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Mexico

Hitting the Beaches in Baja


View 2020 on mrb430's travel map.

Since we've been back in Baja with Libby (our new truck), we've been venturing out about once a week to visit some of our favorite places. The best thing about Baja is all of the small beach towns, each with their own speciality and/or personality. Here's a quick look at a few of our recent outings.

Saltito

Saltito is perhaps the closest white-sand beach to La Paz. It's a really pretty drive for the last few kilometers down to the beach and just a nice place to pass a day. It was our current foster dog Ruby's first beach outing and she did really well.
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Mystery Beach

I have no idea if this is the real name of this beach but it's what our friends Linda and Thierry call it and, since they showed it to us, it's what we'll call it, too. It's quite a ways back a rough sand road off of one of our favorite beaches, Tecolote. As with so many of these places, we had it all to ourselves. It's an amazing thing about Baja. There are so many little coves and beaches you rarely have to share. Great for social distancing!
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Linda and Thierry aren't in Casper the Ghost costumes for Halloween, they wear a lot of cover for snorkeling.

Cabo Pulmo

We also took a long weekend down on the East Cape in Cabo Pulmo, known for the marine park there. Scott and I had a day on the beach while Linda and Thierry went diving the first day.
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But the next day Scott headed out, too. The area is known for giant fish balls and huge schools of fish. It's also a destination dive for diving with Bull Sharks. Thierry got some great video. Check it out.

We had a great house and, as usual with these two, a lot of fun and great food.
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La Ventana

Closer to La Paz, we took a day trip to La Ventana (The Wind), which for obvious reasons given the name is known as a kite boarding destination. We had a great day chilling on the beach watching the boarders. It was a sunny, cool, windy day that reminded us of fall on the Eastern Shore.
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La Ribera

Whenever I get a chance, I drag people back to one of my favorite beaches, La Ribera. We spent a month here in 2019 and it holds a special place for us. So when our friends Bill and Sue were camping nearby, it seems a perfect opportunity.
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And we celebrated the Biden/Harris victory over the chaos and disfunction of the last four years!
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We ended the day with dinner at the Buena Vista Hotel with a lovely dinner on the terrace before spending the night and heading home early for Sunday Funday football.
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In Other News

In between our trips, we've been keeping busy. I've been volunteering with Baja Dogs and taking care of the garden. Scott's been fixing little things around the house and exploring our surroundings. And we are enjoying football season. Most days we put the TV outside and watch it from poolside - or sometimes from the pool!
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And sometimes with friends.
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We fostered a puppy for a week, which was both adorable and a total pain in the ass. Turns out I don't like puppies any more than I like babies and there isn't a whole lot of difference at 6 weeks IMO. Puppy pads = diapers, check. Middle of the night feedings, check. Constant supervision required, check. Nap time, check. Off the charts cute? Check.
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We're cautiously optimistic about the new vaccine and the possibility it may speed our ability to get back on the road. However, we're planning to be waiting for at least a year. And now we have an appointment in September 2021 in the DC area as our daughter Morgan is getting married! We couldn't be happier for her and her wonderful fiancee Steven.
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So another road trip is probably in order in the US next summer. Something to plan! Yay!

Stay safe and stay healthy! And stay tuned.

Posted by mrb430 18:12 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

La Paz 4.0


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Pressured by increased user demands, available new features, and ongoing constraints, we've upgraded our Baja Life once again.
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Baja Life 1.0, debuted back in September 2018-January 2019 and is well documented here on the Blog. Baja Life 2.0 (March-April 2020) was essentially just a reboot of 1.0 on a temporary basis until we could get the right parameters in place for 3.0. The need for 2.0 is documented here and what its features are can be found here. For Baja Life 3.0, we made major upgrades to a new house, new friends, a new dog, and a new car. We were hoping that 3.0 would be our last upgrade before we could move on to new projects but it was not to be. And maybe that was good for us in the crazy way that Covid can bring good change and new appreciation to basic pleasures in a way our pre-Covid life may have overlooked.

