Tuesday, June 23, 2009

July 25, 2008

Dear Friends,

We last wrote you on June 3 from El Fuerte, via which town we hoped to reach Steve's friend Jim Hogg in the canyons where the states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, and Sonora come together. In December we had dropped down from the Sierra Madre plateau and found him in Batopilas. This time we ascended from the Pacific coast. Given that our map indicated bad roads and our pickup lacks 4-wheel drive We doubted if we could drive all the way in. Nor did we know just where Jim would be, not having heard from him for a couple months, since he has no phone or email.

It turned out that a new road had been punched through a couple years before. This took us up and down mountains to the dusty village of Tubares. We then forded the Uribe River, still low because the rains hadn't started yet, and reached the village where Jim previously stayed. The people there said he was now in a place through which we had passed several hours before! This was Steve's third visit to Jim and each time he is further back in the mountains! We joyously reunited with Jim and spent four days reviewing his water projects, hiking the simmering hills, and swimming in the El Fuerte River. The area is incredibly hot, windy, and dry. The plantlife all wants to scratch you!

We then drove back to the coast and took the five-hour ferry from Topolopampo to La Paz on the Baja Peninsula. We spent a week exploring the Cabo area, at the tip of the peninsula. We camped on beaches and swam at Cabo Pulmo. The marine life was rich, the shallows containing considerable coral, but the water was chilly.

Our prime interest being the Sea of Cortez, we drove up through Loreto, Mulege, and Santa Rosalia, swimming here and there. The water temperature improved but the visibilty remained disappointing. One day we canoed to offlying Isla Coronado. On another we paddled up the Mulege River, where a mangrove estuary transitions into a turtle-filled lagoon surrounded by tall grasses and date palms. We visited ancient Spanish missions, explored the salt-mine lagoons around Guerrero Negro on the Pacific coast, and detoured to Bahia de Los Angeles, where tan desert islands dot a turquoise sea. Usually we drove the paved highways. Occasionally we took dirt tracks, loving the absence of people and the closeness to nature: caves, weirdly shaped rocks, many species of cactus and palm, and the fantastic cirio cacti, which seem the invention of a Dr. Suess or a peyote tripper.

We spent our hottest night near Mulege, lying in pools of sweat, praying for a breeze. We took to buying ice cubes and sucking them as we drove, but we never knew how to quantify the heat, lacking a thermometer. Then one evening after it had cooled off we stopped at a rustic roadside cafe that sported a collection of wall thermometers. It was 105 degrees Fahrenheit! If that was the cool of the evening, what had been the temp in the heat of the day?

Driving north up the peninsula, the final stretch is along the Pacific coast which is bone-chilling cold, at least to us, who had been seven months in the tropics. We crossed the border in Tijuana on July 2nd and marveled at being back where the drivers all stay tamely within striped lanes and the bathrooms have toilet paper and running water, but everything costs more.

In San Diego we paddled around marinas looking at multi-hull sailboats for a few days, and saw the 4th of July fireworks from our canoe near the fireworks barge in the harbor. Then we spent nine days at the Santa Monica home of Ginny's mom and grandma, during which time Grandma turned 92. All her four children came to celebrate, plus a few friends and grandchildren. We looked at boats for sale in San Pedro, Santa Cruz, and the Sacramento estuary, took a detour through northwest Nevada and southeast Oregon, just for variety, visited too few friends and family along the way and now find ourselves back among the strip malls and traffic of Pierce County. Steve says in other words, we're home (Ginny says nothing because she's too busy wrapping herself up in blankets, louring cat-snugglers and crying for the far-off Belizian sun!)

We have maybe a month's worth of business to take care of around here, then we'll be off again, most likely to buy a Corsair folding trimaran, 24 or 27 feet long. The biggest concentrations of these are in Massachusetts and Florida. Then we will probably sail back to the Caribbean where, as Steve sang during his Three Years in a 12-Foot Boat, " . . . the fish can fly and the birds can swim and the water's so warm that you wanna jump in!"

Hope this email finds you all well! The pictures will be split again by country, the new Mexico pictures are the last half or so, starting with "Cactus Fruit" onhttp://picasaweb.google.com/ginnygoon/BackInMexico and the US pictures on http://picasaweb.google.com/ginnygoon/USAUSA. Older pictures may still be found onhttp://picasaweb.google.com/ginnygoon/MexicoTrip andhttp://picasaweb.google.com/ginnygoon/Belizeit

Yours in squid,
Ginny & Steve

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