Where does time go? Seven months have whizzed by. It’s been a pretty low key travel year so far – Winter in Indian Wells in Southern California, spring in Charleston, South Carolina and now summer in Northern Nevada.
However, we’ve been so busy there’s often no time to breathe (except when in yoga).
If you recall we sold our Baja house three ago but retained a parcel that’s now been in escrow for two years. Closing time is slowly approaching – the lawyers needed paperwork signed/delivered and we needed an excuse to leave the country…
So – hello Baja! It’s so exciting to be back.
We rented a car and took the new “bypass” road that runs from the pay road near the Los Cabos International Airport into downtown Cabo and then 4 miles north to the Cabo San Lucas International Airport to pick up our friend Clint who flew in from Puerto Vallarta. I wasn’t familiar with it but Bill flew there on private planes many years ago. It’s small and has only one commercial carrier that only flies domestically. Not sure why International is in its title. Perhaps it suffers from Napoleon complex.
Did I mention it was so good to be back?
We drove the corridor back to SJD to pick up Barb – stopping for photos, coconut in lime juice, dominos, and alcohol.
We headed to the East Cape staying at the Palmas de Cortez in Los Barriles for three nights.
Palmas sponsored the first all women’s fishing tournament and we arrived on its last day. It was surprising yet exciting to see tables full of women at dinner. Apparently, the seas had been rough and the fish scarce but good times were had by all. They were already planning for next year’s tournament. Normally, fishing season is all about middle-aged, gray-haired, potbellied men. (click on photos to enlarge)
The fishing Gods blessed us with calm seas and hungry marlin. Each of us had a turn at exhausting our reeling muscles as the fish were plentiful. Like Pac-Man the guys were bumping into each other when three marlin were on the three different lines at the same time. It’s quite thrilling watching them jump in and out of the water.
With all that excitement I’ve determined that fishing is like skiing. Three hours and I’m good.
The sunrises, sunsets and moonrises were stunning.
And animals rule! One of my favorite things about Baja. Unfortunately, we missed the burro pack.
What a difference to be in our old stomping grounds as a non-homeowner. Not a care in the world. To cure any remorse we might have conjured up about selling required a quick visit to our old house. While standing outside the fence, admiring the huge pool the new owners installed – the pool boys arrived and dumped an empty yogurt container full of chlorine in the pool and drove away. No vacuuming or scrubbing the sides.
Off to Clint and Barb’s old family house to see an even less cared for pool. Obviously no chlorine there! When the owners are away…. its the Baja way.
Mañana doesn’t mean tomorrow. It means just not today!
Onward, an hour drive south to Cabo Pulmo for two nights. It’s a little piece of heaven possessing a UNESCO World Heritage site/Marine Park – a haven for scuba divers and snorkelers. It’s a dusty little town with no electrical service – running on solar power and generators.
We hung out with our favorite divemaster and longtime friend Pepe who runs Pepe’s Dive Shop and Pepe’s Pizza (y otra comida tambien) Restaurant. Look up Pepe if you make it to Cabo Pulmo. He’ll take great care of you!
Lastly, we stayed in old town San Jose del Cabo. The quaintness, walkability and dining options make it a super special place to be.
It was bittersweet having to leave. We didn’t get our fill but know it’s there for next time.
It’s wedding season and nuptials on Isla Mujeres off the coast of mainland Mexico prompted us to explore a couple of nearby Caribbean countries.
The most convenient jumping off point was Miami Beach – a quick acclimation and reboot for our brains because Spanish is the primary language.
*click on a photo to see a larger view
Isla Mujeres was a stunning backdrop for a picturesque wedding. Margaritas, scuba diving and basking in the Mexican surf and sun were the perfect recipe for a perfect wedding.
We sold our Mexican home in 2016 after 12 years of ownership and it felt so good to be back in the country.
Beach life leads to city life so we headed to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico – 2nd oldest city in the New World.
Beautiful blue cobblestone streets line this hilly town rich in Spanish colonial architecture and fantastic restaurants.
We explored the 500 year old Fort San Felipe del Moro (UNESCO World Heritage site) and Fort San Cristóbal.
A highlight was our stay at the 400 year old El Convento Hotel.
Off to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic where the Zona Colonial is another UNESCO World Heritage site and rightfully named so.
A quick side note – UNESCO World Heritage Sites are spectacular! Use the link provided to read about them and be sure to add them to your list of “must sees” in your lifetime.
Santo Domingo was the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World and the site of the first university, cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress (Wikipedia).
The buildings in the old town are breathtaking. Strolling the streets you will feel as if you have traveled back in time. Clean, with flowers spilling out of planters boxes and trees reaching for the sky.
Unfortunately, just outside historic Santo Domingo garbage lines the shoreline and poverty simmers at the surface.
A 9 hour commercial bus ride took us to Haiti where poverty has boiled over and covered the country.
The bus was not crowded and seats were comfortable. However, the toilet did not flush and overflowed from fullness onto the floor. I pulled up my pant legs so the bottoms didn’t get soaked and struggled to hold my breath from the stench. A brief moment of nausea followed by lots of hand sanitizer told me the adventure had begun.
