Monday, October 15, 2012

Vacation From Banamichi

We came back to Banámichi two weeks ago during the last gasp of summer heat to find our yard full of waist high weeds AGAIN!! RATS! The two Dans declared that they did NOT want to deal with the weeds, and my priority was to prepare and plant the vegetable garden, so I was not going to do it. We asked all the usual sources to try to find someone...a Mexican laborer... who might want a day's work to come and clear the mess. Francisco told us that all the able-bodied men were busy working for the Santa Elena mine.Good for the community and for the weeds. Bad for us.

First, Ramon told us that his nephew Miguelito would come. He didn't  show up. The two Dans got out the hoes and rakes and half-heartedly began poking and scraping at the vegetation. Then Rosa told us her uncle would come the next day. The two Dans wound up sitting in the shade shooting the breeze after deciding "why mess with the weeds when help is on its way?" The next day came and went, and no uncle showed up.

The two Dans got serious and began chopping in earnest. One of them borrowed a weed whip and the other wielded the hula hoe. After 2 1/2 days of hard labor and at least one dump run, the yard looked pretty good, all except for the nasty invasive grass that is trying to establish itself on the south side. This will need a herbicide.

We were all from clearing the garden, forking up the dirt, raking and planting, and the guys from the weeds. On a whim, we decided to go to Kino Bay for a couple of days of  R&R at the beach. As it turned out, some of Dan D.'s teaching buddies from China offered us the use of their condo.

I had misgivings about going to Kino. Every other trip we have made there was either disappointing (think camping on cement pavement in a ratty trailer park) or fraught with outright disaster. Once a friend walked into the beautiful clear waters of the bay and within 30 seconds was nailed by a sting ray. After trying the usual remedies without success, we wound up spending our day sitting at the Mexican Red Cross with him waiting for treatment. Another time, we were chased from our estuary paddling adventure by a thick cloud of biting no-see-ums right into the path of an illicit drug operation which was scary as all get out. We haven't been back to Kino Bay in years now.

View from our balcony

Millions of shells
This time was the charm. The condo made a huge was right on an isolated stretch of beach south of town. We had a lovely balcony overlooking the water and the comings and goings of the shrimping fleet. The beach was covered with millions of great shells. The water was the prefect deliciously warm that I could have stayed in all day, floating and riding the waves.

Fisherman's shrine

 The town is divided into Kino Viejo (old) and New Kino. Old Kino is a dusty hard-scrabble fishing village of concrete block homes and tar-paper shacks. It doesn't even have many of the usual Mexican tourist area  curio shops. Real life happens in Old Kino. Fishing boats go out and come back in. It is clear that seafood is the big thing. The seafront is a mishmash of fish vendors, open-air fish restaurants and crumbling fish warehouses. Kids play in the streets along with cats scrounging for scraps and flea-bitten dogs chasing each other with loud barking and snarling as dogs are wont to do. Locals clump together chatting with neighbors, or eat seafood at the many street stalls.

We did our share of eating while we were there as well. La Palapa restaurant served us wonderful fish and shrimp tacos. The Marlin in Old Kino had a great Sopa de Siete Mares (Seven Seas Soup) and Ranchero style shrimps. El Pargo Rojo (The Red Snapper)  in New Kino had amazing crab tostadas. We were invited to a potluck at the Condominios Jacquelynn where we were staying. Someone brought an appetizer that had at least a pound of solid crab meat in it.YUM!

New Kino is not much more than a strip of large houses owned by Gringos (Mexican slang for US citizens), a few hotels and trailer parks and a handful of restaurants. It's relative modernity and affluence provide a sharp contrast to Kino Viejo. The primary focus is on the lovely bay and the recreational opportunities it provides. The city has established a park of palapas...palm frond covered ramadas...for tourists to rent to relax on the beach and have some shade.We succumbed to the allure of getting out of the sun and rented one. It was lovely and peaceful, except for the indigenous southern Mexican vendors who were schlepping and trying to sell us everything from jewelery to hammocks, pottery and wooden bowls.

At least it was peaceful until a busload of high school student from the town of Ures moved in right next to us. We moved to a different palapa to escape the noise and the general activity level.  They seemed like nice kids though, and it was gratifying to watch them enjoy themselves without much of anything. The boys played soccer and the girls chatted in groups and buried each other in the sand. When they went in the water, there was the usual teenage sport of "let's splash the and dunk the girls," accompanied by much screaming and laughing.

Enjoying Myself in Kino
Leaving Kino was tough this time. We had a wonderful time. As we were leaving we went around town trying to find crab meat and fresh fish and shrimp to take back with us, but unfortunately we were too early in the day, and the fishing boats had not returned yet. We did come across a too-thin, sun-browned and wrinkled man of indeterminate age with a bucket of freshly caught  Pargo he was willing to sell us. He took us to an empty but spotless outdoor warehouse where he fileted the fish while a cat with a mis-shapen mouth yowled under the table. The man smiled, obviously tenderhearted, and threw her a skin which silenced her immediately.

The trip back to Banámichi was uneventful. We stopped at a small open stall for friend Lynn to buy 5 ristras (long heavy wreaths) of red chiles. The folks running the place found it amusing that a Gringa wanted so many. Then, when I tried to buy 3 green chiles for our dinner, I could tell that the woman thought I was crazy. The man before me had bought 2 kilos. She told me, "it's only 8 pesos (about 70 cents) for a dozen!" I bought the dozen and challenged the Mexican view of Gringo mental health.

Back here in Banámichi, finally the heat has broken and the mornings are turning cool. Gracias a Dios (Thanks to God)!! The seeds are starting to come up in my garden. The invasive grass has already grown several inches since it was chopped to the ground. Gotta get that herbicide!