Monday, October 26, 2009

One Step Closer

With the departure of the container to the Port of Seattle, we are one step closer to leaving for our next adventure in South America.
Passports are ready, suitcases - yes, two each - are nearly packed, the house sitter is being briefed, the cars that run are being spread out around the county for care-taking (or is that car-taking?) and the ones that don't operate the way they should are going to be worked on by the house sitter (yea!!), utilities are being suspended, and last-minute details for being away for several months are being slowly checked off.
The shipper sent two (!!) cranes to pick up the container. Jey-hu asked the driver of the first one if I had called him and ordered both of them because I had been giving him such grief about how much stuff he was putting inside. I want to compliment both McKinney, the place where we purchased our container, and their crane contact, Skyway Towing from Renton, WA, for having a professional crew that got everything done quickly and safely.
I took a lot of pictures, like the one above, and Jey-hu was taking some as well like this one to the right, of the way that they lifted and lowered the container onto the truck for its travel to the Port. My youngest grandson loves trucks and I wished he could have been with me, but since he was not, I am going to give him a little booklet with lots of the photos we took and compose a little story for him to enjoy.

In the midst of packing, doing garage sales, errands, etc., the leaves are turning and the squirrels are grabbing up all the pits of the cherries to store away for the winter. Today it was quite mild, but by mid-afternoon (fortunately it was after the container lifting!) the wind was blowing heavily and rain was on the horizon. I think I may not miss the days of rain and greyness.

We had a lovely conversation with our Campo "director" this evening and got to see the inside of his "rammed earth home" which was very like the little structure shown below. It is not in green, nor is it quite as small, but the idea is to build with materials that are present in the area. If you go to, you will see this little shed made of rammed earth which is only one of several examples of the great diversity in design and capabilities of rammed earth structures.
The process of making a choice to go down one road or another is always more complicated than it initially appears, and once the decision has been made, the upheavals and ramifications of the choice sometimes give one a momentary doubt about the planned direction. But life presents barriers of all kinds, day by day, and part of the challenge seems to be just getting up and over them, or finding a way to work your way around it.

Making choices about what to take for three months to a remote village in South America has been challenging. Jey-hu wants to have many of his "creature comforts" and our worst disagreements have been about his perspective vs. mine... I want to have problem-solving materials and my cameras. But it's all over now, and our choices will arrive in about a month and we will see who is better served by his or her selections.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Change is in the air

The weather has changed in Washington and we are in the midst of fall with waves of rain and clouds coming onshore so that we only get little gaps of sunshine. There is something encouraging about these dreary days and the ensuing dark mornings that move us toward the winter solstice and lengthening hours once again.

But there is more change in the air, with our consideration of the possibility to spend some months this winter working for a friend of Jey-hu's in a more southern climate. His friend and his friend's wife have a goal to create an international wholistic retreat in a South American country. We have been struggling here to keep things moving, but the commercial activities have slowed to a pace well below that of the snails in our yard... so we're heading south for a few months to do some work at the retreat and consider our next goal.
The container arrived... for us to pack some of our stuff, some of the stuff needed by the Campo Crew at the retreat, and some entertainment items - guitar, tambourine and keyboard!

We have been blessed with good health, no sniffles, no colds, no flu! And we intend to keep on that path for sure. Reading a blog about the benefits of elderberries against the influenza viruses A & B reminded me of that old Tom T. Hall song where he sings about old dogs and children and "watermelon wine." (I met Tom T. when I lived in Boise, Idaho too many years ago...) But it reminds me that some of the "old-tyme" remedies really do have some value. And from what I've been reading about the H1N1 flu shot, I am NOT convinced that there has been enough work on it for it to be safer than elderberry wine...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Following the Sun

It seems like I'm a sun worshipper, but I really cannot take the credit or the blame.... for all the rain that fell on Seattle as soon as I left for Denver! Or for the balmy days and sunshine that I've enjoyed during the past week while I've been in Boulder visiting relatives.
The University of Colorado had Parent's Weekend so Pearl Street was crowded and many of the outdoor cafes were jammed with folks enjoying the autumn day. It was definitely short-sleeve shirt weather, at least until the sun began to drop a little. Then it cooled off dramatically!

