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Baja luna returns

The lunar event last week during the full moon was spectacular to view from here. The full eclipse of the moon on the winter solstice will not happen again in my lifetime…an eclipse yes, but not on solstice.  I stayed up most of the night to watch the event, it did not dissapoint when at 11:33 the earth moved into position,  the light reflected from the sun made wonderful and familiar moon shapes in 2 hours that we usually see in a months time.  The event reminded me how much I enjoy the moon and it’s cycles, a reminder of the cycles of life and a reminder  to write and share my thoughts and experiences just for the fun of it.

It has been many months since I have written, life got busy, I went to Idaho for the summer which was supposed to be 3 months then turned into almost 5 that I was gone from my home on the beach. I worked as a cook in my favorite restaurant and also at a small health food cafe where it was more uncooking; delicious and healthy raw food.   Stay tuned for more culinary adventures of baja luna as I share the newest recipes and tell of food shared with friends and family. As life works, so many events have occurred…the death of a young family member which stunned us all and stung us with the harsh reality of warring countries, then the death in a small plane of dear friends traveling from here, another sting to remind us how fragile it all is and how we have to live in the moment and do what we love, lest we find ourselves living with much regret over things not said or done.

Oh Luna

gee, if the moon only knew how much we talk about it,

sing about it, dance,

spoon, moon, moan, croon, cry under it

write songs about it, study it,

stare at it, draw it

put it on our clothes, our labels, decorate our tables

love the light of it, the shapes

write stories about it

put it in films

make it a romantic icon

tell tales about it

probe it, photograph it

have legends about it

personify it

will it become a destination vacation?

ahhh luna, we love  you

we can never get enough of you

I spend hours everyday on the beach, I seem to always know who is coming and going, I take notice of new cars and campers just because the place is so wide open, it is impossible to be hidden.  I don’t meet everyone who comes but often there are those who want to ask questions about the area or they have a dog that comes up to have sniffing you know whats with my dogs.

I met two couples last week with some notable trailers camped on the beach..Teardrop trailers.  I have to call them cute, sorry guys, they are. It is the shape that makes them cute, well and the name.   They are small and compact, easy to tow, have everything you need to sleep and cook and store basics. A side door opens up to a cozy bed with a rod for hanging clothes when you are not sleeping, the back opens as a hatch back and voila, a kitchen area organized space with a stove and bins, drawers for storing food.  One was a vintage 1940′s, I forgot the year. The other was homemade from a kit.  The thing that brought me to them was a cute little Jack Russell Terrier named Rocky, you will see him in the photos.  Baja people, I could tell, lively and friendly, a good energy and a love for this desert peninsula.  They have a home on the Sea of Cortez, they love to roam around Baja and check it out. They were not surfing but just beaching and enjoying the show.  There is a whole culture of teardrop owners, websites if you google it about people who meet at rallies all over the country to share adventure stories.

I imagine getting an old one and having fun turning it into a traveling lunch wagon, a teardrop on the beach filled with wonderful food to buy each day.   Just a little fantasy, I may never do it but I have been thinking of clever names.

Los Ojos- Eye clinic

I was asked to volunteer to translate at an eye clinic last weekend.  It was held at a small hotel and beach club here owned by some nice people from La Jolla, Calif.  They brought the Dr and his wife and staff to give free eye exams and to schedule some cataract removal surgeries in July.  This wonderful man and wife team travel the world, giving their services free in villages and remote areas in many 3rd world countries.  They are sponsored by a church and mission,Faith Community Church, I will add the info for donations to my blogroll.  They also have volunteer assistants and pilots who give of their time and small private planes to fly them. At times they do take commercial flights. This was the first time the good Dr Jeff Rutgard and his wife had been to this town. They will be back here in July to do the cataract surgery, traveling with a laser machine and bringing eye glasses for several.  If you are coming here, bring reading glasses and sun glasses to give, any strength is needed and much appreciated. A little thing such as that can make a big difference in some one’s life.

Many locals came in hope of being able to get glasses and possible cataract removal. There were several viejos…old people who indeed have cataracts.  I was translating the Dr’s instructions to the patient and their needs to him.  He does understand a bit of spanish as his travels take to many parts of mainland Mexico.  They are scheduled for their first trip to micronesia to the island of Palau in May.

