Wednesday, March 29, 2006

This is a quick visit, before Lupytha closes the office. I just want to report that we will be leaving Kino Bay tomorrow (for real, this time), heading for the American border at Agua Prieta. I think Douglas, AZ is on the other side. We´ll be spending the night either in Arizona or in New Mexico tomorrow night.

I also want to brag that I cycled 24 miles yesterday.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

It's probably just as well that I didn't manage to get a laptop before we came out on this trip. Yesterday I heard a rumour that we had wi-fi in the park, and I mentioned it to Ted - so he brought his laptop over this afternoon. He's gone on his way, and Robin and I have been listening to BBC news, I've been catching up at the Den, and here I am in the Turtle log. I did have my bike ride to Kino Viejo this morning, so I've had my exercise for the day, but I'm wondering how much exercise I would be getting if I had this easy access to a computer every day.

Robin didn't feel like cycling all the way to town this morning, so I went on my own. I ran across Ted and Suzie along the way and stopped to talk for a couple of minutes. They were heading over to the estuary to do some kayaking. When I got to town, I rode straight to Super Del Mar in search of coconut milk for the prawn curry that the guys want to put together tomorrow night. It's odd. You can get something called "Crema de Coco", which is a very thick, sweetened coconut concoction (I've found that I can make a lovely drink out of pineapple juice and soda water, with just a little Crema de Coco stirred in.) but a can of coconut milk just isn't to be had.. Nowhere, nohow. Well, we found a can at John and Desiree's house for the last curry, which can they had presumably brought in from the U.S., but that well is dry now, so we have to get creative. I tried three stores, then dropped by the park, where the Sunday public market (flea market, mostly) was in progress. Having browsed for a few minutes, I cycled around a few of the back streets, dodging excited dogs, then made my way back to the highway and cycled back to Kino Nuevo. Along the way, I stopped at a street vendor's stand and bought a whole coconut. It cost a fortune (25 pesos - about $2.50), but I reasoned that I can use the milk for the curry and shred the meat to make a creation with the shark filets we now have in the freezer. I think maybe if I get some lime leaves and line a pan with them, then put the shredded coconut on top, lay the shark on that, and cover it with some lime slices, I may come up with something lovely. Time will tell. Anyway, the young lady who sold me the coconut kindly hacked off the wood so that there's only a skin over the milk - so I was able to carry it home in my pannier without spilling. It's now in the fridge, awaiting its transformation. The coconuts are sold as a beach drink. You put a straw in and drink the mik, then somehow get to the meat, which you apparently eat with the local (very good) bottled hot sauce. I haven't tried it myself, but I gather it's popular. Mind you, so are tacos de cabeza (brain tacos) another local specialty. Have I mentioned them before?

So. When I got home I stopped at the office and chatted with Lupytha, then walked my bike into the park, where I saw Robin sitting alone on a patio that was not ours. I wondered for a moment whether he had made some new friends, but then I saw that the rig in front of which he sat was ours. What the?

It turned out that shortly after I left, Robin was in the rig, making his brunch, when there came a loud crunch and some debris flew in the back window. Somebody in a big truck, pulling a long 5th wheel, had cut the corner and taken the roof off our palapa. He knocked Robin's bike over, breaking the bell, but otherwise our personal property was undamaged. On Lupytha's instructions, Robin looked around and found a new site that suited him, and moved there. When I got home, workers were demolishing what was left of our old home. (Lupytha hadn't said a word to me. I picture her sitting on her stool behind the counter, giggling, anticipating my surprise.) It's weird. Our view is different, our patio is bigger, and we have a little storage shed. We're farther from the showers, but closer to the office. I imagine I'll get used to it eventually. Right now, it's just weird.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

We´re still in Bahía Kino. We sort of planned to leave this coming Monday, because Robin had it in his head to go take a look at San Carlos - about 120 miles south of here - for a couple of days before we head to Texas. Trouble is, first of all, I have no particular interest in going to San Carlos. I understand it´s bigger and busier than Kino, with lots of shopping, and I figure I can get that anywhere. What I can´t get anywhere is this sleepy little place (billed as "a little drinking village with a fishing problem") where the big decisions have to do with whether we need to cycle to Kino Viejo to buy fish at the dock today, whether the sea is calm enough to allow for a little canoe trip, how long one can justifiably sit out on the patio and stare at the pelicans and frigate birds and ospreys flying overhead.