Instead of the usual guitar players on Pearl, there was a chamber orchestra playing for tips...
definitely a college town showing off their best! And curiously, there was a strangely dressed lady blowing up balloons - even though clearly the crowd was well beyond the balloon-blow-up stage.
My guide suggested that there are more than the usual numbers of homeless or vagrant types panhandling on Pearl as well. No one actually approached me for a handout, or even spoke to me. I guess they just hope their grimy clothes and sad expressions will speak for them.... What an eclectic mix of society turned out today. I was glad to be walking about in the sunshine, although it was unsettling to think of poor Jey-hu slogging through Seattle in the rain.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Last night of the honey-moon

The moon is full and what a treat for our last night here! We walked on the beach for the last sunset, after an afternoon doing a special ceremony called the Temazcal, a steam bath of pre-Hispanic origin. This ceremony of purification and healing is a powerful way for anyone to re-focus energy and perhaps find special guidance.

Our 'guide' for this ceremony was a young man with a family who has been living in this area for over a decade. Trained to do this ceremony, he brought very good energy into the event and we came away glad that we had made the choice to invest time and pesos on it.

We decided to have dinner at Siempre, the on-site restaurant here at the Spa. It's focus is Asian-Mediterranean cuisine with Mexican seasonings. They don't widely advertise that the chef only chooses organic foods to cook with from local vendors. But we had eaten lunch here a couple of times, I'd had breakfast once, and we felt we couldn't go wrong. We were absolutely right! What a lovely dinner, good service and the chef came out afterwards to hear our compliments - she was delightful and very pleased we liked her creations. She said, "I love my work and put a lot of love into each meal."
That was evident with the Seared Tuna (below) that Jey-hu chose and the Prime Ribeye (right) which was my selection. She created the most interesting flavors of standard fare and her presentment was exquisite! Both meals were delivered together - a minor irritation if they are not - and nothing had been microwaved to keep it warm... a nasty little trick used even in the so-called five-star kitchens by lazy chefs who think no one will notice. GUESS WHAT? We do. And we may never say anything to you or your staff, but we for sure tell others about our experience. If you come to Pacifica, make sure you have several meals at Siempre - you will not go away hungry or disappointed!
And so tomorrow we say "Adios" to Cabo San Lucas ... but a new adventure is brewing!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Olaf heads north; we will too

"As of 4:00 a.m. PDT the center of Tropical Storm Olaf was located near 22.5 north, 117.8 west or about 530 miles west-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California. The tropical storm has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph with gusts to 50 mph. Olaf was moving due north at 12 mph. The minimum central pressure was estimated at 1002 millibars or 29.59 inches. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 85 miles from the storm's center mostly on the east side of the storm."
Photo credit: NOAA
The waves are much bigger than yesterday, and now are coming on the beach more from the NW and directly west as they were yesterday. In seeing just this much increase in wave action from a small tropical storm, it is easy to see how the rocks have gotten all dark from continuing waves hitting them higher and higher from other, larger storms.

Our last trip to the end of the Baja yesterday was glorious and the ride was rough. I didn't mind, but the other passengers weren't happy, Jey-hu excluded. Two of the men who were supposed to come with us to see Lover's Beach with their wives bailed at the last minute because they had been out on a fishing boat the day before. One of the wives said "We couldn't figure out why it was so cheap to go fishing... when they got back we heard that it was pretty uncomfortable for them." Of course it was the day the storm was passing by. This first view is from the beach side, looking back at Cabo. The marina, unable to be seen here, is located to the left.
Here are some pictures of the waves breaking on the Pacific side of the beach. Jey-hu is in the foreground also taking pictures.
It has been an incredible adventure being here, seeing all the typical tourist attractions, but it is always moderated by the levels of poverty that drive the people who live here to walk the hot sands of the beach every day to try and sell their wares.

