put a young girl on stage by herself dancing a hula in a grass skirt and bikini? Then I watched and left my suburban upbringing behind. This girl was dedicated. She was serious. She was committed. She danced with intensity and looked perfectly relaxed. She was a star. She was communicating with her chosen art. The hula was her destiny. I am not being sarcastic. This girl wanted to be a hula star and she was there doing it with the gravitas of an ancient martial artist. It did not matte that she was on a stage in a dusty town in Mexico. She owned it. I was sad when she stopped after only two songs. Lesson learned. That and I realized (now that I have a singing band of kids to direct) that performance for the sake of performance is an important part of childhood development. Good or bad the show must go on. But this girl was good.
When the adult karaoke style singing started we hit the stalls for food. Great voices but not my thing. I just don’t enjoy the live voice over recorded music scene despite the fantastic singers. Burt and I found some tamales filled with cheese and chiles and continued to walk and eat. I only ate one tamale because I had a plan. I had a plan for churros. Churros are long skinny doughnut like pastries covered in sugar and cinnamon. Crispy and hot on the outside. Warm and airy on the inside. The churro originated in Spain but has endured as a part of Mexican cuisine. Lucky for me they are not available everywhere. Pescadero does not even have a churro cart. I hadn’t eaten one since last year. Rarely can you eat just one. They are sold 6 or 7 to a bag. If you don’t have Burt or a pile of friends you eat a lot of churros when you buy them. The perfect churro is fresh out of the oil for you. When I noticed the worker reaching for an older bag I asked for a fresh one and the owner stepped in and told her worker to give me a well made pile of churros. I got the bag I wanted.
With churros in hand we perused the games and rides. As happens every year we could not resist shooting the .22 rifles at the targets. Hit the right target and you make the sets come alive with music and dancing dolls. Burt did well. I gave up quickly to eat churros. I blame it on my churro binge. No other games appealed to us so we ambled over to the cock fighting arena. A quick look through the slats told us we did not want to go in. Unlike our previous time observing the cock fights this event was not family style. There was a pack of very serious men with a few women working the beer stands. I tried to rally for the sake of social inquiry but the door charge of 100 pesos deflated our interest. Nearby we bumped into Priscilla. Her husband Cornelio was inside running his chickens. She advised us that it wasn’t a friendly scene and that we had made the right choice not to go in. We bid her good night and headed home. It was 7 PM. Things had not even gotten started for the locals. It was still early and we were headed to bed.
Well, we are here. I can’t get any pictures to upload. The internet is too slow. I’ll keep trying. To answer Pat’s question, yes, I used my new phone for the photos in the previous post. The whale watching photos I am trying to upload were taken with my regular digital camera. The iPhone does not zoom well and since the whales were reported to be far away I brought my bigger lens.
Our transition into Pescadero is going smoothly. Since the yard was lovingly cleaned by our awesome gardeners, I focused on getting the gNash back to a livable state. Two months of winter weather and steady work had allowed for disastrously unhomey conditions to develop. There were so many layers of clothes and bedding and instruments that there was no room to clean. Think mold, dust, dampness, dog hair, detritus. Think smelly. Think hoarders living between piles of everything they own. Disgustingly smelly. I went after it with a broom, then mini-vac, and finally a vinegar soaked rag. It’s much shinier and fresh in here now. Life in a trailer is not for the faint of heart. On the upside there was no new sign of rodentia.
Today I had for main assignments: go to town and pay the property taxes, drop off laundry, change dollars to pesos, charge the internet stick. I managed to do them all, not in that order, and also schedule our first gig of the season. If you are a local and reading this, we’ll be at Mi Pueblito on February 12. These errands plus catch up sessions with Mayra and April took until 1 PM. I arrived home and applied my cleaning skills to the rumpus room and our bathroom. Burt has spent all his time getting the infrastructure functioning: water, electricity, storage. The beach might be doable tomorrow.
