Sunday, August 28, 2016

Swimming with Whale Sharks

Espiritu at anchor in El Quemado, near Bay of LA. This particular 
early morning was like a brushed sliver of heaven. 

We've been in the Bay of LA area for a few weeks now.

The big news is we had the amazing privilege of swimming with whale sharks.

A group of 6 of the big guys came swimming around Espiritu one morning.

Now was our chance.

We donned our masks and flippers and slid beneath the surface.

Chris swims with a whale shark

The Bay of LA -- and the Sea of Cortez in general -- are two of the few places in the 
world where this experience is possible. 

The pod swam around Espiritu, anchored in the Bay of LA, and 
we jumped into the dinghy to take some photos 

Swimming amongst these great beasts was an intense, emotional experience. We knew going in that they are more whale than shark -- they have no teeth, as they inhale plankton, like whales.

Still, they are titanic creatures. One was close to 50 feet long. And anyway, who needs teeth when you've got gigantic, quivering gills that looked as if they might suck me in and obliterate me with a single deep, watery breath.

Me swimming with TWO whale sharks

At one point I was in between these two. 

I was a whale shark sandwich!

That was a daunting moment, and this Wimpy Cruiser had to take some deep breaths through my skinny little snorkel and drum up some vastly needed courage.

Afterwards, Chris and I were quiet for a long time. What a powerful experience we had! How would we top this? Humbled and deeply gratified, we settled into life around Bay of LA village.

Guillermo's restaurant and hotel is the 
cruiser's hangout in Bay of LA Village

I found this smashed guitar in a trash can in town. Oh, noes!
I have a feeling there was a night that did not end well...

Chris walks on one of the dusty streets in the village. Off in the distance you 
can see the cruising fleet in the anchorage.

Bay of LA Village has a few restaurants and hotels, and 3 or 4 mercados. 

They also have a small clinic which I decided to visit. As I swim every day (and 
sometimes several times a day) my ears are a constant problem. 

I walked into the clinic and was beckoned to the triage chair by a young man of about 18.

I told him I was having pain in my ears, and he began writing notes on the "chart."

This is my clinic chart. Welcome to Mexico! 

After I told him about my ear pain,  he promptly grabbed my finger and started swabbing it with alcohol.

"Hey...what in the hell are you doing?" I thought...then...


Without warning or explanation, he stuck me! 

He then proceeded to check my blood sugar. 

For ear pain! 


I then nervously waited for the result, as getting Type 2 diabetes in your 50's in America is now pretty much a rite of passage, like getting your first solicitation letter from AARP. 

Also, I had just had pancakes for breakfast. With sugar free syrup, though!

My result was 105. Yippee! (Normal is 80 - 120). Looks like I've managed to dodge that bullet so far. 

I realized that here in Mexico if you're older than 40 and you walk into a clinic for any reason, they automatically take your blood sugar first thing. So a typical older, overweight man coming in to be seen for a bad case of bronchitis is told, by the way, that his blood sugar is way above normal and he'd better start managing his diet and come back in and see the doctor and get this thing managed.

Great idea. They should start doing that in the states as well. 

Getting sideswiped and suckerpunched by a high blood sugar result when all you wanted was some Cipro for your bronchitis may be as effective a tactic as anything else.

Meet the cool BLA clinic doctor. He's from African Guiney. He speaks French, 
and a bit of Spanish. No English. And by the way, ya gotta love his doctor dress code. 
Shorts and flip-flops. Sign me up! 

Unfortunately the battery in his otoscope was dead. The doctor asked me in French/Spanish if I could come back the next morning after the otoscope charged overnight so he could look in my ears. No problem!  Since the whole clinic visit was gratis, I couldn't exactly complain.

After getting a clean bill of (ear) health the next morning, we decided to provision and head out to explore some of the many coves in the BLA area.

The checker at the Dos Pinos tienda is nine years old. 

Welcome to Mexico!

I had to credit my husband: a few minutes after leaving the store with our groceries, he figured out that the little girl/checker accidentally gave us way too much change (that's a downside with having a nine year old grocery checker -- limited mastery of mathematics), so he ran back and gave her the money owed.

