Sunday, January 13, 2013

Spanglish in La Paz

Camp set up just in time for...

...the sunset!

It’s a rough road to paradise - Agua Verde

Road to Agua Verde
Time to find a campsite
From La Purisma we ground our way over rocky, cactus clad, ridges and through boulder strewn river beds to finally rejoin the Mex 1 just south of Bahia Concepcion. Parted company with Steve (briefly as it turned out) to spend a couple of nights on the beautiful beaches of Bahia Concepcion - white sands, blue waters, scattered islets - yep, I’m living in a postcard! The only difference is that you don’t break shock absorbers in postcards! I’d been noticing a bit of a rattle after the past week of rocky roads and, after crawling under the van to investigate, discovered that one of my front shocks had sheared off. As I drove back towards Loreto, the nearest town, in the hope of getting it fixed, I met Steve going in the opposite direction. He suggested that I’d be more likely to get it fixed in Constitucion, so a quick U-turn saw me climbing once more through the spectacular, rugged ranges  of the Sierra Giganteas, although this time on a sealed road. We pulled into the first Llantera (tire repair) and suspension shop on the outskirts of town and after a quick conversation in Spanglish established that “soldera” probably meant “welding”, said “si” and, within half an hour had a nicely re-welded shock-absorber for the grand total of $12!! 

On the beach at Bahia de Concepcion
Camping in the fishing camp
Left Steve once again, he heading to La Paz and me retracing my steps a little in order to take a side road back through the Giganteas, twisting and turning for 60 kms to suddenly be confronted with spectacular views over the Sea of Cortez and yet more of its islands. A steep, winding descent to the coast eventually brought me out at the sleepy little fishing village of Agua Verde. It seems that not many westerners stay here but the locals were extremely welcoming so I set up camp on the beach next to their fish-cleaning palapas as the sun set behind the jagged peaks to the west, casting its late light over the ocean and islands to the east. It doesn’t get much better than this!!

First light the next morning saw the fishermen setting off on their daily routine whilst a huge flock of birds comprising hundreds of pelicans, gulls, terns, grebes and cormorants wreaked havoc on a huge school of fish trapped against the shore - the pelicans and terns plummeting out of the sky into the churning water whilst the cormorants and grebes submarined below the surface and the gulls scavenged whatever scraps they could glean - not a good day to be a fish! 

Kayakiing Agua Verde
Took the kayak out once again to explore the coast before the wind came up and then, in the afternoon went hiking with one of the locals to look at some old cave paintings overlooking the ocean - handprints stenciled on the cave walls, not too dissimilar to those one sees in Australia. We then returned to his house to meet the family and to  lunch - delicious cebiche - raw fish marinated in lemon and scrunched into balls, eaten with tortillas. Bought some fresh fish from him and returned to my oceanside camp to conjure up my own version of a mexican fish dinner with a local salsa sauce and a dash of lime -  pretty good I thought for someone not renowned for their cooking!

Thermal power plant near Santa Rosalia
From Spanglish to Español - back to school in La Paz.

Caught up with Steve once again in La Paz. He is using this pleasant little city / big town as a base for his work with a local orphanage and wheel-chair clinics where he works with locals to fit handicapped kids with chairs shipped down from the US. We spent a few days visiting pueblos and ranches scattered through the ranges behind La Paz. In the small village of El Triunfo we found an unlikely piano museum in a town where a huge effort has been made to restore the streets and buildings in the hope of not only attracting tourists, but also maintaining local pride in what is a beautiful little pueblo nestled into the rugged ranges. 

Back-drop to a beachside camp
But for the cacti, you might think you 
were in the Kimberly's
Another of the projects Steve has an interest in is a horse therapy ranch for disadvantaged kids. There we met Martha and Juan who were looking after the ranch while the owners were away. Martha has  taught Spanish in Germany for several years and after a brief conversation I was enrolled for Spanish lessons on the ranch!

Mexican Christmas

While staying in La Paz, Steve also introduced me to Alberto, a local taxi driver who speaks good english and knows practically everyone in, and everything about La Paz. He invited us to a Christmas Eve barbecue with his family - seafood, chicken and beef on the barby - there are a few things that Ausies and Mexicans have in common!

Unlikely piano museum

On Christmas morning we visited the local beaches where many Mexican families were out enjoying the day on the beach, lunched at a beachside restaurant at Tecalote and then went poking around rocky roads, over headlands and isolated coves before completing a loop that took us back to La Paz.

I reckon Tom Waits could still get a tune out of it

Feels like Mexico!
Mexican guard dog - really just want's to play!

No reason why being dead should be boring!

Abuelo y nieta on a local ranch

La Paz mercado de verdura

Dinner with Steve at Kiki's

Looks like a good place for Christmas lunch

Mexicans enjoying Christmas at the beach. Just out of La Paz

Immediately after Christmas I started my Spanish lessons and that has pretty much been my entire focus - intensive Spanish with two lessons a day and a group session twice a week - feel like I’m making significant progress after just two weeks - less spanglish y mas Español.

I’m now camped on the ranch so it is just a brief walk to “school”, sitting under the palm trees outside their house.

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