When we decided to go to the local Strawberry and Chile Fesitval I’ll admit we were not inspired by a chance to enjoy innocent games and rides. We wanted to see a Palea de Gallos (Cock Fight). Now don’t get on the PETA bandwagon and condemn our curiosity. Burt’s daughter had never been and we had only been to one for a short visit once. Our language skills are greatly improved and so is our familiarity with neighbors and residents of Pescadero so we wanted another take on what the cock fights are all about. Also, it’s good to see and be seen. Neighbors that know you are more likely to keep a watchful eye out. So we headed to the festival with jaundiced eyes and steel stomachs only to learn the fights were cancelled. The local hot dog vendor I spoke with was delighted to converse with me about the fights. I learned that a bunch of people had been asking and that it was ‘bad for business’ that they were cancelled. He said if I really wanted to see some I needed to go to Cabo. No thanks.
It turns out there was plenty of cultural mystery to contemplate at the festival without chicken mayhem. Children gambling. Scarily unhygienic food stands. An icon of American slasher movies peeing on a decapitated head…I thought the fair was going to be a local event with local food and crafts. What we found on this evening was a traveling carney show. Rides that were found to be unsafe in the US in 1987 still have homes in Mexico. Burt and Jen took there chances with the BB guns and set dioramas moving and music streaming. A local hit the Chuky button with his BB and started Chuky (the serial killing doll known as Chuckie in the US) a whirling and peeing. When the Chuky button was hit the Chuky doll sprouted a black plastic penis and faux urine emitted as he spun from side to side. Not being a frequenter of stateside carnivals I have no idea if this is a uniquely Mexican twist or if the Mexican’s are wondering, “What the heck is going on with that Chuky doll we bought in the US?” For an added twist on the mysteries of Chuky: chuky means methamphetamine in Mexico. Is this a convoluted anti-drug message? Take Chuky and you’ll be pissing on chopped off heads before you know it?
Not a fresa or chile was spotted during our evening tour of the festival. Daytime activities are substantially different and we accidentally napped through our planned excursion. next year.
Olive and our laundry had a rough day yesterday. Both were returned worse for the wear. Olive would be better named Velcro. Her coat of fur and hair picks up every seed and sticker and hides a good number of undesirable pests, too. She, unlike Elivis, gnaws and scratches all day trying to evict the insect squatters. Short hair makes hygiene easier and cuts down on the stickery things. Her haircut left her looking like her head is two dog sizes too big for her body. The entire torso and legs were shaved close and not a thing was done to her head. She smells faintly like medicine and has green staining in her ears as well. Overall she looks like a fashion no-no you might find on the last page of Glamour magazine. Eighties poofy haristyle and lycra tights are not for you sweet, squatty Olive. Leave that for Duran Duran impersonators. Some of this is my fault. I did a dump and run at the vet and didn’t try to explain what I wanted. Last time he did a good enough job and it was nothing like I’d asked for so I figured, why bother? It was a mistake to presume he’d do the same job.
Service at the laundry Ive been frequenting this year has been spotty. Titi (yes, it means the same thing here as there. I haven’t inquired.) is close. She uses unscented soap. That is huge in the land of the greater the smell the cleaner it must be. The clothes come out clean. The spottiness is that sometimes I get other people’s clothes back. What’s a few new panties and t-shirts? The first time, I got panties that were almost, but not quite, identical to mine. I was mystified that they looked a little older than I recalled. Maybe Titi is rough. Oh well. She’s close, she does a good job. I’ll throw away those panties that might not have been mine. Next time I got some shirts and panties that definitely weren’t mine. I returned them to Titi. A seed of doubt was lodged. I couldn’t seem to find my skort. Had Titi given it to someone else? How would I know if all my underwear was back home. I don’t keep count. Burt encouraged me to return to Neptuno in Todos Santos. I wanted to give Titi a chance. The next batch I returned an even bigger pile of clothes to Titi and discovered accidentally a pile of my own clothes sitting by the door. Titi didn’t mention them. I had to point them out and say, “These are mine.” A shrug, a smile. No concern. Was Titi skimming clothes for the healthy secondary market? At this point you’d think a normal person would give up. Burt wanted me to give up but I was having too much fun seeing what was in my laundry bag every couple of weeks. I figured a lost shirt or panties was worth the hilarity. And the clothes I got back were clean and did not smell. At other local laundrys I have been charged to reclaim clothes that smelled like International Flavors and Fragrances off the coast of New Jersey where the dirt had merely moved around. I was thinking a slow erosion of the contents of my wardrobe was okay. Until yesterday. Yesterday Titi commited the ultimate laundry foul. Titi dried my clothes. This is strictly forbidden. I am a tall girl. I want nothing to shrink in sleeve or leg. I went a little bonkers on Titi when I discovered my clothes had been through the dryer. Titi claimed I hadn’t told her. I firmly said, “I told you.” My improvements in Spanish seem to be leading to more altercations. Lucky for me and really, really sad for Titi there was a witness. Grandpa in the corner piped up, “She told you. I heard her.” Titi and grandpa went after each other and I bailed with my deeply discounted laundry. I am only one day into exploring the ramifications of my dried clothes and I can conclude that Titi will no longer see me darkening her door.
