Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Baja Inesperada: Playas, Vanas y Llenas
Unexpected Baja: Beaches, Empty and Full
Words by Greg
Photos by Greg and Trina
Despite the impression given by our previous post, we were not freezing cold for our entire time in Baja. Just an unexpected amount of time. For we who like to travel slowly, who like to make little discoveries along the way, the trip was a pleasure. Each hour was filled with unexpected delights. (Like frost and snow…?)
We weren't really expecting any problems getting in and out of Mexico, even with our dogs. Still, it was unexpectedly easy. It was also easy to dodge gun smugglers/drug runners/border patrols/crooked cops/theives/poison/kidnappers/beheaders. However, we may suggest that if you're the type to quake with fear, you should stay home, stay inside, and huddle under a blanket with the TV turned up high so you can hear the warnings about how dangerous the world is.
We did not expect to find beaches both so empty and so full. Empty of people. We rarely saw other people, and usually at a distance. But just behind the empty beach the shore was lined with homes. Beach homes. Empty homes. "Homes" that ranged from cinderblock shade shelters to preposterous mansions. Most straddled a less than grandiose line in between. Often an RV parked near a stubby tower holding a water tank. Or an RV with a roof build over it. The coast of Baja had been parceled and sold to gringos from the north.
Few of the beach houses showed signs of recent use. Most showed signs of neglect and many showed signs of serious decay. Of unfinished dreams. Of abandonment. Of post apocalypse. Where had all the gringos gone?
Stories seeped in from hollow towns. Twin prongs of economic downturn and fear. Too little money to pay a home mortgage resulted in beach home neglect. And the pounding drum of media hysteria that had turned all of Mexico into a dark alley on a violent night. Surely there are dangerous places in the world. In Mexico. In Phoenix, Arizona, USA. We did not find such a place.
The decay we saw, was it all the result of these most recent years? Or has Baja always walked a sandy line between promise and decay? We never found a satisfactory answer to our question.
We camped one night in soft sand where dunes were covering walls. Another on an empty beach below an empty house. We turned our backs on the land and faced the sea. Walked through the rich smells of sea air. Wandered amid tiny lives and tiny lives lost. Snails and crabs and hollow twisted shells. Slugs and nudibranchs and isopods. Starfish and brittle stars. Fish bones and fish dried to leather. Limpets and barnacles. Sand, gravel and tumbled rocks green with slippery slime. Oysters, clams and cockles. Broken empty urchin shells and crumbled sand dollars turning back to sand.