I learned so much about some eye conditions that people here have complaints about.  I have seen funny spots and a scarred look in the eyes of many who live here and in surfers.  This condition is called a pterygium, you can find a lot of info about it on Wikipedia.  Basically the body tries to protect the eye by making thick cells that grow over the cornea. It is caused by too much exposure to the elements, sun of course the worst.  The fine dust we have here  is a problem along with a lot of sun. Many locals do not have sunglasses to wear, they do not know how serious is the need to wear them.  This prompted many of us to find old pairs of sunglasses to give away.  For friends reading this who visit, please do the same and give them to me to distribute.  Old reading glasses too would be appreciated.  The Dr instructed all who came to rinse the eyes several times a day to remove dust particles.  I would imagine pollution in cities has the same risk to the eyes.

One gentleman who has lived many years is going to have is cataracts removed. Jose Jesus 78, laughed jubilantly when I told him he is going to have new ojos in July after his cataracts are removed. These people are so gracious and humble about asking for help. It is an honor to live here with these people.  A simpler  version of life I always say.

this tiny shell, about 1/2 " has little spikes for anchors, was near the shore break small pleasures and great treasures are found at the seashore

LA PLAYA…..THE BEACH IS MY PLAYGROUND

happy feet....beaches mmmmm

This is the beach where I can walk for 20 miles if I wish. Today I walked a few miles with my dogs running in the dunes that frame the bay, they were frantically chasing lizards, down to the water to look for little fish, then back and forth and around and around.  Their antics make me smile as I breath in the day, the fresh air, hear the crashing of the shore break, the sounds of the birds saying good morning sun.  I danced along at the waters edge with my ipod playing peppy music like -You Can’t always get What you Want, the Stones of course…..but you get what you need.   Dolphins swam inside the turquoise waves close to the shore, darting and swooping for their breakfast. I thought about my life and how I want to vibrate at a higher level, turn up the volume, so to speak. When my body says it hurts and tells me I am close to going  into my 7th decade, I sometime shut down or slow down but then I  feel worse.  Keep moving I say, never stop. When I stop I freeze, thats not where  I want to be.  The life I live here feels carefree and breezy, sandy, salty, soft and sweet.  I have so much to feel grateful for.  Walk, breathe, dance, sing, paint, write, surf, laugh, live love……. do it all I say, joy is there for the choosing.                      Then I got so hot and sweaty from the walking, dancing and the thinking, I jumped in the cold ocean fully clothed…ahhhh baja.

PLAY IN THE SAND

I played in the sand like a kid and made a rancho for turtles

I sent this photo to several friends and asked the question, what/where is it?  A clever friend told this tale ( gee I wish I had made that up)   This is obviously a portal to the turtle shelter, it is called XIBALBA, if you look closely you will see offerings made to the Turtle God TURTAN. If you were to visit at night you would see CERBERUS, the 3 headed dog guarding Xibalba to make sure the offerings are not stolen by bats. I am surprised your digital image showed at all, if you try to print it the page will be blank. Do not try to get a photo of Cerberus, not only will you piss off one or all of the heads it will also be blank if you attempt to print.    My words:  A Tsunami wiped out the shelter in the middle of the night so we do not know where is Turtan and Cerebus. I know they will turn up somewhere.

I LOVE TO PLAY ON THE BEACH

the girls came to find good waves

this is where you find waves

waves found here, not always this big!

I am writing this blog for the love of life, food, the moon, Baja California, cooking, writing and  sharing with friends, and of course for fun.