Second of all, Robin himself is starting to say ¨"I actually don´t feel like driving anywhere right now." Heh.™

So. We may well be here for another week, after which we really do have to leave, as we have a date with Pam and Don in Port Aransas, Texas on the eighth of April, and we want to spend a day or two in Harlingen first.

Meanwhile, I´ve cycled to Kino Viejo three times now, and it´s becoming an easy trip. Robin went with me for the first time today, and I was reminded how I felt the first time I did it. He´s enjoying a well-earned siesta now.

We visited the tiny odds-and-ends store by the park, where we bought a graniteware pot to replace the Dutch oven, which had developed a couple of holes. The pot is nine inches across and has straight sides, so I may even be able to use it as a cake tin. We were there the other day (in a car) and bought a toaster. I think we´re that store´s best customers this week.

We also went down to the dock. They didn´t have any flounder or snapper today, so we bought shark - a first for me. We had been home about half an hour when one of the neighbours appeared with three fish for us - of course. I think we now have enough seafood to last the rest of the trip.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

When we cycle the six miles up Calle del Mar to Hotel La Playa, we push through or zig around drifts of sand that have blown up from the beach. On the way back, the drifts are more like dunes, having crossed the road and fetched up against the opposite curb, so we must ride artfully around them while careening down the hill from the hotel, all the time avoiding the traffic driving along the road - especially the bus from Hermosillo, which comes through once an hour.

One day we hitched a ride with our new friend Ted, so that we could do our banking in Calle Doce and pick up some groceries from the larger supermarket there. It was a dusty trip, but fun. Ted is an ex-pilot. I think that when he drives he gets nostalgic for his 737, which made our navigation of the construction zones more exciting than it was when we drove it in the Turtle. (Are you reading this, Ted? :>)) Another day, it was very windy here, so there was neither canoeing nor cycling to be done without more effort than we were willing to expend - so we hopped the bus to Hermosillo and hit the malls - two of them, anyway, the ones that were near this end of the big, dusty, busy city. Robin had his hair cut, and we bought an exprimidor, which turns out to be a necessity here. It´s a metal device for juicing limes. I can now juice half a dozen limes for a margarita in record time - as well as season most of the meals I cook. The shrimp man has been around several times, and we have generally been unable to resist buying a kilo of shrimp. Last night I made curried prawn. Some of the prawns were so big that I had to cut them in three or four pieces to make them bite-size.

We have been out in the canoe several times. The time before last, we took a rather long trip - we were gone over three hours. By the time we got back, my arms were threatening to fall off, so I was very grateful to see the beach sliding under the bow. When I climbed out, I caught my foot on the canoe and the next thing I knew, the canoe was tipping over, having been tossed by a wave, and Robin was tumbling out at the stern. I only got wet up to my chest, but Robin went right under, and of course he banged one of his ankles (his ankles being his Achilles heel, as it were). We managed to empty and right the canoe and drag it up onto the beach, and when we got out to the road with it, a gentleman walking along noticed our dripping and bedraggled condition and offered to help carry the boat back to the RV park. We went out again yesterday, and I am pleased to report that I climbed out with grace and style.

When we first got here, I reported that I was practising the art of staring into the middle distance. Lately, it seems I don´t have two minutes to rub together. This morning I went over to the club for the 8:15 am exercise (weights and stretching class), and I stayed for the 9:15 am "Leslie Sansone Walk Away the Pounds Express" and did the whole three miles. When I got home, starving, I took a shower, then made coffee and got as far as cooking Robin´s breakfast before company started arriving. It´s now after 4:00 pm, we´ve been socializing all day (I did manage to feed myself somewhere along the line), and we have a date to be at the club in a few minutes for a dinner - with local kids doing folk dances. It is to raise funds for the secondary school, as was the dinner we went to the other night at the park . We are having a wonderful time, and it will be very hard to leave on Monday.

My proudest moment came when Ted and I cycled all the way into Kino Viejo (finally - I´d been meaning to do that for weeks). It was a nine mile ride to the pier, where we went to buy some fresh fish, only they didn´t have any that day! So we rode to the tortilleria and bought half a kilo of tortillas - four hot, the rest cold - and sat outside, wolfing down the hot ones before we rode back home. I B strong like bull.

