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Turtles and Dogs

Posted on November 18, 2014 by No Comments

Aside from the turtles, we’ve pretty much had this beach to ourselves for last couple months. Now that high-season is about to kick in, we’re getting ready to leave it to the crowds and hit the road.

Even with all the new neighbors arriving, there still seem to be more more dogs on the playa than humans.

Note to dog owners who think that their dog would never eat a baby turtle: Yes, it will.

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Hortaliza Hierbabuena

Posted on November 16, 2014 by 4 Comments

Down a dusty road in what seems like the middle of nowhere lies one of the best damn restaurants ever.

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Our interest in rammed-earth architecture is what originally what drew us to this spot, but we were just as curious about the food after hearing about a farm-to-table restaurant outside of El Pescadero.  The owners are friends of friends, who were able to rebuild after the hurricane – and more importantly – offer a diverse menu made from stuff grown on-site.

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Jason discovered a new oil leak in the parking lot, but we were able to get his mind off of it with the excellent food. We even got Bob to eat a vegetarian dish, carrot ravioli in pesto, which he loved.

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Bob’s Turtles

Posted on November 12, 2014 by 2 Comments

Due to the hurricane, we’re now in a two-week lull for tortugita hatching. That’s how long it took to get the tortuguero back up and running and send out the nightly egg patrol. We encouraged Bob to do some last-minute schedule-shuffling and he managed to get here on the last night before the long break.

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As promised, Señor Bode gave Bob the facilities tour and a few pointers on digging up the little guys.

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Only two nests to dig up this night, and a few tourists showed up for the liberación.

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Sunsets on the beach. Baby turtle releases. It’s all part of the tour package.

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Day of the Dead

Posted on November 2, 2014 by No Comments

What a great weekend! Our friend Bob is in town visiting, just in time for Halloween.

There is no trick-or-treating here in Todos, but a local cafe held a Halloween fiesta complete with live reggae. There were tons of costumed kids running around everywhere having fun. Bode disappeared most of the evening with a few friends he’s met in town. They were overheard in the bathroom plotting where the best place to hide all the candy they’d gotten at the party. Consensus was that ‘in the mouth’ was the best place.

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By the way… Bode is a zombie, but not from the grave. He will tell anyone who will listen the long and complicated story of a virus that infects people’s brains and makes them eat flesh. Things sure have changed since his Luke Skywalker days.

Saturday night the local cultural center held a Dia de los Muertos show which told the story of Mictlan with dancers, aerialists and musicians. Pretty spooky- with great performances.

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Todos Santos Festival

Posted on October 25, 2014 by No Comments

The carnival came to town, and so did everyone in the southern Baja area. Brass music, gambling games for kids, questionable rides and tacos. Bode’s favorite: BB gun shooting gallery. Careful, the shooters line up several feet behind the game’s wall meaning lots of people walking between the gunman and the targets.

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El Tortuguero

Posted on September 25, 2014 by 6 Comments

It was our first evening at the casita and we walked to the beach to catch a phenomenal sunset. We thoroughly lucked out in that there was a turtle sanctuary right across the sand dunes. This was the first night of the turtle release.  I explained that we would like to help, and they told us to come back the next evening. We did, and we kept coming nearly every night.

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Grupo Tortuguero de Todos Santos A.C. is a family-run labor of love. Enedino (dad) has been collecting eggs and releasing turtles for 15 years. He’s a science teacher, and veterinarian. His son, Dario just got his degree in Marine Biology.

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With no regular funding, these guys completely rely on donations. The sanctuary must be moved each year to another location on the beach. The shelter is rudimentary, and a few more posts and shading only goes up when they get a donation.

But, every night from about 2 in the morning til 7 a.m., Endino, Dario or one of a handful of other volunteers search the beaches on a 4-wheeler and bring back the nests. The eggs are carefully counted, buried and information recorded on wooden markers that stick up out of the sand.

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Exactly 45 days later, the eggs hatch. Before sunset, we arrive and dig up the nests, sorting baby turtles into those that have hatched, those that are still hatching, the dead, and the eggs that won’t hatch. Everything is recorded and then the little guys are set free near the ocean. The get tumbled and turned over, and usually pushed back several meters by the big waves before finally making it into the sea and swimming away.  Then, we work on the structure until dark.

