On top of the rock

On top of the rock
Our Cliff

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Today is the day our stuff was delivered. 12 weeks and 2 days after it pulled out of our driveway in a 40 foot, sealed container, it arrived, here in Todos Santos in a 32 ft truck. Hmm.... our first alert something may not be right. We knew customs had been through things, but how they shrunk our stuff into a 32 ft truck, we could not imagine.

We knew the truck was to arrive this morning so in anticipation we drove to the Pemex, the national gas station, to see if our CROWN RELOCATION truck may be there. We had heard that sometimes truckers sleep there over night. Sure enough, there it was. There were three guys, still asleep inside, with doors open so they could get some air. It was 8 am and Maurice woke them up. We got their coffee order from their yawning heads and I went inside the OXOX store at Pemex to get them three café negros, with pane dulce. The pane dulce was my idea. I thought pane dulce (sweet bread) which are donuts, of sorts, would be nice since we woke them up.

We all drove to the place we will be storing about half our things until our place is done. We rented two storage units. The rest of our things will be brought to our bodega. Some to use for “living” and the rest are Maurice’s tools.

Once the back of the truck was opened the first thing to be unloaded was a beige “suede” sofa sleeper we bought just before we left. It is for our bodega. It was ripped along an edge and the rip was stained with red. Curious...?...Must have been dragged along something red. The next item to be unloaded was our really good, really expensive down filled sofa. The arm was ripped. Next we unload an antique buffet with wood gouged out of it. O.K. I am now hyperventilating!!! The first three items are damaged. With the three big pieces removed from the end of the truck we could look in and see how terrible it was packed. The more we removed the worse it became. It looks like they literally threw things on top of other stuff. Two antique floor lamps had the tops broken right off the poles. We had boxes upon boxes of fragile items, marked FRAGILE and they were squished down under heavy pieces of furniture. We bought 30 plastic bins to neatly store things in. Almost every single one of them was broken.

Good news is that the sentimental antique things that REALLY REALLY matter to me were not damaged. THANK GOD!!! No, I really did. I know it was selfish, but I did.

Bad news is how do we even begin to get compensated for all the broken and damaged things?? Over the next few days we will go through boxes and figure out exactly what we are dealing with. We did purchase insurance but I am guessing they will blame CROWN RELOCATION since they re-packed our stuff. If it would have stayed in the 40 ft container we would have been fine. In the meantime at least we know our stuff wasn’t stolen…oh except for the rest of the stuff that filled the 40ft container! Wonder who got all of Maurice’s shelving ?? Maurice's party tent?? Maurice's drill press?? Maurice’s trailer......?? If we see it on the back of a truck I think Maurice would not longer be “sweet Maurice!”!! Maurice knows there is no hope in hell that we will somehow be compensated, according to him was just plain and simple theft. There is so much missing that the guys on this end were pointing out on our original packing slip “numero 259 is not here”...along with about 35 other numbers. What is in these things we still have to cross check, figure out, and try to get some type of resolution.

We are certainly living day to day on a roller coaster. Really, really UP..and now..and now as the roller coaster is shooting down I think I am going to throw up.

P.S. No tsunami here. Since we have no TV if we were not told of what may be coming, we would have never even known. A lovely sunny day...albeit a terribly emotional one.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Casita numero uno

So much for wanting to build a house that hugs the cliff and looks like it has been there for years!!!

This dream was so important to us we even designed our house in sections, each one on a separate level of the cliff. The living room, kitchen and one guest room are on one level. A few steps up, in a separate building and still hugging the earth will be our bedroom. The two casitas will be lower than all this, again, hugging the cliff. Nothing huge, just unique.

To create levels and elevations Don Jose has the workers build wooden frames so they can see where the floors will be. This is all done by “eye”. The main building has been done and today they were working on casita number 1. What we discovered is that because of the steepness of the cliff this casita’s retaining walls will be about 6 meters high!! That is over 18 feet! We watched one of the workers, on a hand made ladder, climbing up and putting the cross pieces of wood on the previously placed poles to mark the elevation. OH MY GOD!! Seriously!!! IT IS CRAZY!!