So here we are at Baja Life 4.0. Our travel nemesis Covid-19 is still with us all and unfortunately seems to be making a comeback. We remain largely unaffected, though we now know people who have been sick and even a couple that have died. It seems to be touching us all and reminding us that life is not going to be "normal" again any time soon. And so we continue in the new normal. It's been hard, especially for me I suppose, to come to terms with not being in control of my future. I can honestly say I'm lucky enough that I don't think I've ever felt like this before. It's been a weird adjustment in many ways but, like anything, it's also had an upside if viewed in a favorable light. Accepting that we will be in La Paz for the foreseeable future has allowed us to really invest in our life here and I don't think 4.0 would have been possible without that shift in thinking.

On to the highlights of this new release!

A NEW LEASE

While we loved living in Playa Posada, being near the beach and good friends, the house itself had become a bit claustrophobic. Our outdoor space was a walled in yard and while we did have a front deck with a view, we found we rarely used it. So when our lease was up and we knew we were staying, we decided a change was in order. We wanted a view, a pool, and more beauty around us. Hacienda Palo Verde to the rescue. Ironically, our good friends Jim and Rebecca had just sold their house to new owners who would not move in for a year or more so we jumped on the rental listing. It is an awesome house that checked all of our boxes and then some.
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We even got a fire pit!!
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The community is beautiful and the people are friendly. Although we're still working out some bugs in the "re-lease", we're going to be really happy here. It feels so good to be in a new place - even in the same place - and have new sights and experiences and build up new day to day routines. I'm obsessive about cleaning the pool, though people tell me that will fade. And the birds are amazing out here! I've added five new birds to my life list and we had a really special visitor in our yard and at the pool.
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A NEW RIDE

Another new feature of Baja Life 4.0 is our new truck Libby and we couldn't be happier!
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Our beloved 2000 Jeep Cherokee Sandy began having issues while we were on a vacation with friends. She started overheating in a major way on that trip. Luckily, we made it back to La Paz but the problems continued. Doesn't help it's over 100 degrees most days. In any case, after exploring a few options we decided that we needed to replace the entire engine. We ordered a rebuilt motor from AutoZone. I still think it's crazy that you can just order an entire motor like you would a spark plug. Anyway, it should have arrived in five days but this being Mexico it didn't show up for three weeks. And when it did...they sent the wrong one. The wrong engine.
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Also during this time, the starter gave out so Sandy was just parked at the shop awaiting her engine and we were without a car and really starting to question whether we should just buy a new car. We bought Sandy thinking we would be in Baja six months. Had we known we would be launching 4.0, we likely would have invested in a newer vehicle.

Add to this mix the following:

  1. we needed to renew our temporary visas by leaving the country and coming back before the end of September. We were planning just to fly to Tijuana, cross to San Diego, and come back;
  2. Chive and Rosie were flying north with four other dogs to Tijuana to cross into San Diego for their onward journey to Washington state and needed a human escort;
  3. and, we really missed our ZR2 Ruby and all of the fun we had here with her during 1.0.

We made the decision to buy a new ZR2. Of course the best one at the best price was not in San Diego, that would have been too easy. It was in Utah! Can you say ROAD TRIP!

So off we went, to fly the dogs north, renew our visas, and pick up our new truck.
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Chive and Rosie made it safely to Seattle and their new owners.
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Check out this short video of them in their new home.

More to come in the next post about our road trip in the US and back down the Baja with Libby.