Each morning, I go back at 8 and 10 and check for turtles that have surfaced from their nests on their own and release them.

Occasionally, there are some tourists that come to watch and help with the release. I love seeing the joy in their faces as it reminds me of the first night I volunteered.

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Baby turtles and sunsets on the beach. Not too shabby.

 

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What’s the Big Odile

Posted on September 23, 2014 by 3 Comments

This was the blog post I wrote the day after Hurricane Odile hit. We lost power and internet, so I never published it.

Everyone in town was hoping that Hurricane Odile would change directions and head west, as Hurricane Norbert did last week. We had gone in to town the day before it was to hit and got more ice and water, made sure the gas tank was full. As usual, we seemed to be the only ones concerned.

Last week, someone had come by to say that there would only be strong winds during Norbert, and that we didn’t even need to put away the patio furniture. This weekend, we watched the radar and knew Odile was going to be bigger. The problem with southern Baja is that it is only about an hour’s drive across. We thought about going to Cabo, but that was where the storm was heading. We thought about going to La Paz, but we warned that La Paz always floods, and usually with raw sewage.

We also got an invitation to go stay with some people we just met that lived nearby, but on higher ground. So, that was our conundrum on Sunday morning.

But, the house we are staying in is a concrete rectangle. No windows, but several glass doors on one side with metal slated door over them. So, despite being close to the beach, we are behind sand dunes, and can generally deal with the wind. Our concern at this point was water and storm surge. Our neighbor assured us that our location didn’t get storm surges. So, we tucked the bus into the most protected area we could find against the house, and sat back and waited.

Sunday was a long day. It was calm and quiet. We had electricity and internet, so we wasted the day waiting. And watching the weather. Around sunset, we walked out to the beach to watch the waves. We wandered over to the turtle nests and found a bunch that had hatched. So, we set them free, wishing them the best in the big waves.

Then, we went home and stayed up until the electricity went out about 7:30.

We slept for a couple of hours before the wind made that impossible. Reports are it was blowing 135 mph. The rain didn’t come until about midnight, but it was torrential. Our skylights (3) leaked and water came through all the doors from underneath. Eventually, water from our flat roof started coming in through some of the walls. Jason and I mopped, and placed towels at the doors. The wind made sounds like I’ve never heard. Bode was scared, but I was able to get him back to sleep, his fingers in his ears and curled up in a tight ball.

The loud sounds, the wind, objects hitting the sliding glass doors (luckily small objects as they had to first go through the metal doors) continued on and on. Jason was still able to track the storm from his phone, but that didn’t really tell us how long it would last.

It seemed like the night went on forever, lots of mopping, lots of worry. But sometime right before sunrise, it got a bit quieter and we were able to catch another hour of sleep.

By daybreak, the wind was still too strong to go outside. I got a text from the friends who had offered their place, they were okay, but their house was flooded, all their trees had come down, as well as a power line on their car and house.

We could see that it was flooded outside, but we were okay inside. When I finally made it out in the wind, I went to check on Red Beard, who was wheel-high in water with a comically dangling license plate.

The million dollar glass house in front of ours is completely destroyed.

The neighbors came out, the water started to recede and for some reason my phone was still working, so everyone was able to make a shaky call to let loved ones know that they were okay.

Our road is blocked with downed trees, and some power lines so we can’t get out by car. Jason and our neighbor walked to town. Folks were driving out of town with pick up trucks full of all their belongings. Roofs are off, glass is everywhere. The power company building was actually one of the worst hit – it’s roof is entirely missing. Oddly, we could cell service for a few hours, but then it went out after the winds died down. So, we don’t know when we’ll get electricity, internet or water. We don’t know when we can drive anywhere. We are all fine, and lucky at that. No real damage to our things or the house we are staying in.

All information we get is hearsay, so we don’t know the truth to anything. We’ve heard it may be several weeks before there is electricity (and water). So, for now we are waiting for more info. We can’t go anywhere anyway.

 

You can help the families affected by donating to the Todos Santos Hurricane Relief fund: With your contributions we will help to feed, clothe and rebuild the homes and lives of our  people in this beautiful Pueblo Magico.

http://www.gofundme.com/eskrns

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