Maurice came to me, as I was painting the bodega….again….I must have been a little bored and gees it had been a month since it had been painted!!….anyway, Maurice came to me and said….. “YOU'VE GOT TO SEE THIS!!!”. I said, Ya, I know!!! He said, “NO, YOU HAVE GOT TO COME SEE THIS!!!” I asked if it was bad??!! He said, “I don’t know”. So up we go and I will tell you, it is crazy. It made me nauseous watching them and I could not shut my gapping mouth. What the heck are we doing? I mean we KNOW our plans. We KNOW what we are creating here. We have been thinking and planning it for 4 years…..BUT MY GOD!! When you see it happening!!!!!!!….that is another story. It is breathtaking. I do not mean in an arrogant way, I mean in a way that is actually takes your breath away. I do not know how they are going to pull it off, but of course they will. This is what they do. I am in awe of them every day!!!

As of now our project is becoming more visible and I am sure we will be getting more visitors as the days go by. Usually everyday we have someone looking for work, (SO SAD) and few “nosy” people who drive back to see what is happening. I guarantee you they all are thinking the same thing…….


Today it kind of felt like that, in a really good, exciting, and scary way.

P.S. Where the guy in the red shirt's head is is right where the floor will be. There will also be 7 foot walls on top of this!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Just for fun

Just before sunset on day 3

Thursday, February 25, 2010


When the Ya Ya’s and the Na Na’s were here Maurice drove them crazy with a little Mexican diddy that went something like this:


After this seemingly unending refrain, a very deep resounding Mexican voice comes in low…..than gets louder as he sings/yells his song.

Maurice played this so much that it got REALLY irritating. Maurice even brought it into a restaurant we were in and asked them to play it, which they did. It is one of those crazy songs that you can not get out of your head. I would walk around singing


I wonder if our friends will ever come back. Maybe if we promise to loose the CD.

The CD was a gift to Maurice from Jose, one of the workers who helped build the bodega. They would play the CD endlessly and than gave it to Maurice as a gift when the bodega was complete. Actually there are some very nice songs on it. This is not one of them.

Jose is one of the workers now building our project. He is in command when Don Jose, the BIG BOSS, is not around. Jose is great! Cute, happy and always singing. Jose’s job the last two days has been to prepare the steel wire that will create our columns. They will also be used to make sections that will lay on top of the footings, all along the perimeters and will than be filled with cement. There are 6 other workers on this job. There are another two are up on top hand tying the re-bar.

Here is what happens. First we have solid pieces of steel wire that are about 100 meters, or three football fields long delivered. Each of these steel wires is stretched to their max with the help of a backhoe on one end (of course driven by you-know-who) and a dump truck on the other. After they are stretched out at the very front of our land, and the neighbors, they are cut into sections of varying lengths, depending on what area of support they will be used for. Most of these pieces are than bent to form squares of varying sizes. This is done with the help of a wood frame that was created next to our bodega and a large metal post; and a lot of man power. Piece after piece is done this way, in the sun, by Jose and one of the other workers. They have done about 7 or 800 so far….by hand.
Next there is the re-bar. The re-bar comes in about 22 meters, or 70 foot lengths. This also has to be cut. How do you cut re-bar by hand?? You make a cutting machine. To me, a woman, it looks kind of like a giant cigar trimmer, only it is secured to a large piece of wood and it takes two workers to push it down to cut.

So now we have re-bar and wire squares. Some of the re-bar is placed on the “square making” frame, and the ends are bent. The others are left straight. Then these are all hand carried up the cliff. UP THE CLIFF!!
Solid, heavy pieces of steel. The re-bar is put through the wire squares and hauled up.

The two guys on top than take some of the previously cut steel wire and hand tie each square onto four lengths of re-bar. They make long rectangular sections. So far they have done all the columns for the main house as well as created the larger frames that will help secure the floors to the footings. I am sure there is a word for what these things are called….I do not know it.

Yesterday they were working outside our bodega, and Jose, as usual was singing. For fun, Maurice turned on his CD player opened his truck doors and out came:


Until the day I die I will always hear in my head 6 workers belting out this song in unison. Every word, every EYE EYE EYE EYE….happy does not even begin to describe their reaction to the song. They were almost levitating; with their silvery black hands, colored this way from handling the metal, and handkerchiefs tied around their heads and shoulders to protect them from the scorching sun, they were singing and laughing and swaying to the music.