SAME BEAUTIFUL BEACHES; SAME WONDERFUL FRIENDS

Luckily, we've kept some of the best features of 3.0 - our friends and our desire to see more of Baja! So recently we rented a house for two nights in the remote area of El Cardonal, north of Los Barilles on the East Cape, with our good friends Linda and Thierry.
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We enjoyed the water and sun and snorkeled fabulous reefs right from the beach.
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We watched sunrises and sunsets and moon rises and saw the Milky Way for the first time in a long time.
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We ate (thanks Thierry for going spear-fishing to catch our dinner!)...
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...we drank and we got silly...
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...and we made a new friend that Scott named Ent. large_IMG_5243.jpeglarge_IMG_5322.jpeg

We're planning more road trips here in Baja and now with our new abode and our new ride we plan on making this our last Baja Life release for another six months to a year. Stay tuned for more adventures. And stay home (as much as possible), protect your bubble, and stay safe!

Posted by mrb430 09:30 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Living in La Paz - Yup I Said Living


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It's been two and a half months since I've written anything but like everything else this blog has been on hold waiting for a return to normal. For us that means travel but, alas, travel any time soon does not seem to be in the cards. So I thought I'd take a minute and just write an update.

My previous posts from here were Staying at Home in La Paz, when we were on total lockdown, and Locked Down in La Paz, when we had just arrived at our new home. So now we are "Living in La Paz" and I guess that says it all. This is life in the new normal.
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We are very lucky to have the house we rented in Playa Posada. It's turned out to be a great location and a comfortable place to shelter and the sunsets are awesome. My plants are growing as is my shell collection.
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Chive is still with us and being a good and sweet companion.
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He got himself adopted with another sweet girl named Rosie and they are just waiting for transport to their forever home in Washington State.
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Sunday Fundays are still fun, we still make Orange Crushes, the hammock is still comfy, and the hose substitutes for the sprinkler to keep us cool in the sun when we don't venture over to the hotel pool across the street.
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Summer is upon us here with daytime temperatures in the high 90's to 100's and with more humidity than you might expect that usually adds 10 degrees to the "feels like" meter. It's hot! Needless to say, A/C has been turned on! The breezes still come up most nights though and we can hang out on our front balcony looking at the sunset and then the stars. Mornings are cool enough to be outside for awhile and to go for a walk and some days like today surprise us and we still have the house open at 1:00. We remember summer from last time we were here and it does get pretty rough - even for heat lovers like us. And this time the movie theaters are closed. They were our go to afternoon activity last time.

But I don't want to talk about Covid and all that has changed because of it. You know it as well as we do and I've gotten really bored of talking about it. Suffice it to say La Paz has cases and, sadly, deaths but so far we are personally unaffected and the hospitals still have room. Some restaurants and other businesses are open again and we do take out sometimes. We've even gone out for lunch a few times.
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And after six months, Scott finally got his hair cut! I think the picture above might have been the last straw! Thanks Angie!
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Basically we're just trying to be as normal as possible in these non-normal times. We've developed our daily routines and life here is both weird and wonderful. It's weird to actually have daily routines and to feel as though we actually LIVE here. But it's wonderful to have made good friends, some with dogs to provide play dates for Chive, and have a normal social life in our little bubble.
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It's amazing what a few drinks can lead to! This is the license plate holder from the Jeep we bought from them finding a new purpose one happy hour.
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And when the daily routines were getting to be too much and my wanderlust had me in a frenzy, Scott took me on vacation! Yup sounds weird I know! You may think "but you're always on vacation" but the truth is I needed a break from the everyday - day to day. From the normalcy of "Living in La Paz". So we headed on down to the East Cape and rented a house for six nights two blocks from the beach. Yay!!!!
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We made mango margaritas with mangos from the plantation down the road, spent a lot of time on the beach, and just generally relaxed like we were on vacation! Still feels weird to say that!
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We were lucky enough that our good friends from La Paz came down to enjoy it with us.
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And I'll just close by saying Mexico is a foodie heaven. We have fresh produce, fish, and seafood; a great selection of imported goods; excellent bakeries, and the freshest preparations. Here's just a sample of some of our best meals lately (kudos to James for the fresh caught fish for sushi and stuffing the peppers we got from our neighbors rancho and to Thierry for both the fresh sardines and the seafood feast at the beach).
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And Linda's expression about sums it up. We are living in La Paz and, for now, we are both very happy and thankful. We hope you all are finding a way to be normal and enjoy life in these crazy times.