Just as the gut wrentching movie Philomena ended Burt started cussing and storming around the yard. I was verklempt from the sad story of nuns stealing babies in Ireland and I have a bad head cold. I was, and am exhausted. I had to ask yelling, mad Burt to calm down before I could face his wound. Knowing I was not my usual steel-stomached self (my effort at evacuating Olive’s anal glands this morning took it all out of me) I handed Burt a sterile bandage and ordered him to sit down and apply direct pressure and elevation while I called for back up. Without seeing the wound I knew it would need professional attention to clean. Handsaws make for messy cuts and they drag debris into the wound as they open it.
I called Janet, she was away so she called April. April shot up here and we looked at it together. It was a jagged thing not too deep but irregular. She called the local doc and he suggested the Centro del Salud. Burt resisted mildly. He prefers my doctoring. I used April to get him to agree to a pro. I just didn’t have it in me to fight him or dig in there for a proper cleaning. My head was throbbing. With Burt convinced, April went home and I hauled him into Todos Santos. Our local clinic is closed on Saturday. At this point I can’t help but compare the US system of care with Mexico’s system. For minor wound care Mexico crushes the US. In the US we would have discussed the cost of an ER visit. We would have worried about our deductible. I would have probably thought WTF, I’ll clean it. An ER will charge over a grand and it will take hours to get seen, so I’ll just clean it. Burt’s tough. Then the wound would have become infected and we would have been looking at a lot more money and a lot more problems to fix something much worse than the cut. Here it cost $25 for two stitches, anesthesia, deep probing cleaning and antibiotics. We were back at home an hour after the accident.
You can see from Burt’s face that they did a rigorous job cleaning. Now I have to cook and clean. What’s up with that? No music tonight.
Yesterday we were subsumed into the 11th Annual Festival de Cine preparations. Burt and I showed up mid-afternoon planning to install the Jóvenes en Video Escuela de Cine sign. A few things went wrong. First nobody was at the theater to meet us and everything was locked. Then my phone decided I had used up all the minutes and I couldn’t call anybody to meet us. We drove to our contact’s house. They didn’t answer and we weren’t prepared to climb the wall and chase them out. We drove to the OXXO (mini-mart) to recharge the phone. On the way to OXXO the trim Burt had built to hold the sign in place shimmied out of the truck bed window and was dragged on the road. We heard a funny noise. Burt was deep in denial when he decided to keep driving and pretend he’d picked up a palm leaf. I had to roll down my window and say, “What are you dragging?” before he decided to stop. The trim was slightly broken in two. Slightly because it was still attached but not quite intact. I charged the phone. I called our contact. We drove back to the theater. I had to pee. Nobody was around. Burt and the truck gave me shelter and I peed on the street. I got away with this. Deep breath.
Our contact arrived. We were short a ladder. We needed two guys to do the lifting. Jorge was willing to help but was afraid of heights. I climbed the ladder in my green girly skirt and Burt and Jorge lifted the sign into place while I applied pressure to keep it from falling forward. The custom fit sign had swelled. It was slightly bigger than the slot it was supposed to fit into. I stayed on the ladder and Burt donned a chair. From his chair Burt persuaded the sign into the slot. There were abrasions and hand marks all over the new sign from our hearty efforts to make it fit. Breathe.