My word!! Could life get any better!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


.....We drove to LaPaz to pick up some things in anticipation of the arrival of our goods. FYI, We did hear today they are leaving Mexico City with our stuff tomorrow. By next Monday we should have everything....well everything that makes it. I guess "everything" remains to be seen. Anyway we drove to LaPaz but before we left in the morning we got a call from Senor Backhoe Retro. He informs us that he needs to renew his license for working and it will cost him $5000. Not sure of his intention, Maurice says, "Oh". Finally he asks if Maurice can help him. Maurice says, no. This was VERY hard for Maurice, and when he told me I felt really bad. He said he would work it off, and I know he would have, but $5000!! WOW!! We will pay him that much over the next couple of months and we trust him, (why??? Who knows, but we do) anyway, Maurice told him no. Of course, than we start panicking, thinking what will do without him. He is the only one who will drive to the top of the cliff, etc etc. Anyway, we decide this should be Valente’s problem....ya right!!

So we are driving to LaPaz. Actually, I am driving (YEHA!) and Maurice gets another phone call. I can tell he is speaking with our Senor by the words I am picking up. Next Maurice tells me to pull over, so I do, thinking he requested that cause he needs a better connection. Who pulls up behind us??!! SENOR!!! Come on! That is bizarre. He had called because I passed him and he saw us. He also wanted to tell Maurice he got the money so not to worry he would not let us down...gees...he really is a nice guy.

We have had trouble finding a pump that can actually pump the water from the bottom of the cliff to the top. We found out we can get it from the parking lot up, but not from the bottom. Senor thinks he found us one and told us to follow him to the place in LaPaz. We do. See how nice he is??

We enter into a small, perfectly neat and spotless store. It is a store that sells pumps, tools, parts, and camping things. (Well here they would be considered things to live with, not camp with) The store is filled with everything that a manly man would like. All of the items are displayed in perfect order. The items on the shelves are all faced the same way. The things on the ceiling are hung in the exact same direction. Talk about an anal Libra!! My word, I would love them to come help organize us!! In addition to the neat and tidy displays, there is a grey linoleum floor. The floor was laid in the 1950's for sure. The linoleum, although clean, is cracked and well worn, as you can imagine a 50 year old floor to be. Not only is the floor dated, the whole place is.

There are 12 inch tall typewriters on the desks. There are no plugs in them. There is not a computer in sight. There are three very large desks. One for the original owner, who now must be 80, or so. He is sitting there. The next, assuming from similarity in appearance, belongs to his son, who must be around 60. The remaining one is for his grandson, who is about 35 and thinks he is cool. Slicked hair, tight shirt and pants, big belt buckle, cowboy boots, and a strut when he walks. On his desk, under glass, and partially covered by his typewriter, are pictures of women. They are in various poses of nudity. A few on stripper poles, one holding up her tank top, sans bra, and smiling into the camera; all very Betty Grable-ish, without the class. I could not stop looking at them. I felt like I was in a time warp and when I walked outside there would be an Edsel driving by for sure!! I guess we need to explore beyond Home Depot! There are probably 100’s of such places if we looked. I am also certain that I am one of the few women that have gone in there. The grandson was proud of his desk, though. I could tell by his smile and swagger. Also, they did not have our pump.

Now, two days later I sit here watching the workers. I am going to end this blog and start another about what they are doing. I am totally captivated watching these incredible hard workers, work...in the hot, blazing sun. All day long. I am in the car with a sun shade over the windshield, sipping water out of my aluminum water container with a lovely breeze passing by. I would be in a beach chair, on the deck in front of the bodega, but I feel guilty doing nothing so I am hiding in the car. They know I am here, but I feel less lazy when I hide.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


This is what it will cost to get our things from Aduana....Mexican customs. We are so relieved! They sure played that right!!!! If they would have told us this two months ago we would have freaked. Now, we are thrilled it is not $10,000!!!! Technically we could in reality pay 30% tax on Maurice’s tools, which he undervalued at $8000. They did not charge us any tax. The charges are only (see I am saying ONLY!!!!) for handling, their time for rifling (I am sure that is a good choice of words) through our things, and storage!! STORAGE!! Oh well...today we wire them the money. If they leave for here tomorrow we should (hope) have our things by the weekend.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day three of construction

O.K. I promise I will not go through everyday of construction with you but here are the highlights of day three. Senor Backhoe Retro, (who really is a nice guy and wants Maurice to go into business with him and buy a $30,000 retro from his cousin in Tijuana) has two guys loading the cement blocks onto skids so he can drive them to the top of the cliff. One by one they load these blocks onto skids. These are the same blocks which were just unloaded yesterday. Then all three of them; the two laborers and Senor Backhoe, ride up the cliff with the two labors in the scoop of the backhoe, so they can unload the blocks onto the ground; block by block.

