Sunday, May 10, 2015

Seeing Loreto Bay through Grandchildren’s eyes – a Guest Blog

This week my Sister, who was a recent Guest staying with me, has contributed a Guest Blog about her visit that included her Grandsons, I hope you enjoy . . . 

This trip to Loreto, our fourth, was a very different experience for us all; instead of coming for a quiet, restful adult holiday, we travelled with one of our extended families - mom and dad and two grandsons on their first visit to Mexico. Less restful, yes, but full of new discoveries. Instead of revisiting the familiar pleasures of the ex-pat community, the serene beauty of the Baja landscape and the charm of the historic town of Loreto, we were treated to an entirely new perspective on this magical world, through the sparkle of the boys’ eye-view! 

When we got out of the airport terminal and into the sun and warmth of the afternoon, the four-year old pronounced that he was coming here to live. He wasn't going to wait until he was grown up – he was coming here NOW! TO STAY!! Our host looked somewhat alarmed. Of course, the boys had been prepped with photos and maps before the trip; school projects helped identify things like cactus and ocean … but Baja reality began to hit home when the first small group of horses ambled onto the highway just outside the airport. This doesn't happen much in urban Ontario!

Later, coming “home” to my brother’s villa in the Founder’s neighborhood to relax over an early supper, the meal was interrupted by a noisy flutter of small birds zeroing in on the tree in the courtyard – prompting the observation from a Grandson that “Hey, there’s no roof out there!! You can see the sky!!” While dinner on the deck at home is a familiar summer routine for the grandsons, small birds flitting into the dining room is relatively rare, and had to be investigated immediately!!

Like most youngsters, bedtime usually comes well before deep darkness; here, however, walking home along the Paseo after the short twilight, they were treated to a vivid light show, the moon and star-filled sky dazzling our city eyes. Next morning, the experience was shared in breathless excitement – “We saw the moon!”, “Yeah, and VENUS!!”, “And all those stars!! There were MILLIONS of stars” 

And cactuses? Well, the towering pillars that dot the landscape along the highway were not quite the finger-sized specimens that had been found in the local flower shop. On later inspection, the big, sharp spines projecting from the ridges of the Cardon had to be tested, as were the thick yellow bristles on the ornamental Barrel cacti used in the village landscaping. Tested with a gentle finger, and found to be, yes, sharp!

But of most interest in these odd plants were the “pimples” that the boys noticed at the top of some of the cacti – flower buds, of course – but what adult would have made that association? And when the pimples blossomed? Why, then they must be blooming pimples, or “bimples”. The fact that the flat paddles, or Nopalitos, of the prickly pear cactus are also sold as vegetables in the market was another curiosity they enjoyed – but weren't interested in sampling .

Little, quick-footed striped grey geckos scampering over the pale gravel replaced the darting squirrels and green lawns of southern Ontario, and were just as hard to sneak up on! Which didn’t prevent them trying, again and again! 

And the pizza shop, with the ginormous pepperoni pizza – and the coffee shop with the swing-out stools at the long table, where they served chocolate almond milk, and cookies the size of Big Macs, and huge fruit cups with chopped papaya, pineapple and mango, and grilled cheese sandwiches toasted with parmesan on the outside, and hot dogs with two doggies in each bun … Boy heaven! 

To say nothing of three pools – a big swirling pool with deep and shallow sections, and a non-functional hot-tub which became a private wave pool, with its own waterfall; the quiet, grown-up lap pool where Baba liked to sit with her book – and the other, best pool near the pizza shop, not so big, but on the way home there was always a chance of stopping at the little store – where once, we found the most enormous marshmallows – huge – the size of cupcakes, vivid pink and virulently flavoured with chemical strawberry! We heard the siren call of s’mores all the way home – and survived the sugar-frenzy that followed!

Just because it’s there! Punta Nopolo, the iconic tooth of volcanic rock that sits in the bay was a constant lure – nothing would satisfy the boys until they climbed to the peak – or as close as possible, with adults helpfully behind – King of the Mountain as they looked over the bay, the village and the golf course lying below. 

The adventure of the glass bottomed boat tour was literally, an eye-opener. Along with the grown-ups, they sat along the sunken viewing tank, watching the swirling schools of fish undisturbed in their native habitat – without getting water in their eyes or up their nose! The gold-striped Sergeant Majors were everywhere, but schools of silvery barracuda, lumpy-faced parrot fish, Yellow-tailed surgeonfish among other exotically coloured and shaped fishes kept us entertained while dozens of vividly coloured starfish decorated the rocky landscape below. When we discovered that the four-year old was counting the sting-rays, the whole boat-load chanted along – sixteen, seventeen, eighteen – all the way up to twenty-six! His proudest moment! 

And then there was the afternoon when the surf came up – a wind blew in past the cruise ship in the distance, and tossed big whitecaps against the shore, “white horses” for the boys to jump and chase all along the clean sandy beach. Later, the palm fronds whipping back and forth, the rattle and swish of their wide leaves whistling in the dying wind provoked worried concern about spooky night visitors. But before daylight, the wind was finished, and we woke to a calm sea and clear skies. Just another day in paradise. 

Mexican food was a challenge – while the grown-ups enjoyed fish and shrimp tacos, the Clam shack produced quesadillas for the boys – “Mexican grilled cheese” – a success; the elegant restaurant in town treated the grown-ups to a wonderful evening; Mom, Dad, and the Grands fully appreciated the delicate creamed cilantro dressing on the shellfish and shrimp, to say nothing of the silky Flan that ended the meal. (Note to self – NEVER pass up a Mexican Flan!!) Although the boys were underwhelmed with their grilled chicken and veggies they were fascinated by the pick-up soccer game going on in the plaza just outside the restaurant patio, and delighted by the ice-cream sundaes that arrived to make everything perfect! 

We made a final tour of Loreto Bay before the trip home, where the boys showed me some of their favorite things. We gently poked cactus spines, found a bird-nest tunnel in a larger Cardon cactus, enjoyed some lizard antics, splashed in a fountain on our way to the beach, and finally, shoes off and splashing, into the gentle wavelets lapping on the shore. No “white horses” today – but miles of empty beach to run, and warm sun and gentle breezes.

One last ride to the airport, luggage checked in, sweaters ready for the arrival in Calgary, and suddenly, they were away – until next time! But for a few days, we shared the magic they found here in Loreto Bay, experiencing the wonder and mystery again through the eyes of a child.