January 11, 2006

Baja Lessons

If you need to make a left hand turn, sometimes, you just stay to the left and wait for a break, like a reasonable drive. But, at other times, you will need to take the exit to the far right lanes, which are separated from the rest of the camino by dirt, cement, or sometimes, nothing. From there, despite what looks like broken traffic lights, you should stop (no red light, just stop anyways) in the left-most right lane and wait for the green arrow light. When it comes, you will cross all lanes of straight traffic to make a left hand turn (or U-turn).

If you are waiting for someone to meet you at the airport, call them instead of waiting patiently 'til dark. They may still be at home because their flight was canceled due to heavy California rains and flooding. [note: even if your cell phone works in baja, you may not get the voicemail icon]

Losec is generic for prilosec. Immodium is immodium. Both are available along with several other options at every pharmacy. If you are traveling in a group, someone will need this information, guaranteed.

The most unique product I consumed in Baja was Damiana liquor. I only had it in a few margaritas, but it was a hit. At one point on the trip I found myself in a hot tub at a villa surrounded by strangers who were passing a bottle after a night of partying and proclaiming that it made you feel warm, wholesome, happy, and content. In the interests of living to tell the story, I opted to sit in the hot tub, and enjoy the rest of the evening without partaking of the pregnant lady's syrup of happiness and fertility. Good stuff in a margarita, though, if you get the chance.

The desert in Baja has much more vegetation that I expected. In fact, it's very much alive and teeming with life. E2, E2's parents & I drove the eastern route to La Paz from San Jose del Cabo, and then returned on the western route through Todos Santos. Both La Paz and Todos Santos are lovely little towns with quite a bit of Mexican culture. Cabo is, well, it's Cabo -- I consider it the Baja Vegas in many ways. Anyways, the Baja dessert -- it was very different in appearance from the barren deserts between Alexandria and Siwa in Egypt. I think I'd forgotten that the term desert can mean things as varied as the term forest.

I'd forgotten many things: how rich we are in this country and how our opportunities are something to be thankful for, how much I want to speak Spanish fluently, how for every "ugly american" there is at least one person from some part of America with a story you're glad to learn and generosity that makes you proud to be their countrymen, how geography is easiest learned by driving, how the sun looks when it rises over the ocean (and when it sets), how important it is to remember to sleep at least one day a year away, and how the true calamities and stresses of life are not kept from us by money. We are all human, we all die, we all have families (at one point), we all get sick, we all know desire in at least one of its forms, and we are all much more alike than we think when we read/watch/hear the news. Also, we can and should slow down, at least every once in a while.

That being said, it's good to be home. I'm much more appreciative of things like left hand turn lanes, toilet seat covers, toilet paper that doesn't feel like sand paper, drinkable tapwater, fresh vegetables and wine (although to be fair, baja does have it's own offereings, and I did try some of Ensenada's offerings -- a Syrah made by a barbeque joint in La Paz with mounted pigs displaying oversized human male genetalia. The wine was decent though. A bit overpriced for here, but fine for baja, where there isn't much of a wine market.)

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