Most of the time we are driven on routes that avoid showing us the reality of the living conditions here. But once in awhile we get a glimpse... very depressing to think that there is really enough for all, but education and control limit acquisition to certain groups. There were three cruise ships in yesterday, and on Tuesday there were five... the streets were being controlled by the 'federales,' men and women carrying glocks for sidearms and M-16's for those in military garb. One of the taxi owners said his business was slower, even with all the cruise travelers in town because people were being scared off of the downtown seeing all the guns.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Weather no threat to Cabo

Photo Credit to NOAA.
Just a brief update on the progression of the tropical depression to the west of Cabo San Lucas... it is heading W-NW at about 10 m.p.h. and will likely enter colder water tomorrow which is likely to affect further development, but NOAA forecasters say there is a 30-50% chance it will become a typhoon (hurricane in the Atlantic, typhoon in the Pacific) within those next 24 hours.

Locally we are getting mostly brilliant sunshine, with high clouds occasionally diffusing it.
The winds from yesterday have subsided significantly and the waves are coming from a more westerly direction than from the SW with much cleaner rolls and breaks, but they are still large. We have plans to take a short boat ride this afternoon, gather up some Mexican treats for friends and family back home and prepare to leave this glorious place this weekend.

Dinner at LaFrida's

The restaurant chain is named after Frida Kahlo, an artist who was popularized in Mexico during the 1980's, almost three decades after her death, and also in the movie Frida, naturaleza viva (1983), directed by Paul Leduc with Ofelia Medina as Frida and painter Juan José Gurrola as Diego, which was a huge success at the time.

Jey-hu had been to the chain's restaurant in Puerto Vallarta a few years ago and had a very good memory of dining there, so we made a reservation at the one at Pueblo Bonita at Sunset Beach for Wednesday night. The photo of the 'painting,' probably a reproduction of the original, is at the entrance to this establishment and the decor is all about the colorful aspects of Mexican heritage - very well done.

And it was not the only good thing, thankfully. The service was close to being 5 *****, and although clearly the menu was the chef's platform for his creativity, my only suggestion would be to offer at least one item which could be tastefully presented but which doesn't require using every spice in the Mexican kitchen.

My choice was the Sea Bass (shown to the left) which was delectable, just barely encrusted from the searing and appropriately moist inside - very tender. The chef from another restaurant in Cabo (recently reviewed) could take a few lessons here. It was perched (no seafood pun intended) on some diced pieces of shrimp with assorted thinly sliced vegetables in a sort of Mexican-style Ratatoille. Some people might like this sort of fish on soup deal; it was a little too slurpy for me. However, it gets a huge plus for being a really good eating experience overall.

Jey-hu selected the blackened chicken smothered in sage which he proclaimed to be tasty and also moist enough to be enjoyed; he prefers dark meat as a rule. Accompanied by a mashed potato, restructured to look like a potato without skin, and hominy grits and vegetables in an exceptional hot spice sauce, it was too much food for even the usually very hungry Jey-hu.

Still, we were persuaded to try their desserts: caramelized creme brulee for me and homemade chocolate ice cream with a sort of donut-style cookie for Jey-hu - hard to explain - and which were both unique in their own right. The added caramel in the brulee did not appeal to me; in other words, I would not order it again, but it was certainly delicious in all respects. Jey-hu said that his dessert met his expectations - cool and sweet but the chocolate ice cream was more chocolate than sweet; he liked that.

The added attraction was a Spanish/Mexican singer accompanied by a pianist which made the entire dinner event very special. Sometimes when entertainment is offered it is so intrusive it is difficult to hear your dinner companions. This was definitely not the case, even when she came over to our table, making the rounds to all.

We came away fully stuffed and satisfied, if a little undone by the large peso bill... over $1500 including the tip. No wine, no drinks, just an entree and dessert. If the dollar drops any more, we could be looking at just this kind of fee for a really good meal just over the border... yikes!