750 blocks. 750 blocks loaded unto a truck and delivered to our place yesterday. 750 blocks individually removed from the skids they were on and placed on the ground. 750 blocks re-loaded today unto skids on a backhoe and driven to the top of the cliff. 750 blocks removed from skids and the backhoe so they could be used to build our home. Watching this over two days is rather frustrating. Here are our options.

Option one. Pay 6 pesos a block to be delivered as they have been. Than pay Senor Backhoe Retro to take them up top. We hired him to do this. Today he asked Maurice who would pay his two guys? Maurice said, “YOU WILL. I hired you. You deal with it.”

Option two. Pay 7.5 pesos per block and have them delivered to the top. Wow!! Two of the guys who walked up the cliff yesterday offered this. Cool….EXCEPT…they have inferior block….which we learned today we also have now. The 6 peso per block, block, (from option one) left many broken ones through all the handling.

Option three. Pay 8 pesos per block for the best block there is but we have to worry about getting it wherever it needs to be. They are a half hour away right now. When you need 20,000 blocks you tend to really discuss these options.

Poor Maurice is stuck in the middle. Maurice speaks the language. I do nothing. Well, I tell him what to translate to everyone we deal with and I know I am driving him C R A Z Y…he says, no I am not, but adds that I may want to study Spanish instead of reading a couple books a week……O.K. point taken. BUT even if I learn the language and start irritating the Mexicans it will not matter. I am a woman. Men do the business in Mexico.

Now tomorrow Maurice has to go meet with the union leaders. UNION, you say?? Yes, the Union!!! You see, Senor Backhoe Retro is part of a Union. A Union where there are 9 groups involved. Of these 9 groups only one will drive our things to the top of the cliff…..our Senor. Unfortunately for us, and what we learned today, is that for every delivery we receive they all have to take turns. So for 8 deliveries, out of 9, they will dump our stuff at the bottom of the cliff. I mean the sand, gravel, cement. The one delivery Senor gets, out of the 9, will automatically be taken to the top. For the other 8 deliveries he has to bring them up for us. We pay for this!! O.K. DO WE NOT HAVE A SAY ABOUT THIS??? Apparently, no…but Maurice will go meet with some of the union tomorrow and explain how stupid they all are…well, he won’t say that, but I would.

Where will he meet them?? On the side of the road where they all hang out…waiting for their turn.

I could not make up a sillier story. And the worst part is when Valente came today, to get money, and we told him of the situation, he said…ahh, the Union. You can’t really do anything about that!! Thanks for sharing Valente!! Thanks for the heads up Valente. By the way WHY ARE YOU NOT DEALING WITH THIS?? YOU ARE IN CHARGE HERE!!!!! HELLLLLLLOOOOOOOO YOU TALK TO THEM…

I will let you know if he pops up tomorrow to help Maurice with this controversy. I am betting the answer is no.


Enter in the sound of harps…..laughter…..elation unlike any other known to man. Enter the joy that makes you feel like you are going to explode, the smile you can not hold in. Enter in Steely Dan, because I am really not a harp person. Enter in breaths that you attempt to take but you never really can complete one, thus is the excitement. Enter in peace. This is how we feel when we are on Arriba de la Roca. Up there today, even when I am running around reminding all the workers, DIDN’T I TELL YOU YESTERDAY - ya ya, por favor- NO BASURA NO BASURA (no garbage) because it will blow off the cliff into the sea; we have found our heaven. Every single solitary problem we have to deal with… Every single solitary issue that upsets us beyond belief…. Every single stupid thing someone does around us….when we climb to our pinnacle, we breathe, smile at each other, and know it is all worth every single solitary second.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day two of Mexican construction

I know it is impossible to mix cement without water but I figured out construction itself would be completely impossible without Maurice. Yes, this is only day two and here I go complaining BUT…..we have noticed that since Maurice is involved with this project no one wants to make any decisions without him. This will probably be good in the long run but today it was rather irritating. For months now, Valente has known we were starting construction…on a cliff…with no water or electricity. When Maurice asked how the workers would get water Valente said that would be the construction people’s problem. WRONG! It turns out it is really Maurice’s problem.

