Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Una mas dia en paradiso

Another day in paradise.

Went on a pretty long kayak ride this morning, out to the island that lies about 2 miles off shore. The water was smooth and the ride in was aided by some gentle rollers. It was pretty hot though on the return trip, what little wind there was being straight at our stern. We saw a couple of sea lions alternately cresting and diving. No sign of the dolphin pod that is sometimes found here in the bay.

Spent the afternoon cruising around San Carlos after a midday repast of Carne Machaca. Had a nice visit with our friend Martin who works days at Rosa’s. We bring him pictures of the horses and he loves to hear their individual stories.

Driving around, it’s become pretty apparent that there is an ongoing influx of cash to this little locale. Lots and lots of vacation homes are sprouting up. Not sure if this isn’t the southern manifestation of our real estate boom with people mining their home equity for a place in the sun. Saddest of all are the two roads that are being cut up and around Tetas de Cabra, that mountainous beacon that has drawn the family to this place for more than half a century. Starting in the 1950’s when it served notice as the spot in the desert where one turned off for a drive across the track to the camps on the beach and more recently when it became one of the annual family outings during our Christmas visits. I’ve always managed to avoid those treks, making sure that I either didn’t have the correct shoes or that I was out counting birds when the team was assembled. I had nothing to prove, having made my bones walking up Long’s Peak in 1981 and no amount of bushwhacking through Catclaw was going to get me out on the trail. It looks like my intransigence is finally being rewarded, because pretty soon the climb is going to be crossing the back yards of Mediterranean-style starter castles. On the one hand it’s nice that I won’t have to make excuses, on the other it’s sad because this is truly the end of a tradition. A dangerous, injury plagued tradition, but a tradition nonetheless. And despite the post hike first aid requirements, there are plenty of great memories and stories associated with those climbs.

A bit about Boobies. The local cliffs serve as breeding grounds for Blue-footed and Brown Boobies. The birds survive by crashing out of the sky into small schools of fish, their aerial prowess being truly impressive. We’ve seen them by the thousands, diving into kettles of fish being driven forward by dozens of porpoise.

Lately, their numbers have declined along with their food supply. Not so many any longer here in Bahia San Francisco. A few still dive around us while we’re bobbing in the water, but nothing like the squadrons that used to own the sky.

I’ve had a few interesting experiences with them, up close and personal. A couple of years ago while out kayaking, I came upon one that was drowning in a fisherman’s net that was stretched across the entrance to the bay. Being a bird-guy, I decided to save it and paddled over, blunt-tipped riverman’s knife in hand. As I worked to set him free, he concluded that I presented more of a threat than his imminent voyage to Poseidon’s Court so he commenced to bite me. One lucky snap took off the side of my finger, and being that I was out on the sea, there was no end to the blood flow. I was cutting, he was biting and I was exsanguinating. Finally, I got tired of the incessant “clack clack clack” of his seven inch bill, so I grabbed his feet and lifted him out of the water, edge of net and all. He became completely passive at that point figuring his end was near. I finally extricated him and set him back in the water whereupon he took flight, circling the boat 3 or 4 times before sailing off. Less an avian “thank you” than him calculating whether he could get another snippet of Homo sapiens sapiens to supplement his daily fish dinner. This left me with the problem of by wound, still bleeding like a stuck pig. That was solved with a generous application of Duct Tape. My bright yellow flotation device still bears the reminders.

Today we found a bird that appeared to be close to death. It had been hanging around the beach in front of the place looking lethargic and spending most of its time sleeping. Tonight it was curled up by my kayaks when an ill-bred 5 year old boy felt compelled to yell and kick sand on it. I decided to take action. Yelling at the kid had a limited effect so I grabbed a shirt and my beach towel and went after the flagging bird. I covered him up and we decided to walk the ½ mile down to the end of the sand spit and deposit him there. At least allowing him some respite from the annoying children. Once covered, he was calm, but several times on the walk down, he freed his bill and went at me with the same “clack clack clack” that still haunts my dreams. In the end, we set him free up on a dune near the water, figuring he could at least spend his remaining hours in peace.

Dinner in tonight, My Lovely Wife cooking up another chicken based miracle in a pan. We talked at length about another trip to the Marina Cantina and decided that perhaps two “dates” in two days might be more than we could bear.

Brushing all that silliness aside, we headed out into the night. Pulling into the Cantina’s parking lot though we quickly came to the conclusion that our quest was in vain – no lights, no bar. So went spent a few more minutes driving around town looking for an opportunity to pirate a signal. But nothing appeared that didn’t require a password. That’s it, lights out until tomorrow.

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