With the sign in its spot we just needed to fit the keeper trim into place to hold it and cover the gaps between the sign and the arch. Burt made an arched trim piece a couple of weeks ago and pre-painted it. The trim piece did not fit. For reasons we will never know half of the trim lined up perfectly and the other side would not bend to fit. We broke the trim (some more) trying to get it in. More marks were applied to the freshly painted sign. We wrestled with some shorter pieces. It still would not fit. I joked that this is why Burt builds houses and not musical instruments. Failure was accepted. Now what to do? Burt decided to drive back to Pescadero and rip some more trim into very thin slices that we would then apply one layer at a time. He left and I helped the growing crowd of Youth in Video volunteer kids that were trickling in to volunteer. We moved some of the 7,000 printed programs up to the theater. I was recruited as translator. These kids talk fast. I sent them to find Señor Barraja, boss man of the theater. Señor Barraja was the unhappy gentleman of a few weeks ago that did not want the sign installed. We needed him to get us access to the upstairs theater and to condone some of our plans. I made myself ready to charm. Barraja and I got started slowly but by the end of the day he was smiling at my efforts. I think I turned the tide when I asked him about the activity at the church across the plaza. There was a large crowd. It was a funeral for a well known young man that had died of Down’s Syndrome. We were able to discuss that he was a childlike man that everyone liked and the town was very sad he had died. Breathe.
Burt returned. He did some more crazy stuff on a ladder and got the new strips in place. Caulk. Midway through painting the sister of the schools founder and namesake showed up. She was overcome with emotion and cried and prayed and wept and laughed while Burt was on the ladder painting. Pictures were taken. Her entourage asked us to get out of the way. We had to ask them to wait until we were finished with the work. They did. Tada. More pictures were taken. Breathe.
Now we needed to hang the festival banners from the front of the theater. We need concrete nails. Jaimie ran off to get some. The boys went and found a bigger ladder (where was this ladder when we were risking our limbs on the chairs and short ladder?). Barraja and I had another chat, this time about the banners. He got them for me and met me just where I asked him to meet me. What a pleasant surprise when things work. Burt and his gang of boys hung the signs. A young man ran by chased by a very angry older man. Taking our cues from the locals we stayed out of the way. Barraja called somebody. The police showed up instantly. Barraja said something about the kid and the man and the police disappeared in the direction the kid was last seen. We will never know. The banners were hung a wee bit cattywampus. Breathe.
Well, of course it was, silly. I hatched a great plan to have our Valentine’s Day date out in the desert where we could see the sunset over the ocean and the moonrise over the mountains. I hoped to taken some pictures of the mountains lit by the setting sun as the moon peeked out. Alas, the moon was about 15 minutes late to the show. I should have come out the day before. And I should have remembered the little adapter that attached the camera to the tripod. The lovely pink haze was dioxin laden smoke from the dump burning. Pretty isn’t it? All my moon pictures came out over or underexposed but the mountains had already gone to sleep so it didn’t matter. It was a fun date anyway.
Afterwards we returned home to the gNash and dined on homemade ravioli’s out of the freezer. It was a pretty good day. Later this week the 11th Annual Festival de Cine starts and I might be short on time or energy to blog. The volunteer coordinator is planning on using our overly reliable butts to do anything that needs doing. Today I had to let her know that Burt is a man of action and not an accountant just so she wouldn’t expect him to do any heavy money changing. Rules combined with money gives Burt hives. Today is chore day. Off to water and pick up dog poop. Life in paradise.
Baja midnight comes somewhere between 7 and 8 each night depending on who you ask. Burt and I are on the early side. You could even call us homebodies despite the fact that we don’t have a house. Our trailer beckons and we like to be snuggled up for a DVD around 7. I have some theories about the cause of this in the general population but the cause in our specific lives is no house equals no rooms to sit about in. That and 7:30 AM yoga. Darkness comes early and brings with it chill air. We naturally head indoors and under the covers. Just as we are falling asleep the local populace wakes up. This is what earplugs were made for.
