Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Nature At Its Best – above and below the water

7mm wetsuits!
We make sure to have some fun along with the excitement and challenges of working on the boat and walking around in the dirt yard visiting friends. The natural beauty and creatures we encounter here are part of the joy of Mexico. Not so much the mosquitos and no-see-ums... We went diving last week and take morning walks several days each week for exercise, to enjoy the sunrise and look for birds.

DIVING: We took a day off from our labors of love and went diving with one of the three dive shops in nearby San Carlos. We scoped them all out to find out who had the best trip and planned for a good weather day after we’d had a ‘wind event’ so the waters had settled down. It was an excellent dive boat – with a working head (!) and helpful staff who assisted with our gear and made a delicious lunch of quesadillas and guacamole between the dives. We had an hour and a half fast boat ride to the island of San Pedro where the sea lions bark and the rock formations rise from the sea to form an amazing bird sanctuary.

A beautiful boat ride to San Pedro Is
We brought dive gear from our boat but like everything here, items dry out and Mike’s mask no longer provided a good seal. The first dive, his mask flooded constantly and he looked like a cartoon character with the mask filling up and his eyes getting bigger as he tried to clear it. We borrowed another mask and enjoyed two dives in 71 degree water, which is chilly when you’re in the water for 50 minutes. 7mm dive suits, gloves and I was glad for a hood.

Great dive stickers from around the world 
We saw tons of starfish, a nudibranch, ray, giant schools of various species and even had a zoom by from a female sea lion (smaller and with no knot on the forehead like the males). They’re incredibly fast and curious. Glad for the dive trip and break from our work, we enjoyed the outing and were glad to log a couple of dives. It had been over a year.

BIRDING: We walk 3-5 times per week and the bird watching is great in the early AM, as the sun begins to rise above the surrounding craggy mountains. Once we started taking the binoculars with us, the count of black crown night heron and little blue heron in the bushes along the shore rose from 11 to as many as 27. It’s great birding here, some migratory and some full season. Osprey, pelican, egret, sandpipers, grebe, hummers and we think, a long-billed curlew (or his second cousin).

Just as part of the walk is the birding, part of the birding is the walk. On the road to the shore, the local buses "Paraje Fatima" rumble by hauling uniformed school kids to two oceanography/fishing prep schools. One's primary, the other secondary where there's a huge poster outlining very specific appropriate uniform attire for boys and girls - right down to the centimeters the girls' skirt is allowed above the knee. As I write this, memories of the nuns measuring at St. Jerome's School in Oconomowoc overwhelm me! 

It's not a road that is easily traveled - from the danger of those flying buses and tardy taxis to random stray dogs that bark at your heels and conveniently leave their mark everywhere. Horse hoof imprints indicate early morning passages. Tons of small rocks twist ankles (as Mike found out a few days ago) and potholes lurk for the unexpected. When you make it back safely, it's a great start to the work day.

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