Today, with an empty pila on top of the cliff, bags of cement and sand, ready to be mixed there was no water. First Valente calls (he is in LaPaz and we are on site) and asks Maurice what we should do. That’s the construction people’s problem, remember???…of course he does not tell Valente that. Next Valente tells Maurice we need to buy an additional pila. (that would make 4 we would own) Maurice, in his sweet way, says NO FRICKIN WAY!!!! WE ALREADY OWN 3 OF THESE THINGS AND WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THIS TODAY!!!!!!! THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE MIXING CEMENT!! YOU WERE HERE YESTERDAY AND NO ONE MENTIONED ME SPENDING ANOTHER $700 TO BUY A PILA.

Sensing Maurice’s frustration Valente tells Maurice he will personally buy the pila back from him so we order a pila. The pila comes…of course empty. Now what do we do, they ask?? We attempt to pump 2500 liters from one of our filled pilas into this pila but Maurice calculated that at the speed of our pump it would take 2 ½ hours and the water would still need to be pumped again, up to the top of the cliff. It was 1pm at this time. So off Senor Backhoe Retro goes, oh yes, he is our new best friend, and fills the tank from???…who knows where. Next we see him driving his truck all the way up the cliff with water splashing out the top of the filled pila. We were waiting for the pila to catapult off the end of the truck but it didn’t. Now the water still needed to be pump UP the remaining 60 meters that rises above the parking lot.

So 2 ½ hours later (after we went and bought an additional hose) there is water on top of the cliff and ready to make cement….but wait?? Where is the worker's cement mixer?? Stored down in our bodega. Of course none of the workers thought about getting it earlier in the day. Why would they?? It makes sense they would wait until the exact minute they needed it! The process of bringing it up the cliff takes another hour - plus 5 workers, Maurice and his truck, with a newly added trailer hitch to pull up the mixer.

The day ended. Thank heavens they are all not being paid by the hour, but by the job. WE HOPE!! Tomorrow there will be water and it appears we are ready for step two. Mixing of cement. We still need Senor Backhoe Retro to bring the 8 skids of concrete blocks up the cliff. The concrete blocks that were delivered earlier today in two truckloads, and unloaded, one by one, onto the ground. Tomorrow they will have to be re-loaded, one by one onto Senor’s truck, so they can be taken up the cliff.

Mexican construction…..hmmm…..patience really is a virtue!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

And they’re off…………

The race is on. 6 months from now will we really have our house on the cliff? That is what they tell us.

Today 10 men arrived on Arriba de la Roca to begin construction on our dream. Materials had been delivered and they spent the day staking out the perimeter of the main house and figuring out levels. They do this all with the use of a plumb bob, a water level and strings. They also had rebar, wood posts and a plastic drafting square to measure angels. Incredible to watch. Our son-in-law, Chris, who builds homes for a living, would be shocked and probably amazed at the simplicity of their tools and the results they receive.

Of course I cried. I was so excited!! So today there were ten workers, along with Valente who is our engineer, Maurice, me and......drum roll please.....Senor Backhoe Retro there all day. Of course he is now part of our daily life! He is the guy who is driving the backhoe up on top of the cliff to deliver materials. He has gotten quite good, since that first training day last month. (GEES that seems like a year ago!!!!) We will pay him by the load, not by the hour. He spent the entire day there today and only did three runs up the cliff. I think he was just amazed at what is happening there. It truly is incredible!

Now that we are so visible, up on top with a backhoe, others are coming by looking for work or wanting to offer us supplies. We watch them climb up the 200 meters or about 700 feet to the top, cause they are afraid to drive. They arrive huffing and puffing and, even though we all know it is there, they marvel at the ocean, the mountains and view.

We are truly the most blessed people on earth.

Well I say that today. Stay tuned as I will flip that around the next time we hit a road block....probably tomorrow!!!

For now. We are thrilled and excited. Even if everything we own is still sitting in Vera Cruz!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Princess and the peas

Once upon a time I had a friend who was turning 50. For years she spoke about all of us going to a castle in Sicily to celebrate this milestone. Through a series of events and magical happenings, her Sicilian dream castle was transformed into a Hacienda on the ocean in Mexico. In this dream Hacienda, the Ya Ya’s and the Na Na’s were to spend three glorious nights, before traveling to the Sea of Cortez. Our Princes Ann and her entourage would have three days filled with fabulous scenery, grand architecture, and fine wine and tasty meals.

In this scenario Maurice, Megan and I are the peas. Not that we were the irritating little things under Princess Ann’s mattress....But originally Megan was to stay with Maurice and me in our bodega. Since we have nothing to furnish our place with we needed to find an alternative. We found this alternative in a darling little casita on the beach and it was here that we snuggled into our pod at the base of the castle.