It´s time to go to the club now. I shall try, really I shall, to come back between now and Monday.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It´s Day 4 at Kino Bay RV Park, and the living is easy. We took the canoe out a couple of days ago, paddled up the coast a couple of coves, stopped to do some shelling, and paddled back. Yesterday I did our laundry at the onsite laundromat, and I hung the sheets and towels out on the big communal clotheslines. There are a dozen or so long lines on which - if I read the sheets correctly - about three of us were drying our washing yesterday. Mine was the bright floral and plain white lot, which contrasted nicely with the dark, earthy-looking stuff next to it. The contrast served to prevent mixups. The trick is not to do your laundry on the same day as the other ´bright floral and white´people.

Anyway, it´s a good thing I did it yesterday, because after a muggy night, a front has moved in. It´s cloudy and windy, and this morning it felt cool outside, even though the thermometer registered 22C (72F?). We were planning to take the canoe out again this morning, but that will have to wait. Rain threatens, and although it´s generally an idle threat here, a storm on the water is not to be trifled with. Mañana.

Also mañana, though if we canoedle tomorrow it will probably be the day after mañana,we really must go to Hermosillo or at least Calle Doce to get some more money and do our shopping. We´ve established that the bus runs once an hour into Hermosillo. We´ve timed it. It´s much more prompt than Nanaimo´s buses - and it will stop at Calle Doce. I looke Calle Doce up on my map, and couldn´t find it. My neighbour Saundra informed me that I would never find it, because its real name is Miguel Aleman. Everybody just calls it Calle Doce (12th Street), because that´s what it is. Hmmm.

Today I stuck pretty close to home, because I heard that both Martin the vegetable man and the nameless drinking water man were due to roar through the park around noon. When Martin arrived, all we ladies descended upon him like a flock of veggie vultures. As usual, I bought far more vegetables than I have room to store. I´m going to have to go get some ice and put the vegetables in the cooler, lest the fridge explode.

Speaking of food, I informed Robin yesterday that while we´re here, I´m going to have to be a fishetarian (piscetarian?) lest I die of culinary boredom. I couldn´t even find a whole bean in the local grocery store - only canned refried beans. Now, I do like refried beans, but not every day with never even a bit of tofu for protein variety. Well. Timing is everything. Five minutes after I made my statement of intent, Felix the prawn man showed up at the door, selling prawns for $18/kilo or $30/2 kilos. I bought one kilo. Half an hour later, Saundra strolled over with half a dozen rock bass filets. Her husband, Vern, had gone fishing. I cooked 16 of the prawns (about 1/4 of the total) and set them aside. Last night we feasted on rock bass sauteed in olive oil with a little garlic. I tossed in some pico de gallo I had made the day before, then added the prawns just before the mixture was cooked. Oh, yum.

The filets were a thank-you from Saundra for the pineapple upside-down cake I had made the day before, which was a thank-you for the fresh tomatoes and oranges from her garden. I guess it´s my turn. Strawberry shortcake tomorrow, thanks to Martin´s visit.

So far, I am making no progress on my knitting. I am getting some reading done, and I get out on my bicycle every day, but mostly I am perfecting the art of sitting quietly, staring into the middle distance. I think that´s about to change, though. I was strolling through the RV park a while ago, and I discovered the bocce court.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Oh, where to begin? We spent our first Mexican night at Rocky Point (Puerto Peñasco). We had heard so much hype that we were both curious. It involved a detour of 50 miles or so, but we did it anyway. I did get to fly my kite there, but that was about the most exciting thing that happened. The RV park was more like a parking lot than anything else. If it hadn´t been on the beach, it would have had nothing going for it - but there were hundreds of people there, happy as could be. Go figure.

So the next morning (yesterday) we set out for Bahia Kino. We went directly south on a road that the map showed as disappearing for 30 or 40 kilometers at one point, but there were road signs pointing to the town we wanted to connect to, so we were brave. Sure enough, the road goes through now. It´s a very long road. Some eleven hours later, we finally got to Kino Nuevo, where all the RV parks are. The last couple of hours were the hardest. When we got to Hermosillo, the Sonoran state capital, we found a Ley supermarket -finally. We were beginning to thing nobody in Mexico went grocery shopping. Anyway, we shopped, and I found a lovely man who gave me directions to Kino. When we pulled away, Robin drove, which I thought was a big mistake, because I´m much more patient with big city driving than he is.

