Thursday, March 08, 2007

No exercise today. None at all. Well, I did walk home from Tony's after I bought groceries for dinner, but that was it. We spent a couple of hours at Bahia Esmeralda, which is on the other side of Tetakawa. Robin and Roger wanted to go snorkeling. Unfortunately, Robin's wetsuit was too thin (3mm), so he found the water uncomfortably cold. Roger was wearing a rented 5mm, so he was okay.

The bay was beautiful, but there was no shade, so it was quite warm. I had come out without any sunscreen, of course. I was rescued by a couple of women who had in turn been rescued by somebody from Russell's diving class, which was going on at the other end of the beach. Speaking of Russell (our next door neighbour), he has turned out to be a wonderful source of information about shells - the identification and preservation thereof. He has lent me a book called The Encyclopedia of Shells and showed me how to clean and polish the ones I find. Looking in the book at the shells Australia has to offer, I'm almost convinced I might want to go there someday. Almost.

Chantal didn't come along to the beach, being between dental surgeries and feeling in need of a rest, so I had only Blitzen for company while the men were in the water. I was a little unsure about how he and I would get on - he is an awfully big dog, and he doesn't see me as an authority figure. Sometimes I think he doesn't see me at all, except as an obstacle between him and whatever it is he wants - which is usually to get closer to Roger or Robin. Anyway, my concerns were unfounded. We got on just fine, ignoring each other most of the time. He walked along in the shallow water, trying vainly to keep an eye on the guys. The only tense moment was when Robin came up out of the water with his snorkel gear on and Blitzen thought he was the creature from the black lagoon or something. This is Blitzen. I was very impressed by his willingness to pose for me.

When I wasn't taking pictures, I lay about in a lazy haze, reading my Isabel Allende novel, staring out over the water. It was a great place to be.

When the snorkeling was done, we went up to the nearby viewpoint. We saw two whales spouting - or one whale spouting twice - but no whales as such, just the spouts. Somebody at the dive shop had mentioned seeing humpbacks this morning, so that's probably what we almost saw.

We were only a hundred feet or so higher, but the view was much more spectacular.

There were a few other people taking pictures from the viewpoint, but I gather the place must be very popular because just before you get there, the road is blocked by a group of vendors who have set up stalls to sell tacky souvenirs.

Dinner this evening was chicken breast marinated in achiote, Mexican rice, and pico de gallo. I used Maria's recipe for the rice:

Mexican Rice

5-6 servings

1 cup long grain rice
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
1 to 3 cloves of garlic (to taste), chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup tomato puree
1 small can peas and carrots, or vegetable of choice

Heat oil in cazuela (or skillet) over medium-high heat. Add the rice and start stirring. Add onion and garlic. When the rice is nicely browned, add the chicken stock.

Cook until the rice is nearly done (about 8 minutes to go), stirring frequently. Add tomato puree. Three or four minutes later, add the peas and carrots, salt and pepper.

When the rice is done, remove from the heat, cover, and let stand until ready to serve.

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