A couple hours into the ride the bus pulled over to a hut and hot meals were delivered to everyone on the bus. Luckily we had packed a lunch.
The paperwork at the border was simple and seamless. We counted 8 separate security gates between the borders. It was dry and dusty – trash everywhere. It looked like the Middle East.
After passing through the gates there were two random stops. Armed buff men dressed in high fashion jeans, skin tight t-shirts and large gold jewelry looked in the cargo holds. A shake down or just typical? The driver and other passengers weren’t phased so apparently neither were we.
The bus ride ended in Petionville just a 15 minute ride from our final destination of Port-au-Prince. We had assumed we’d catch a cab.
HA! No cabs – what would make us think that there would be cabs??? Thank goodness the man who checked the luggage tags upon arrival (wore no uniform – we assumed he had some authority since he was checking the baggage and talked to the driver) asked us if we needed a ride. Sure! We followed him to his car and waited as he cleared all the trash from his seats by tossing it on the ground.
The Marriott. The only nice hotel in the area (one of three buildings taller than a couple stories in the whole city). It was gated and protected by 4 armed guards – our own little prison since we had been told to not leave the property unless we wanted to be be mugged or worse.
Extreme poverty makes ordinary people do extreme things to survive.
We hired a driver to show us the highlights. Thoughtful, caring and protective. He too, tossed his garage out the window. Hence, a city full of garbage.
The Iron Market – gated with armed guards – a place where tourists can shop quasi safely next to the true market where 100’s of stands selling everything from pots and pans to socks displayed their wares. Shoppers we’re not but it was one of three things to do in Port-au-Prince. We were told to follow the man in charge, closely – do not deviate, go slow and don’t do anything that may excite people.
Next was the museum – again gated and armed. A garden oasis in the middle of a concrete city.
Lastly, to the top of the mountain in Petionville where the rich people lived behind tall walls with concertina wire to a restaurant full of white people for the best view in the city.
The hillsides are blanketed in homes built on top of one another. Floored by the homes – something which we had not seen before – I asked the driver to stop so I could get out and take photos. With a resoundingly “NO” (since we were in his care) I was given permission to photograph with the window down as the car slowed a bit.
The roads are chaos – narrow, no street signs with people and cars everywhere. Constant motion outside the car where, often, the car is motionless and unable to move due to the congestion.
On the way to the airport we asked the driver to take us to see the Cathedral that had all but collapsed in the earthquake. It was to be another drive by. This time with my window up.
We stopped to make a left turn and I looked down and literally right outside my window was a dead man lying on his back in a pool of blood. His motorcycle had been picked up but he and a pile of clothes laid untouched. No cover and nothing cordoned off. Hundreds of people sat idly on the nearby steps and a cop was quasi directing traffic but other than that life just went on as if this was an everyday occurrence.
After sitting in the same spot for a few minutes it was determined we had to go right to eventually go left. 10 minutes later we doubled back by the accident and nothing had changed. No cover, no cordoning, no ambulance – nothing.
I don’t know if the misery of the Haitian people has always been present. But they are not recovering from the 2010 earthquake that killed 230,000 people and rendered 3 million homeless. It seems to be lawless and un-governed where sickness, hunger and hopelessness dominate.
It was a haunting and heart breathing short 3 day trip in Port-au-Prince. In 90+ countries we have not experienced a place from the inside of a car. What to do? How can a country so poor evolve?
It started with firing up the old Jeep on the first day in Baja after a 4 month leave. Upon opening the glove box to discover a fluffy nest, opened ketchup packages and shredded napkins a loud grinding sound belched out from the air conditioner – a glutenous meal had by the fan.
An eerie silence followed… dead fan equals dead rodent.
The poor mouse – once fat and happy – belly full of ketchup – slipped to an untimely death. Good news though – maggots were fat and happy. Fan now working.
We use Vonage (internet connected telephone) when we are in Baja – it allows unlimited phone calls to the USA for a low monthly price. Calls since arriving were sketchy at best.”I can’t hear you.” “Are you moving around?” “I only hear every 3rd word.”
I picked up our local phone to call the internet provider for assistance and the phone line was dead.
The Telmex service man checked the box at the street and found the telephone line had been completely sliced in half and the internet line was dangling – fluffy nest in the corner of the utility box. No ketchup packages. No nada.
Victory for the local phone – internet still sketchy.
We headed South to the quaint pueblo of Cabo Pulmo, host to the biggest protected coral reef in Baja, to go diving. We gathered up all of our gear – BCDs, regulators, dive computers,snorkels, masks, fins and wetsuits.
A struggle of sorts always ensues when getting into these tight thick neoprene skins – the tighter the warmer.
Creature of habit – I started with my right foot – unbeknownst to me the bottom of the leg was turned inside – a lazy “put away” job from the last dive. White knuckled and red in the face I pushed my foot firmly into the leg of my wetsuit. After a few moments of struggling my foot shot out of the leg surrounded by….. all at once…..a mouse nest.
Panic ensued followed by giggles.
Would you like them in a house?
Would you like them with a mouse?
I do not like them in a house.
I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.