Posted by mrb430 13:11 Archived in Mexico Comments (2)

Locked Down in La Paz


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LIVING A SIMPLE, LEISURELY LIFE IN LA PAZ

Along with most of you these days, we are living, or maybe existing is a better word, waiting to see what the new normal will be. La Paz has been on lock down since mid-March and the days, while beautiful, are blurring together. We look forward to the re-opening, hopefully scheduled for this week, so that we can go out with more than one person in a car and visit some of our favorite secluded spots.

We have been keeping busy and trying to maintain some routines and it helps the days pass. I bought some plants for our back garden and some beautiful Mexican pots for them.
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Clearly hadn't swept up yet in this picture. Sweeping the leaves and Bougainvillea blossoms that drop is a daily task! Each morning after coffee I sweep up, water, and generally get the house in order while Scott reads the news.
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We live much of our life in this space although we have a nice living room that stays very cool so we do spend some afternoons inside reading, watching Netflix, doing puzzles, or playing games.
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The weather here has been beautiful. Cool in the evenings and mornings with a nice breeze and then hot and sunny every day. We haven't had to use A/C yet and we really enjoy living with the house open.

I spend a fair amount of time cooking, so it's nice to have a great kitchen and fresh Basil!
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Fostering Chive has also brightened our lives.
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Chive is a calm, sweet, intelligent dog who is eager to please and he’s learning more doggie etiquette everyday. Scott says I'm running "Marcy's Doggie Finishing School" Ha! He loves attention - when he isn’t sleeping the day away. He is so well behaved, so full of love, and truly enriches our lives. Getting out every morning and evening for walks is nice but my favorite walk of the day is the afternoon beach walk. It is awesome to have this beach just steps from the front of the house.
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Chive sniffs out beach critters and I collect shells and other treasures for my growing collections out front.
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Other than that, we have the occasional happy hour with our neighbors across the street, the occasional visit from our friend James, trips to the store, yoga, and laundry to break up the monotony. I actually love doing the laundry and hanging it to dry. I can wash and dry three loads in a day the air is so dry and the sun so hot.
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And of course amazing sunsets from our top balcony or from the beach.
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And while there is a beer shortage, we've made it through with our stock piles we acquired earlier and the tequila is plentiful. Watermelon or grapefruit margarita anyone?!

WHAT'S NEXT?
Like everyone else in our situation, we are watching and waiting. We have five more months on our lease here and then...who knows. Scott has started tracking some countries of interest including Belize, Uruguay, Bonaire, and Thailand. Countries that, so far, are doing a good job at minimizing cases and that may allow travel. We've talked with the girls and my niece about maybe visiting us if that becomes possible. And, we're hoping we may be able to see my parents for Christmas in Colorado. But mainly we are just enjoying Mexico as much as we can while we're here and being constantly grateful we chose to come here rather than the US.

Hope you all are staying healthy and safe. Just because things open up doesn't mean it's suddenly safe to be out and about without precautions so I hope you all can enjoy the beginnings of summer and balance in the new normal.

Posted by mrb430 10:07 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

Staying at Home in La Paz


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It's been almost a month now of being under "stay at home" orders here in La Paz, Baja California Sur. Along with the rest of the world, we are watching and waiting for the end of this craziness and making the best of things.
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IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS

Like all of you, our world has been reduced to what's inside the gates of our little apartment building. Except for trips to the store, we are staying at home. In a way, Scott and I have been practicing "social distancing" for two years. It's just been us on the road and we've gotten very good at spending countless hours together passing the time in our own ways. We often spend days in "our house", just going out for a meal or a beer. So I don't think the isolation part of this is hitting us as hard as others. It's nothing new to us to use FaceTime to keep in touch with friends and family! And we're fortunate to be in a small building of six units where we do get some interaction with others - whether it's saying hi as they walk by to go out or meeting up on the roof deck for a cocktail at sunset - at appropriate social distance of course! These little interactions are priceless and make us feel less alone.

