Baja

the bee & the fox

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I have no handle on time these days and as bad as I’ve yearned to sit down and tend to this space, time just slips away. I have loads of pictures to share from all our summer adventures so I figure I best get to postin’. Summer went incredibly too fast, as it always does, and the days we spent away from home seem to far out-number the days we were here. The endless game of pack-unpack-catch up-reset-repeat. I can’t say I’m happy to have the boys back in school (Van is now in kindergarten and Hooper, in first grade) because I tend to favor the freedom of summer and all the adventures (even with all the chaos). So we’re adjusting to the change in schedules and to the setting of alarms. The silver lining resting, I suppose, in being able to sit down and hit ‘publish’ on a long overdue post from our time in Baja, Mexico.

In other news, hope everyone in Texas affected by the hurricane is safe. Keeping y’all in my heart.

Baja

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The border crossing was our most eventful yet. Flooding the border were hundreds of Monguls, the border police scampering to herd them like cattlemen corralling sheep. Only the cattlemen had assault rifles and the sheep were anything but, well, sheep. And for whatever reason we got lumped in with them, Willy’s tattoos – perhaps – causing concern enough to subject us to a thorough search. If you saw my post on Instagram, you know Willy’s balls took a few days to recover. I asked to take Sonny out of the backseat so I could feed him and a few of the border policemen actually made a barrier to protect me while I opened the door and took Sonny out. As if there was going to be a gun battle. It was crazy. After some questioning they realized we had no affiliation and basically told us, nicely, to get lost. And we did.

We visited our regular haunts, returning to the same restaurant we frequented the last time we were in the area; the waitress as happy as ever to scoop a not-so-little Sonny back up into her arms to parade around the restaurant as if he were her own. The boys, impatiently waiting their turn for the pool table where they crash balls into each other and where we buy a round of beer for the few patrons that have to put up with such. Where the fish is fresh, the drinks strong. And where one night we forgot to bring cash (because, Mexico) and had our bill taken care of by two nice gentlemen we had seen eating there the night before.

We spent one afternoon just driving and exploring, making our way down dirt roads and pot-hole-ridden back roads, weaving in and out of the outskirts of downtown Ensenada. Trying our best to teach the boys that there are so many different ways to live. That while some are poor and live without many of the niceties they’re used to that there’s still life and love and happiness. Hoping that one day they will feel the gratitude I know Willy and I both feel for the lives we live. That they will feel and experience the same warmth from giving.

Sunsets on the beach turning the wet sand into glass, their little shell-collecting-bodies reflected so beautifully. Days spent at a pace slower than we’re used to, the door open, flies roaming in and out as if invited, and Sonny – sweet Sonny – happy as pie to be anywhere we are all together.

We’re hoping to do another trip south of the border soon, adding a few more stops and towns along the way.

You can view images from our last trip here and the family video I made by clicking here.

Childhood Unplugged

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An evening on the beach, from our first night in Baja, Mexico. Feeling the kind of freedom and surrender that is sure to follow hours spent coupes up in the car. An evening spent collecting shells under cotton candy filled skies on a beach we practically had to ourselves.

More from Mexico to come.

Please join me in supporting the other photographers participating in the Childhood Unplugged movement by clicking here to see all our submissions. You can also follow us on instagram (@childhoodunplugged) and be sure to use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured on our Instagram feed.

Baja

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In any event, we nearly opted not to go two hours into our drive when we realized we left our passports at home. Passports, that in all fairness, were not needed years ago when trips down to Baja were our summer norm. Before, you know, you heard stories of families being carjacked at gunpoint, the mother raped in front of her children, and the family left roadside with no means of getting home.

Willy and I gave each other pep talks on the way back home to retrieve our passports, taking turns calming one another down and promoting all that good attitude shit that’s really the last thing you want to hear when you’re sulking in your own despair and watching minutes turn to hours all the while questioning the safety in Tijuana after dark. Especially when one member of our gang whines a whine that makes even a desert lizard’s skin crawl about having to pee. Roadside piss stops in Tijuana after dark? Let’s just say we were happy to have crossed the border and made it through Tijuana while it was still light. Never mind the other member of ours that hurled all over himself and his carseat, the mere turnabouts in Tijuana causing whatever food we had thrown back at them to quiet them on a drive that turned out to be double the amount of time we had anticipated (all because of said passports) making its way back up. And out. And all over.

It was only after cleaning up the barf that we could begin to tackle how to get to where we were going. There was added frustration having had no address for our destination provided and instructions that included “turn left at the Cali-Mart”, only there were several Cali-Marts, and “turn right after the first speed bump”. Fortunately we were able to laugh about most of it because, well, Mexico. It’s all part of the experience, verdad?

The next day was a bit of a debacle. With the loan on our new house (we’re moving at some point this summer) closing, there were documents that had to be signed. Time sensitive documents. We spent the day with broken cellular connections trying our best to figure out a plan with our loan officer who ultimately, bless him, met us – well after dark – on a secluded road outside closed businesses, halfway between where we were and the border. We signed those papers in the back of his car with nothing other than a lone street light making the dotted line visible. We turned down a street vendor selling some stale shrimp on a questionable wood platter (because, Mexico), took a picture with our loan officer (because, memories), and headed back on the road in search of that damn Cali-Mart we missed the first time we passed it.

And from there, it was smooth sailing. We ate dinner at the same roadside restaurant, nestled amongst dilapidated homes and stale stagnant run-off outlets from the ocean, each night. It was the kind of place where everyone learned your name and our waitress, Brenda, traded me a margarita for Sonny as soon as I stepped foot in the door each night. The boys hung out in the room adjacent to the bar, crashing balls on the pool table into each other. And no one even gave us stink eye. Because, well, Mexico.

We had hoped to ride some horses along the beach but Willy veto’d that idea, questioning the safety of the boys on horses we didn’t know in a country with a less-than-desirable reputation. And truthfully, when I saw the state of the horses available for riding, I too agreed — more for the horses sake than for the safety of our kids. It seemed abusive riding horses so weakened and dismal appearing.

We stopped to get gas one evening, however, and adjacent to the gas station were some horses that I told the boys we could go look at. Next thing ya know some sweet Mexican man is lifting Hooper up on a horse and giving him a tour of the questionable surroundings. I posted a picture of him on the horse on instagram and practically spit out my margarita when someone commented saying that they too were offered a ride on a horse in Mexico and when the woman asked the man the name of the horse, the man replied, “I don’t know. It’s not my horse”. Oh, Mexico.

Thinking back, I can’t even recall the boys fighting much. I’m sure it happened, but it’s amazing how something that can downright ruin your mood in the moment it’s occurring can all be but forgotten some weeks later… after the stiff margaritas have worn off, I suppose.

In any event, we made it back – albeit a two hour wait at the border (during which I took Van to pee three times) – sans barf, with some homemade tortillas, some salt still on our lips, and plans to return again. Hashtag: poor man’s Big Sur.