This week something got into our friends and we found ourselves out to dinner three nights in a row. It was fun but now we are pooped. Last night’s gathering was with our former bass player Todd Silas’s sister-in-law Raechel. Ms. R brought hats for the festivities. She is a classy broad. Our dinner party had a former Hollywood starlet and 5 men, 4 women. Burt was the only straight guy. We ate too much and left too early. In between we abused the iPhone to answer trivial or trivia questions and post selfies of our spectacular hattedness on Facebook. What? You say there was a football game on? It was the 48th Superbowl? It sounds like we didn’t miss anything.
Today I met with our Palapa Society contact, Serena, and we worked out a song list for the three age groups. We’re going to start with these and see what happens:
Let My Love Open the Door (the Who)
Stand By Me (Umm….)
Bad Moon Rising (Creedance Clearwater Revival)
Three Little Birds (Bob Marley)
On Top of My Spaghetti (is there anyone willing to claim this?)
Let It Be (the Beatles)
Bye Bye Love (Buddy Holly)
You are my Sunshine
This Old Man
We’ll start plowing through the curriculum this Thursday at 3:15. Our goal is a choral extravaganza before Spring Break.
It was inevitable and remains inevitable. I fell on a cactus last night. I’ve often pondered when it would happen and what it would be like. Living amongst the spiny most of our days I’ve been pricked a bunch but last night was a full on wrestling match. Burt and I went out for an evening exploration of the hills. Clouds were moving in and the air was heavy. It felt like rain. We parked near an old quarry at the end of the road. I headed out one trail and dead ended and turned around and tried another. The second spur I headed out had an ocotillo-like cactus sprawled on its side on the trail. Ocotillo are the octopus of the cactii world. Six to eight foot slender arms reach to the sky from a central base. The arms wave about and are covered in inch long spines. They are easy to see and avoid. This specimen had fallen in my way and I figured I could step on some branches and lift some others and pass by. This worked on the way out. I jogged on. In about 47 seconds I reached the end of the trail and had to turn around again. What is up with dead end trails? In less than a minute I was back trying to pass the spiny obstacle. In the midst of the octopus cactus the trail edge gave way and I was flung into the waiting arms of doom while Burt watched aghast from the far side. It had me by the calf, forearm, back and hair. I shouted off Burt’s proffered assistance and proceeded to disentangle myself. No use having two people engulfed. In the end more damage was done on the skid across the gravel. Puncture wounds are not as painful as abrasions. In conclusion: After years of worrying about falling on a cactus I can say it was bad but not as bad as I imagined.
Record breaking surf has rolled in all over the Pacific. Hawaii is reportedly seeing 45 to 50 foot monsters. We are enjoying, from the shore, waves so big that the average human can’t get outside without mechanical assistance. It kind of bums me out because the scale isn’t as easily appreciated without some surfers taking to the seas or taking it on the head as the case may be. Yesterday we watched as one intrepid man paddled out. He was beaten about on the inside (that’s where the waves are breaking) by a massive set. Ten minutes of paddling from his belly and he finally cleared the break. By that time the ocean currents had dragged him a half mile from the actual loading zone. With no other surfers out it must have been hard to even figure out where he was in relation to the rideable bits. I was exhausted just watching. He paddled for a while back north towards the point and woe was he. After ten more minutes he was hardly any closer. Ultimately he decided to surf where he was. A catch and a tumble, one more try and he came in. Today the sets are predicted to be even bigger. We plan to go watch again. Olive is entertainment enough if there is nobody out.
Burt’s been passing time making yard tables and stools out of scrap lumber. This table/guitar playing perch is made from the sink cutout left over from a counter install a few years ago. The legs are scrap maple from Oregon. It’s all very rustic and charming so he’s calling himself an artist (and feels great now) and selling them for $367 under the brand Muebles Mágicos by the Gypsy Carpenters. Muebles means furniture. Supplies are limited. I made the mobile doodads on top. Beach detritus and beads I’ve picked up along the way are the main components. So far they are gifts only. There’s not enough starfish to go around. We’re two months in to our five months here and it feels like we are just getting the hang of it.