Our days were spent in the Hacienda with the other royals. At night we walked down to our palapa roofed, cute as can be, pod. We would sleep to the sound of the unending, and often rather irritating, ocean surf, pounding 50 feet from our front door. High above us, in the castle, the others slept in opulent surroundings. While they slept on Egyptian cotton sheets, we had three quilts on our beds since our palapa roof was open underneath and the cold sea air circulated around our heads. I started sneezing on day 3. Megan coughed daily. Maurice stayed healthy in our igloo, of sorts.

Daily when we would walk up to the castle, climbing the long, stone stairway, we would see people on the beach watching us. Were we the workers hired to serve the royals??? Yes, they surely thought we were the serfs of the kingdom. We did not mind. We loved our pod and enjoyed our days with the royals. A castle like hacienda built with twelve guest rooms, including one room with its own helicopter pad outside on the private patio, was filled with only Ya Ya’s and Na Na’s. This was truly a once in a lifetime dream.

During our time in our castle we experienced:

Buying fresh fish from a local fisherman as he came in from the sea. Yellow fin tuna and red snapper filleted for us on the boat that we grilled on our private patio.

Ann’s 50th birthday celebration. A wonderful Italian feast in Todos Santos in our private room waited on by three servers. This time Maurice, Megan and I were certainly not the serfs! Ann wore a pink fur hat with a flashing light that said “KISS ME I AM 50”. Everyone did.

Strangers walking into our castle, hoping for a glimpse of the royals within, only find one of us naked in her room. Certainly not part of our plan.

Our Superbowl celebration at the Sand Bar. $1 tacos, two for one drinks, a bunch of rowdy patrons and a memorable moment when one of us got accidentally head butted by a dancing lawyer from California. He was rocking out and playing air guitar to “Who are you??” by the Who. For 24 hours we were certain her nose was broken.

Daily walks on the beach and swims in our private swimming pool.

Eating burritos on the street…with the locals.

Shopping the local market that was held during the Annual Art Festival in Todos Santos.

All 9 of us standing on Maurice's and my cliff on the opposite end of the bay we were on, dreaming of the time we will all be back there together again, in our pool this time, drinking margaritas. We all shared our dream, both on the cliff and down below on the beach.

Yes in the first part of our adventure, here at the Hacienda, it was magical....especially for us three peas in the pod.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Oh my God I think I have truly lost my mind. It has been 10 days since the Ya Ya’s started arriving here in the Baja. After a week of different adventures and celebrations, this past Wednesday we left the populated areas of Cabo San Lucas to drive almost 3 hours up a rutted, washboard dirt road; destination Cabo Pulmo. There were two cars in our caravan. Our truck was in the lead, followed by the VW Jetta that was rented at National Car Rental for the week. Brian, Ann and Megan followed Maurice and I in the rental car as the rest of our group stayed at Cabo Surf; a lovely boutique hotel on the ocean in Cabo. Cabo Pulmo is on the East Cape and its claim to fame is its coral reef. There is even a quote from Jacques Cousteau stating “Cabo Pulmo is the earth’s aquarium“.

After a few photo stops, as the drive is spectacular and we had some whales sightings, we finally got to the Cabo Pulmo dirt road that veered off the dirt road we were on. We knew we were there when we saw a sign that was hand painted in rust, tan and aqua shades. The sign read Welcome to Cabo Pulmo. 200 mtrs DIVING SNORKELING KAYAKING SPORT FISHING GROCERIE STORE RESTAURANT
200 mtrs ahead you could see the blue water pila in the sky.

Between the sign and the 200 mtrs it took to get to “town” we passed an overturned red RAM van. No windows, no tires, and painted with one gold and two light blue turtles on it. (the turtles are the town’s logo, so to speak) This van has been there for a long, long time.

I did not know that in the car behind us Ann and Megan were freaking out wondering where we were taking them!!! This was my third trip to Cabo Pulmo, so to me I was not surprised. I was excited. The town itself has ten homes that are lived in all year round. There are 5 American and 5 Mexican families. The rest of the town is either occupied by part time home owners, or people like us, tourists, who rent our accommodations for a chance to snorkel there. For the two days we were there there were wind advisories and the ocean was off limits. Very sad when you go there to enjoy the sea.

