The rugged topography below of weathered red rock mountains is breathtaking. Aluvial fans spill forth from the mountains and arroyos snake patterns in the landscape in their determined quest for the sea. Irregular fingers of land dip into steely blue water and creamy ribbons of sand outline the jagged shoreline. Half moon coves, the intoxicating color of Pariaba tourmaline, form jeweled scallops along the coastline. Small islands, the lost puzzle pieces of this aerial landscape, float weightlessly in an ocean of blue.
I am making my 4th trip this year between San Jose, California to San Jose del Cabo and the journey is much of the joy. Whereas the other three escapes here have been to recharge, write and design, this trip is timed to experience the Day of the Dead and to be creatively inspired. Visions of sugar skulls are dancing in my head!
Art picks me up at the airport in a Ford Taurus rental car. He has already spent a week in our off the grid beach bungalow but without the luxury of a car. He abhors renting cars in Mexico and when he landed last week, he opted instead to walk a mile from the air port to the bus station to catch the local bus into San Jose. The sun is blazing and his first stop is the local market where he purchases a straw hat. After refueling at a local taco stand he walks to the tourist strip to procure a taxi ride to our house; 35-45 minutes away depending on the road conditions. The second half of the drive to our house is a rutted dirt road and the taxi drivers all declined the fare. Not to be discouraged, Art asks the price of the ride to Buzzards Restaurant at the end of the paved road. Art agrees to the 200 peso price but first goes to buy a fat black marker and to find a piece of cardboard. Having procured these essentials he returns and engages a taxi ride to Buzzard’s. Dropped at the end of the paved road, Art writes ZAC’s in bold print on his cardboard sign and begins to walk the dirt road paralleling the pristine coastline. One car passes and the occupant’s wave but the second car stops and Dr. Dave give’s Art a ride to our doorstep. We now have yet another friend in our small off the grid community.
Although I am a rather good sport, Art knew that I would not be amused to repeat his mode of transportation out to our beach shack and yesterday, he rented a car and meets me at the airport holding a cardboard sign with Marty Magic printed boldly in black marker. It’s a good thing because with a week’s growth of beard and wearing his straw sombrero, I might not have recognized him. Each trip down here becomes easier as we make connections and learn simple tricks to surviving in Baja. BBB is a 10 month new, rental car agency, a mile from the airport and operated by Gringo Gary. Unlike the airport based car rental’s that charge exorbitantly and grimace when they learn where we wish to drive the car, BBB’s rates are $40 a day and Gary was undisturbed when Art tells him that we will be driving up the East Cape.
Art maneuvers our car out of the airport and along the main road into town. A week apart has been good for us and we chat happily leaving the stress of our California life at home. Before stopping at the Mega Store for supplies, Art takes me to a small tile shop he has discovered in an industrial part of San Jose. We admire small decorative tiles, choose several and run a few other mundane errands. Picking up supplies at the Mega Store is our final stop and we loose track of time in the immensity of the place and find ourselves driving back in twilight, our rental car heavily loaded with 2 x 4’s, tiles and groceries.
The fading light and long shadows makes traveling the rutted and rocky dirt road challenging and Art takes it cautiously uttering only a few four letter words when our rental car scrapes bottom. I feel a sense of magic and anticipation as we bump along and I see the familiar landmarks. The road parallels the shimmering Sea of Cortez below, an indigo blue in the twilight. The mountains are jagged purple silhouettes against the western sky, quickly turning to rose as the sun dips low behind them.
Gravel crunches as Art pulls up into our driveway and we carry our supplies upstairs. I quickly appraise our small play house and am pleased with the improvements that Art has made during the past week. Our futon is no longer on the floor but rests on a wooden platform that he has constructed using the discarded futon frame, saw horses and his ingenuity. Two new dressers divide the living area from our sleeping space, replacing the disintegrating wicker ones that came with the house. (The dresser saga will be recorded in a separate entry.) I step onto our terrace and inhale the 360 degree view, the western sky now ablaze with streaks of red and orange. We stow the perishables in the cooler, grab our Ikea solar lantern and walk the dirt road in the direction of Zac’s.
Zac’s is the only commercial establishment in this small enclave and is the watering hole and gossip center of the community. We climb the stairs up to the large open air Palapa and Carlos and Jesus greet Art by name and welcome me back. It is Taco Tuesday but early in the season and just a few tables are occupied. Jesus brings Art his usual margarita and me a glass of Pino Gricio and we dine on a combination of fish, shrimp and carne tacos and enjoy the comfortable and familiar ambience of Zacs.
I sleep fitfully this hot and breezeless October night