Awwwww. I love that guy! XOXOXO 

We sailed over the La Gringa cove for the BLA Full Moon Party -- an 
annual cruiser's event we've been hearing about for weeks. 

Full moon in the Bay of LA

The reason we go to La Gringa at the full moon is because there is a lagoon and estuary which becomes a small little rushing river during the full moon tides. 

Count us in!

The "river" enters at the left, curves around the hairpin turn and dumps the floating cruisers into the sea. It's the closes thing to "running the gauntlet" we've got down here. We rode the mini-rapids over and over again all afternoon. Simple pleasures...

After our floaty river rafting afternoon, we dingied onto the beach for a potluck.

Desperate for any kind of diversion in this isolated place, our fellow cruisers have come to rely on Chris and I for musical entertainment at these get togethers.  They're a captive audience!

Chris happily fiddles next to the green 
estuary teeming with wildlife

Me and Brenda of s/v Firefly performed our locally-world-famous version  
 of Dolly Parton's "Jolene." Note DeeAnne in the upper left corner. 
She appears deeply moved by our rendition -- or she's got indigestion. :-} 

As the sun went down, this cloud appeared lit from within

This, give or take several boats, is our hardy "Summer in the Sea" crew: s/v Mystic Island,
 Stryder, Neeltze, Kashmira, Linger Longer, Firefly and Manta. 

We fashioned a fire pit out of a discarded tire rim.
Welcome to Mexico!

Next, we sailed south to the El Quemado anchorage.

Sailing south, we passed this amazing natural rock formation. Something dramatic 
happened on this spot millions of years ago!

Espiritu sits at anchor in unspeakably gorgeous El Quemado anchorage

One evening after dinner, I was in the galley doing dishes when I heard the unmistakable hooting and hollering of a drunken party boat outside the window.

Whaaaa? A Cabo-style drunken party boat? Here? In the middle of nowhere?

I scampered out into the cockpit.

The party-hardy, whooping, hooting and hollering was not a Cabo-style party boat.

It was a pack of howling coyotes on the beach! 

Note: howling Cabo partiers sound exactly like howling coyotes.
(courtesy of

It was interesting to note that pretty much the exact moment the sun fell behind the mountains at sunset is when the coyotes started howling! It couldn't have been a coincidence. Chris pointed out that they were probably excited because nighttime means: the hunt. 

And, not unlike Confederate soldiers crying a Rebel Yell as they go into battle, these coyotes were hungry and ready to head out and find some prey.

Human, coyote and great blue heron footprints on the El Quemado beach

I can climb it! I can climb it!

A rare fog bank hovers over the desert

In places like El Quemado, Chris and I really thrive. We spent our days here snorkeling and spearfishing the vibrant reef, walking the beach and exploring. 

Now that our summer in the Sea of Cortez is nearing it's end, I have to say that it has exceeded my expectations -- impossibly clear and warm water, clean air and blue skies all around with unlimited views of the distant mountains.

We're so happy just being here. 

Just being. 

Catching our own food, living off the grid, making our own water and electricity via our solar panels -- it's an amazing way of life. 

Fortunately we like each other's company. I feel happier, more relaxed and more connected to the natural world around me at this moment than ever in my life.

It's as if we're rats who have removed ourselves from the Rat Race. For now, anyway. We know that eventually we'll have to go back to work. But now now. Not yet.

I'm thinking -- quite irrationally, I know -- that I don't want it to ever end.

I'm feeling a bit like Thelma in my favorite movie, "Thelma and Louise."

Thelma: "Let's keep going..."

Do I sound a bit crazy? Well, maybe I am.

Mexico and the Sea of Cortez. They have that effect on you. 


  1. So happy for you guys. How much longer?

    1. Hey Rose -- well...good question...anywhere from 9 to 18 months. Miss you guys! XOXO

  2. I love the photo of the red mountains at BLA! Also the cloud cap on Volcan Coronado. Keep it up Liz.

  3. I love the photo of the red mountains at BLA! Also the cloud cap on Volcan Coronado. Keep it up Liz.

  4. Hi Guys, Hope you have found a secure place while Newton is in the area. I noticed your comment about the Sea of Cortez stay coming to an end soon. Don't leave too early, hurricane season ain't over til its over.