The place we stayed was spectacular. Lovely, quaint, charming. This is not about this, though, this is about me loosing my mind. Remember, I love Cabo Pulmo!! The snorkeling is fabulous and it is has a surreal environment. We have decided that people who live here must come to hide. Old hippies, nudists, mental patients, or ex-cons, who knows; but there is zero crime. That is what we have been told. We absolutely believe that.

The town consists of a couple of dive centers, a 50 sq ft shop that sells gifts items, and a few places to eat that have grown out of some of those 5 Mexican familie’s homes. There is also a restaurant above one of the dive shops. Also… there is a creepy rusted playground surrounded by barbed wire. Inside are monkey bars, a swing set, a slide and a merry-go-round. These were once painted red and white, but that was a long time ago. There is also a small vehicle that drives around playing music and selling sweets. The music is very disturbing and eerie, well not if you are Mexican child I assume. Megan and I started fantasizing we were in a Stephen King movie. Kujo was certainly lurking behind a cactus. To increase the weird factor the town was windy. I mean really windy. So windy that when we walked around we felt like our legs were being sand blasted. Also strange. Most of the time there were no people around. (except when the scary “sweet car” came around) There was a horse that wandered up and down “Main Street”…..and there was us.

Today we took the last of our guests to the airport after spending our three nights in Cabo Pulmo. So creepy little Stephen King town was left in the dust as we drove the hour and 40 minutes to the airport, enjoying 50 minutes of paved highway.

When we gradually worked our way back to Todos Santos, a town of 5000, I was not happy. There was so much traffic. There were people everywhere. There were barking dogs. There was even a tour bus in front of Hotel California!!!

I yearned for Cabo Pulmo!!!!

In two months I have gone from Toronto, a city of 2 ½ million people to Todos Santos, a town of 5000 and now I think it is too big and busy!!!

I think I have truly lost my mind. The saving grace is that I still shave my legs and have dyed my roots. I shower daily and wear lip gloss on occasion.

There is still hope for me.

P.S. We still do not have our things, nor have they left Vera Cruz
P.P.S. I have many many stories about the incredible 10 days spent with our 7 guests….they are coming….
P.P.S.S There was no work done on our land in the past ten days. Shocking isn’t it?
P.P.P.S.S. Patience is becoming a four letter word to me!!!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dear Hercules and Dimitri

Hercules and Dimitri,

I am sure you thought the Branzanti’s were long gone! Well, yes, we are long gone, but I thought you would like to know we still have not received our things. On Thursday it will be 9 weeks since the container left our driveway. This is really a last resort for us to contact you, but we are hoping you can help us as well.Our dealings with Crown have been far from satisfactory and I thought, since they are the company you deal with, you should know.

First our things arrived in Vera Cruz on January 7th. It took almost two weeks to get any sort of answer from Senor Diaz, our contact, as to the status of our stuff. This, obviously was not a big concern to us, or we would have contacted you back than. We know we are dealing with Mexico, and things work on a different time table here. Even though Senor Diaz never followed up when he said we would, we still accepted this unprofessional behavior, since we are in Mexico.

Our issues began, when two weeks ago, on January 20th, we were told that our personal household items have been cleared and they were waiting for clearance on the tools. Just so you know we had two separate lists for customs, both approved and stamped by the Mexican Counsul in Toronto. They said the tools should be cleared by Friday. Again, we have to follow-up, but we finally did receive an e-mail on Friday, the 22nd; CONGRATULATIONS for clearing customs. They asked when we would like our things delivered, as well as a specific address for delivery. Of course we answered we wanted our things as soon as possible and asked them when we could expect them. Just FYI we are paying rent in a place waiting for our things. We can not move into our own place until delivery.

The weekend goes by with no word from them about when our delivery is coming. Monday the 26th we call. They say they will e-mail us with the details but ask if they could delay delivery for a week since they are very busy. Tuesday no e-mail so we call again. Senor Diaz is in a meeting and will call us back. He does not. We finally talk to someone there on Thursday the 29th of January and they tell us that we have problems with customs. Our stuff has not cleared yet. I am sure you can imagine how upsetting this was to us. They say we have to pay a fee for clearing our things. How much we ask?? They say they will let us know. Friday we can not get in touch with them…all weekend, of course no answer on the phone and yesterday was a holiday here. This morning we finally get through to them and he repeats that yes, we will have to pay duty on the tools. O.K.!!!! HOW MUCH!!! He says he will let us know.