I was right. We hadn´t gone three blocks before he was beside himself with frustration. Somehow we made it out of town, though, and figured we were an hour away from Kino. What we didn´t take into account, what with not having a clue, was the fact that most of the road between Hermosillo and Kino is under construction. Really, really under construction. Every time we went up or down one of the detour ramps I pictured the wheels on my bicycle being irreparably bent. We were traveling in a huge cloud of dust. The sun was trying to set, but we were heading directly west, so it was trying right squarely in front of us, and even though we know better than to drive at night in Mexico, we had no choice, because we couldn´t get off the road. We didn´t know which was worse - to drive this road in the dark, or to drive into the blinding sun (lovely sunset, btw). In the end, we did both. We followed the sun to its demise, and then made the rest of the trip in the dark.

We stopped at the first RV sign, and spent last night in a lovely place attached to a hotel. This morning we left and drove down the main (and only paved) street of Kino Nuevo to Kino Bay RV Park. Here, we fell in love. We booked for two days. Then we decided to stay for a month. Then we compromised on two weeks with an option.

This is their website . I haven´t gone there yet. The real thing is just fine. . We´re in site 36, one row back from the road. When we sit out on our patio, enjoying the 26 degree afternoon, we have a lovely ocean glimpse. We haven´t gone down to the beach yet, though we did bicycle through town just before lunch. The road runs parallel to the lovely sand beach (The beach appears to be much longer than the town. Explorations to follow.)

The bad news is that all that road construction is in aid of turning Kino Nuevo into the next Cancun. I´m glad we found Kino now, so we can enjoy it in peace and quiet.

Oh. The other bad news is that there´s no ATM in town. One of us has to drive back to the town that´s halfway between here and Hermosillo - or take the bus, a much more likely prospect - sometime between now and when we run out of groceries and money. Too bad.

Oh, but I love this place.

Keep well, everybody.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

We drove from Lake Havasu to something called Tonopah, AZ, where we spent the night in a well-appointed but dreadfully boring RV park. We were only a couple of miles from a huge nuclear reactor, so we left the next morning, lest we begin to glow. I'm glad we left, because yesterday found us here in Ajo, AZ. The CAA camping book listed a couple of RV parks in or near town, but when we got here we found that a whole lot of people like to stay in Ajo, and the number of RV parks is closer to ten than two. We settled on La Siesta, which was listed in the book. Its attached to a motel, costs $20 a night and comes with a lovely, clear, warm swimming pool (warm at the top, that is. The bottom of the pool is cool, so if you slip in gently, you can stand there feeling like an exotic dessert, feet cool, shoulders toasty. Mmmmm.) There's also a hot tub, and there are saguaros all around the park. We like the place so much, we've signed on for tonight as well. There were reports of a rainstorm on the way after 133 dry days, so we thought it just as well to be in town - but I think the weatherpeople were indulging in some wishful thinking. So far, it's still dry here.

Today we left markers in our spot at the RV park and drove the Turtle away. We bought our Mexican auto insurance and found the library (located in the very pretty Old Town) so I could do this travel report, and when I'm finished we'll drive 35 miles south to Organ Pipe National Monument(?) - anyway, it's a cactus park. Then we'll come back here for the night and head into Mexico tomorrow. Robin found a map that seems to imply that the road south from Rocky Point (Puerto Peñasco) has been finished, so he's researching that while I'm on the computer. If that's the case, we'll probably detour 50 miles west to check out Rocky Point. It's very popular. If the road south hasn't been finished, we'll skip that and just go straight south from the border, toward Keno and Guaymas.

We will be taking some pictures and short video clips, because we broke down and bought a camera when we were in Lake Havasu. Last night I hooked the camera up to the television and discovered that it doesn't focus very well (only two focus settings - close-up and other). I'll see if I can tweak that before I take any more videos. I like the idea of videos, because I'm able to provide a little narrative. That should make it easier to remember where and when I took the pictures.

We've been gone from home for over two weeks now. Our ten week holiday, which seemed so long when we were planning it, is racing past. I hope everyone is well and happy.