Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thoughts about comings and goings

This will be the last posting from here in Loreto for this winter season, however I plan to write one more about my drive back to Canada after I arrive there in early June, so please check back again for the final posting of this season.

Over the past couple of weeks I have seen a steady exodus of friends and neighbours leaving for wherever they spend their summer months, culminating a trend that began back in April when the numbers of people leaving started to exceed those arriving.  By the time I leave next weekend there will probably be fewest people here since after I arrived back in mid-October.

Although I am looking forward to seeing family and friends on my return north, and I will appreciate some of the conveniences of the North American urban lifestyle that are taken for granted when you live there, the more time I spend here, the deeper my connection has become with this place.  One of the biggest changes for me will be returning to an English language culture where I am once again in the linguistic majority.  While my comprehension of Spanish has improved this winter, and I am determined, once again this summer, to re-do the Rosetta Stone language program that I studied last summer, being surrounded by a foreign language on a day to day basis creates a low level of stress that only becomes apparent when it disappears.

In spite of all of these positives awaiting me north of the border, there is definitely a melancholy associated with seeing the vibrant and thriving community that has been the center of my life here for the past eight months shrinking house by house, neighbour by neighbour.  The somewhat depressing, but now familiar, process of shutting down my home for the summer and deciding what things I am going to be bringing with me and what I’m leaving behind is one of the last steps remaining before I start the long drive north.

The drive itself (this next one will complete my 8th round trip since buying my home here) continues to be both a challenge and an adventure.  Travelling solo 4,000 km, likely over a four day period, requires both physical and mental stamina, and with luck, more or less equal amounts of both exhilaration and tedium.  For this later reason, a very important accessory on the trip is my satellite radio, which, if all goes well, should provide me with continuous reception of almost 150 stations covering every conceivable taste in music, talk and audio entertainment.

Also on this trip I am planning on adding a new “wrinkle” to the journey – I am going to video record highlights of the drive with the goal of putting together a personal travelogue.  I think I am now familiar enough with the drive to anticipate some of the most interesting stretches so as to be able to have my video camera running to capture them.  For those of you who are trying to “picture” how I am going to manage driving my vehicle “Denny” over narrow (and at times treacherous) Mexican roads or busy eight lane US Freeways while shooting video – relax!  I have secured a “mono-pod” to my dashboard to mount the camera on, and I will be able to control the recording on and off and even rotate the camera to focus on yours truly for commentary with a simple flip of the hand; or that’s the plan, anyway!      

Getting back to the travel to and from Loreto at this time of year, I don’t want to give the impression that the travel is just one way, as each inbound flight (now down to four per week from LAX) still brings visitors and Homeowners, but I think that most of these arrivals now are going to be for shorter term stays, while most of us who have been here for the winter will have left by the end of this month.  The irony about the fact that so many people have gone is that in terms of the weather, this is one of the most perfect times of the year – temperatures are in the mid-80’s and generally calm conditions with cooling breezes picking up in the later afternoon.  However, from this point on, temperatures will rise, followed by the humidity, and the rhythm of day to day life here will gradually slow down as people adapt to the changing climate.

Of course, not everyone leaves for the summer, there are a few hardy souls among the ex-pats who live here year round, considerably more in the town of Loreto than here in Loreto Bay.  But even for those who consider this their year-round home, there are often plans for a “vacation” north to more temperate climates for a break from the extremes of heat and humidity during the summer.

But with the heat come the fish, or more accurately, as the water temperature rises different species are attracted to these waters, Dorado being particularly prized as a sport fish here during the summer.  This of course brings with it fishers from far and wide to test themselves in one of the most prized sport fishing environments in the world.  Noticeable at the airport, are the (mainly) men arriving on every flight with large coolers to pack the product of their adventures in these prolific waters back home to enjoy, no doubt served along with stories of “the big one that got away!” 

The late summer and early Fall is also the time of year that inclement weather can occur in this part of the world.  We have not had a serious storm here in over a year and a half, when Hurricane Jimena passed within 200 km and dumped up to a foot of rain with winds up to 100 kmph.  I have heard talk that this may be a La Nina year and if so there may be more storm activity than usual, whatever usual is!  But after over a year and a half without significant rainfall in this area, the possibility of replenishing rain is welcome, particularly among those who depend on raising free range cattle for their livelihood. 

While I have never been here during a “storm event” up until now, I am planning to return before the end of September, the earliest that I have been here in the Fall, which is prime time within the mid-August through mid-October “window” that is the Hurricane Season here.  So I will be watching the weather closely, as I get ready for the trip south, to hopefully time my travel back through the Baja and avoid being on the road during any heavy weather.

So as I prepare to leave Loreto for another summer, and return to where I used to call home for so many years before finding my place in the sun, it is a time for me to reflect on how this place has changed over the years since I first came here, and also to realize how I have been changed by it.  While this annual exodus is bittersweet, looking forward to seeing the people I miss, but missing the people and place that I now call home, leaving and looking forward to my return is another part of “Living Loreto” – Vaja con Dios!