I am not sure of your relationship with this company but can you help us? At least you need to know what is happening here in case you have any other dealings planned with them. This is totally frustrating and unacceptable.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP!...Maurice and Shelby

Monday, February 1, 2010

Senor Backhoe Retro.....

...must be the only man in the Baja that works!!! Today is a holiday. We ordered a truck load of gravel to be delivered today, of course knowing we would not see it til manana. At 4:25 who shows up!! Senor Backhoe Retro. Happily waving and driving his dump truck up our road...a place most mortals will not even attempt to go now, during its unfinished phase. People have turned down working with us because they fear the road. Not Senor Backhoe Retro. Up he spurts! Slipping a little, and waving all the way. Hmmmm....I guess his family vacation, that we paid for, did him good.

Wish I could have photographed Maurice running after him!!!...up the cliff!!! When I asked him why he was running the 120 meters straight up, he said it was becasue he wanted to see WHERE the truck would have problems!! Lucky he has a strong heart!!

My only question is....Who is this guy, Senor Backhoe Retro and who does he work for? It appears that he works for every person we need work from. I am starting to really like this guy! Hey...here he comes, down the road with Maurice holding on to the driver's door from the outside. OMG I LOVE MEXICO!!

P.S. The guy from Home Depot just pulled in to check out our leaking pila. Will today be our lucky holiday???

Mexicans who fish

The cliff that will hold Arriba de la Roca is a portion of a large cliff that sits on the Pacific. For decades, possibly centuries, Mexicans have fished off this cliff. We see them daily. They climb up the cliff on the east side and traverse down the cliff on the west side, which is the Pacific side. There are three crosses on the land next to ours, going down the ocean. We assume these are the marks of fallen fishermen.

It is terrifying for me to watch them walk down. It is dangerous, steep, often slick from the mist of the waves, but down they go. Are they fishing to feed their families, or for pleasure? Not a clue, but catch fish they do. They do not have elaborate fishing poles. In fact they do not have poles at all. They have liter plastic bottles that in their past lives held Coke or Fanta. Around these bottles they wrap fishing line. We could never really figure out what happened after that. We know they have bait of some sort. We know they throw the line into the ocean, but that was all we know.

Today the tide was low and we were walking along the bottom of the cliff on the ocean side. Most of the year the sea is too high to do this, no matter where the tide is at, so this is something you can only do a certain time of year…now is that time. While poking about discovering caves and sea life stuck to newly exposed rocks, Maurice found part of a fishing contraption hooked on the cliff. It was about a 6 inch piece of rebar. Along the rebar, on all four sides were thick pieces of wire that were bound to the rebar with thinner pieces of wire. These thick pieces of wire were crudely rounded at the top into hooks. It resembled a claw. At the bottom of this claw was a fishing line, about 12 inches long with a normal fish hook at the end. It was rather rusted, but Maurice did not think it had been there all that long. How this is attached to the pop bottles remains a mystery. Obviously the weight of the claw allows them to throw it into the sea, and the claw may grab the bottom of the ocean floor....but we are only speculating here. We were excited to find it.

Later in the afternoon while we sat in our beach chairs, a family of 8 came to the beach...walking down just past us. There was a man, who appeared to be the father, a couple with a baby, and 5 teen aged boys…oh, and a very happy dog. They meandered around for a while and then they all, with the exception of the girl holding the baby, started digging into to the sand. The formed a straight line, along where the surf crashes on the beach and dug. Most had long sleeved shirts and jeans on, yet there they were digging with their hands. Like a dog uses its paws to quickly remove dirt in search of its buried bone, these people were digging. They were going deep into the holes that you see when you walk on the beach. You know the ones that bubble after the waves recede. They were digging for sand crabs. You do not eat these crabs. You fish with them. After a couple of plastic bags were about 1/3 full off they go. They all go back to their truck. 8 adults, a baby and a dog get into the truck. No seat belts. No baby seat. No shakedown…but than of course they do not have Ontario license plates...sorry just a reminder of our days in LaPaz!!!

About 20 minutes later I look up the cliff because I see movement and there is the whole family, again with the exception of the girl and the baby, climbing down the cliff to fish. Thank God they did not try to bring the baby down!! It is treacherous!!!

We have no idea if they got lucky. We do know a lot of time and effort was put forth so this family could fish. We have no idea if they were fishing for pleasure, or to feed themselves. Either way you have to feel a little guilty sitting on the beach, in beach chairs, with an umbrella, a cooler and a great set of binoculars!