Meteor showers, ceviche and Santa Claus

Santa Claus paid a visit to the Sea of Cortes over the weekend.

Santa Claus paid a visit to the Sea of Cortes over the weekend.

 

The sky was black and the wind was cold.

Cara brought a couple of blankets up to the rooftop and laid out the pads from a couple of lounge chairs.

Our viewing post for the weekend’s meteor shower was complete.

We laid there in the dark a few hours Saturday night before what would be the apex of the Geminid meteor shower waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Suddenly, the sky tore open and there were streaks of light across the sky.

Some were weak, little lights that fizzled like a failed firework. Others roared across the sky like an angry locomotive, huge, hurling balls of fire leaving a sparkling trail.

It was magnificent, a show put on, it seemed, only for us.

I’m not quite sure how long we actually watched the incredible display. It could have been a couple of hours, or maybe a couple of days. But, we were enthralled.

Then the moon started its slow rise out of the Sea of Cortes, spreading a boiling red-orange color over the darkness.

“Our timing was just right,” Cara said as we folded up the blankets and headed back down the stairway.

Yes, our timing was just right, and it was an incredible end to a great day that began early when we visited the swap meet and walked through the various booths. We picked up another clam rake for Cara, one with a three-pronged hook welded to the end of a golf club. The one we had manufactured out of some garden equipment we found at the hardware store was OK, but not as sturdy. Hopefully, when the temperature rises later this week, she’ll get to try it out. Of course, as a golfer, she had to find the exact, perfect iron with the exact, perfect bend to the hooks on the end.

It was a nice day and we hadn’t visited our gawking corner along the malecon in some time, so we headed for town and the Taco Factory, which sits on the beach.

We took a couple of seats on the deck of the restaurant and watched the passing stream of people, which ranged from the shop owners and restaurant workers to turistas, to Santa Claus.

Yes, Santa was in the house. Or, more appropriately, on the beach.

He was part of a group that had set up shop to collect toys for the area’s underprivileged kids.

There is not a lot of money here, except for the turistas and people who own second homes along the beach. The average worker earns about $100 a week, I am told, and some of the homes in the poorer sections of San Felipe are fairly ramshackle.

The people work hard here. We have seen them cleaning up and repairing the roadside with antiquated tools. We have seen them in the shops we frequent, some working seven days a week. There are a lot of family co-ops. One family we have met owns a grocery store, a vacation rental business, and a computer repair shop. They all take turns behind the counter at the market while still maintaining the other businesses. The father worked construction for many years in the United States. He brought his family to San Felipe to make his mark and has done fairly well it seems.

But, that is not the case with everybody, especially those in the service industries who are so dependent on U.S. dollars.

“If the United States coughs, we get pneumonia,” one of the local businessmen told me not long ago.

The effect is strong, hitting not only the shopkeepers, but the real estate market.

But, none of that stopped Santa, who we saw dancing and waving as Christmas songs blared in the background in Spanish.

It wasn’t quite Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, but the version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” had the old guy on his feet and dancing.

The Taco Factory has the best shrimp ceviche we’ve ever had and we enjoyed a serving of it as we watched the little ones visiting Santa.

There were some shops we hadn’t explored, so we walked the street behind the malecon. We stopped at a clothing store that had some pretty decent prices and wandered through a botanico, which is sort of an herbal alternative to Walgreens with shelves upon shelves of natural remedies that are worth exploring, I think.

On our way back, we stopped at a place called The Parrot’s Cracker, a comfortable cantina where we know the owners who are deep into the off-road racing world here.

They were all excited about Sunday’s race through the desert from Ensenada to San Felipe. Their vehicle was ready and so were they.

San Felipe is filed with sand rails and Volkswagen Baja Buggies. They are everywhere. There are also a lot of four-wheelers. Half of the vehicles aren’t registered, but that doesn’t seem to matter. The real off-road buggies and rails are pretty scary looking with unfriendly interiors, rugged roll cages, super heavy duty suspensions, and some mean looking tires. The seats are not well-padded and barely more than a frame to sit in. I can’t imagine bouncing 250 miles across the desert in one, let alone what it must be like for those brave souls who run the annual Baja 1,000 race down the length of the peninsula. Cara and I have driven that highway from Tijuana to Los Cabos and back and even on the highway, it is truly an adventure. The bumps, jumps, and dry washes are vicious, as are the critters that roam the desert. We have seen snarly coyotes and one rattler about six feet long on the highway. I don’t think I’d like to meet up with them on their own turf.

The day ended under the blanket of stars, some zigzagging across the sky, others in their permanent orbit. Orion was especially bright Saturday night, as was the Big Dipper.

It was spectacular.

This is a life we have chosen for ourselves.

It’s not for everybody, nor should it be.

But, it fits us, whether we are people-watching at the beach, strolling the shops, or digging for clams.

We find peace here, we find adventure, we find joy.

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