Where I am living in Mexico I have to be creative when it comes to preparing food. I laugh and call it foraging as there are only 5 tiny little tiendas( stores)  here to buy food so some time each day is spent touring the stores for what is available to cook. When I say tiny, I mean smaller than most living rooms. A few do not have refrigeration, food is kept in coolers with ice they make in blocks and break over the food. In the same cooler one finds, milk, hot dogs, tortillas, cheese and bacon.  It is fun to take the time to shop  as I can also chat with friends, get caught up on the local news and drive around town to see if there is anything new.  At times the stores are nearly empty, or at least have nothing we want. We always count on fish or some kind of sea food for the main course.  We catch the fish, buy the shrimp or what ever comes to us. We have greens in the garden but not everything needed  to complete a meal. For the most part we can eat wonderful whole food all of the time.   We could drive 100 plus miles to the bigger towns to shop but we really have all we need here. Maybe I want scallions but I can’t have them unless they are in the garden or on Wed and Friday when the supplies come to town. I have learned to be there on those days if I want a papaya or fresh cilantro, everything goes fast.  The town is growing, a lot of Americans retiring here or spending the winter, the Mexicans having children. There is always enough food to go around. We now have a community garden which I will write about.  What the members pick each week is shared and the rest is given to the local people.

Living in a small fishing village and a prolific bay allows us to eat fresh food from the sea every day.  Various types of fish canbe caught from a boat or from the shore.  A favorite is Corvina, a type of bass which can be caught by standing on the cliff at high tide if one has developed the skill to fling them up to the top of the cliff and not loose favorite lures. We can go out to sea sometimes as near as one mile in the zodiac or from 4-20 miles out in a bigger boat.  The Mexican Panga is a safe, efficient boat used by the fishermen each day to haul many kilos of fish, stack lobster traps and hold plenty of hombres and gear.  The mexicans are always enthusiastic about taking a gringo fishing just for the price of gas and some Tecates. Small pacific halibut up to about 10 lbs are caught by standing  at the shore and surf casting.  We do the sting ray shuffle as those little ankle biters can slash your foot with a barb on the tail if disturbed in the sand in shallow water.  This is not that common but we are always on the alert. It seems we each get a turn sooner or later.


Atun!

Yellow fin tuna, or atun simply, is our favorite a close second is Dorado, called Mahi mahi or dolphin fish in other parts of the world.  Yellow tail or Jurel in Spanish, a good fish if you are careful not to overcook.  Summertime brings wahoo, a lovely tasting fish of light flesh and heavy texture.  All year the verdio or green bass is caught here, a cabria now and then, pargo, snapper, bacoco with it’s armour- like skin is good if you don’t try to skin it.  Just  gut it and BBQ the whole thing and pick out the meat.  The shrimp trawlers make their way to the bay for respite from wind and big seas and to provision so they share the bounty of the sea by selling to us, camerones, shrimp in many sizes, we prefer of course the 6 inch long fat ones called blues, or cafe, brown.  The little ones are good for peel and eat.  Lobster is taken here by the co-operative , we are allowed to buy the ones that are too short to sell to the broker.  In the months of Dec- march we can enjoy lobster dinner now and then.

Ahhhh- AHI — yellow fin tuna is an all time favorite of mine.  Starting with sashimi  soon after it is caught to seared small bites we call ‘tuna bites’ and boy do I have a recipe you will enjoy if you like pepper.  The versatile tuna can be spiced and cooked multiple ways.  Friends in another town catch so much of it they bottle and water bath process to have on reserve. We prefer to eat it fresh if possible or quick freeze it to use later but not in the freezer more that a few weeks.

Look on my page titled Comida…..the food we love for recipes until I get this blog thing figured out !

Beans are a member of a family of food called pulses. The edible seeds of legumes such as dried beans, lentils, chick peas, split peas…from the Latin word puls which means thick soup or potage.  Pulses are very popular in Mexico the Middle East and India, providing a low fat and inexpensive protein source. Eat them for fiber and essential nutrients. Pulse flours can be used in baked goods or noodles to support a gluten free diet. Beans are filling and when properly soaked and cooked, also chewed well do not live up to the reputation of being a gas producing food.  Dried beans must be soaked as they cannot absorb  water into their skin, it has to come in at the opening where they were picked from the plant.  Legumes are tilled into the soil for nitrogen balance. Pinto beans mexican style, cooked in water then add a tsp of salt in the last 15 minutes, all you taste is the beans To properly cook beans, soak 8-12 hours then toss out the soaking water, add new water to cover. Bring to a boil then simmer as long as needed until tender.  Spices and salt or onions garlic etc can be added after the beans are tender.  a quick way is to bring to a boil, let sit for 1 hour then discard water, start with fresh and cook until tender.

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