And our good friend James has been a great distraction. He's like family so we feel okay about bending the rules and having him over sometimes. We've had some fun times and good meals together.
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Of course, we can't wait to be able to go to the beach and go on some of our favorite drives but that will have to wait for now.

So we spend countless hours sitting in front of our unit watching the world go by.
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We are so thankful to have this outdoor space and our roof deck. When you slow down, you notice the little things. In the morning and the afternoons, there is an amazing aerial war that goes on in and around our little courtyard between the sparrows and the butterflies. The sparrows dive and twirl trying to catch the butterflies who dart here and there in an effort to escape. I can watch this display for hours. And the little Costa's Hummingbirds come to the tree and clean their beaks and flit around. There is the gecko that sounds off every night about 8:30. Sounding off just once but always at about the same time like he's saying "Ok bugs, I'm here! Get ready!" On the roof we watch the Magnificent Frigatebirds and Turkey Vultures cruise on the currents, get annoyed at the incessant chatter of the Gila Woodpeckers, and get excited to see a Crested Caracara outside of the desert or an Osprey carrying a fish home for dinner.

Some people say every day feels the same or that they all blend together but for us noticing these little things, planning small social interactions, and celebrating the daily routines of cleaning the house, going shopping, doing the laundry, hanging sheets on the roof deck to dry, cooking a meal, stopping for a fish taco or tamale to-go, these small things separate the days and make each one unique. And we've picked up our yoga practice again (Scott doesn't have any excuses left not to do it with me haha!), which helps with focus and feeling good.

OUR PLAN FORWARD

As I've related before, as a virgo, it's very hard for me to exist without a plan - at least a notional plan. As we started to settle in here, I started to get frustrated with the uncertainty of all of this and the not knowing. When would be able to travel again? Where would we be able to go? It was hard to get up everyday and not be consumed with a feeling of being in limbo. I am so thankful for Scott, my partner in this crazy adventure, for listening to me when I said "I NEED A PLAN!" and helping us to figure out a way to make a plan when plan-making is unrealistic.

We decided to stay in Mexico for the next six months, no matter what course the virus takes. We rented a house at Playa Posada and signed a six month lease.
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It's just outside of our usual neighborhood of Centro but only about five minutes away. It's a residential area on the beach. It's quieter and seems a bit more relaxed. We are really looking forward to having a house again! It's much bigger than we need but only $100 more than our current apartment. At $900 a month for a three bedroom house with three decks (one of which has a view of the water) and a huge back courtyard, we won't complain! The owner is from an old Guadalajara family with their own Tequila brand so that seemed a good omen, too. Ha! I can't wait to buy some plants to take care of and we may even foster a dog from a local dog rescue where I am starting to volunteer.

And we bought a Jeep!
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Being in Baja without wheels is just not doable. And serendipity struck again in that the owner of our apartment, who lives above us, was selling a 2000 Jeep Cherokee in great condition. Easy peasy! An interesting side note - we are registering it in South Dakota. Small Clay County SD has the easiest vehicle registration process for non-residents. It's all done through the mail and the internet. We should have our new SD tags this week! I have always loved the older Cherokees and really wanted to own one back in the 90's. Of course I couldn't afford them then but now we can - twenty years later!

So we're all set to settle in and just live life here. Someday, we'll get back to planning what's next after this but for now we will be content with the amazing Baja sunsets. When life gives you limes, drink Tequila!
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We send our best wishes to all of you. Take pleasure in the little things, make the best plans you can, be patient, and STAY HOME!

Posted by mrb430 09:37 Archived in Mexico Comments (3)

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