Monday, January 25, 2016

Baja Road Trip - Heading Home.

 Thursday - January 21st - Good Bye Zacatitos, Baja

Art and I wake at sunrise and I sip my final cup of coffee on the deck of Casa Magic Gecko. The ocean dances with the morning light and whales spout in the distance. Although, I’m sad to be leaving both Zacatitos and Art, I will fly back for a week at Valentines Day. It’s time to head home, get some creative traction on new designs for the Marty Magic business and take up my responsibilities in the office

At 7:45 A.M. I climb the ladder to wake the boys, sleeping on the roof, and they break down their tent and we all pack for our return trip home. John’s final semester at S.F.S.U. begins on Monday and Will must complete his volunteer hours at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens before the end of January. 

We lock the Magic Gecko Bungalow for our drive to the airport, stopping at Buzzards for breakfast on the way. Buzzards, the Gringo Restaurant in El Encanto is half way between Zacatitos and San Jose and there are occasional concerts here. Extra Large, a Santa Cruz Band performed here last year and Art and I had a great time, dancing in the sand. We are surprised and pleased to have Jesus, who used to work at Zac’s Bar and Grill as our waiter. Art and I share eggs Benedict and the boys down large breakfast platters.

Breakfast at Buzzard's Bar and Grill, El Encanto

Entrance to Buzzards'

On the way into San Jose, we make a reverse right at the cement plant and drive the dirt road to Flora Farms, an upscale organic farm, restaurant and gallery complex. Flora Farms is thriving thanks to a recent write up in the New York Times.They offer a farm tour at 11:00 but with a plane to catch, we don’t really have the time. We stroll the beautiful manicured gardens where butterflies flit between the flowers and pop into their overpriced jewelry gallery and body care shop.

Flora Farms
Flora Farms

Flora Farms Outdoor Dining Area
Flora Farms Garden

I have been thinking about purchasing another Mexican Fire opal that I saw in the same jewelry gallery where I purchased an opal on Tuesday. I want to get John’s opinion and possibly purchase this one before I fly home. It is 5.1 carats and a nugget of blazing crystal blue opalescence. Both John and Art appreciate it’s beauty and approve my purchase. Ruben, the gallery owner is expecting me this morning and he has two other opals to show me that belong to his friend. One is of no interest to me but I ask the price and carat weight of the other. It is a substantial, 20.5 carats with a pleasing organic shape and a pastel rainbow opalescence. Although it is fairly priced, I don’t have enough money to purchase it and ask Art if he will walk to the ATM to get pesos from his account? Tomorrow, I will deposit money back into his account so that he will be solvent again. As we drive to the airport, John and I discuss names for the new opals and he suggests Mermaid’s Tear for the fiery blue nugget but we are at a loss for the name of the other. Art chimes in Argonaut, a good name to save for when we find the “Argonaut Opal.” Naming each opal is part of the process and we try hard to choose appropriate names that suit each stone which helps everyone remember and keep the stones straight; customers as well. *When I return home and show Alisha the opals, she exclaimed on the wonderful purple radiance and the rippled shape of our unnamed treasure and suggested Violaceous Surge.  

Mermaid's Tear
Violaceous Surge

Art drops us off at the curb and we say our goodbyes which is not too painful since I am returning before Valentine’s Day in less than three weeks. We are flying Alaska Air and because I paid for our three tickets with Alaska Signature Visa, we each get one free checked bag. Will fuels up with Burger King, I spoon down a Starbucks Yogurt and before we know it, we are boarding!

Ariel View of Guerrero Negro Lagoon
Ariel View, Guerrero Negro

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Baja Road Trip - Mexican Train

Wednesday - January 20th - Zacatitos - Organic Market 

Today is my last full day in Zacatitos. John, Will and I fly back to San Jose California, tomorrow afternoon. Art will stay here another month and I plan to fly down for a week over Valentine’s Day, but I need to get back to work. I am recharged and have new designs bursting in my head, waiting to take form. 

Art and I wake early and although we don’t take a sunrise beach walk we have a quiet and contemplative start of the day together, sipping coffee on our front deck overlooking the Sea of Cortez. Our “boys” are still sleeping on the roof of our simple concrete bungalow. After three weeks of both traveling and living with Will, a college friend of our son John, he feels like a part of our family. 

Waiting Dog at the Organic Market
Zacatitos Organic Market - Zita and Raoul

Jose, Marshall and Sube

At 8:30, Art and I walk the quarter mile to to Zacatitos’s Wednesday morning organic market.  Last Wednesday, we ordered six chile rellenos from Zita and Raoul and we pick them up and choose other fresh produce from their baskets of organic vegetables. We have invited several neighbors over tonight for sundowners and a light supper. Breakfast is available, inside the tiny concrete kitchen and Art and I share a plate of three mushroom “dorados.” We sit in the tiny cluttered courtyard and visit with our friends and neighbors. Before walking home, I purchase three beaded pendants from the artisan and his wife who come to our small market. I will  give these to my “team” back home who have been taking care of the Marty Magic business in my absence. 

Zacatitos Sunset
John and Will go skim boarding at “Shipwrecks” and we lend them our Toyota 4 Runner to drive the rocky dirt road up the East Cape. They return several hours later, reporting a stellar day of skim boarding.  Unfortunately, their afternoon spear fishing expedition off Punta Gorda does not provide us dinner. 

Max, Nancy, Art

Friends and Neighbors

Shortly after 5:00 P.M; our friends, Nancy and Max drive up. Marshall, our friend and neighbor next door joins the party and we spoon guacamole and tuna onto chips, sip wine and margaritas and converse watching the sunset over the Zacatitos mountains. After the sunset glow is over, I warm the chile rellenos over our butane stove in two flying pans and we eat by solar light. We play several games of Mexican Train and call it a perfect evening.

Mexican Train 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Baja Road Trip - Opal Obsession

Tuesday - January 19th - Zacatitos into San Jose for Opals and Supplies

Art and I bundle up warmly and take a before sunrise walk on the beach. The sun peeks up slowly over the horizon, spreading a rosy golden glow over the beach and illuminating the froth of the waves that lap onto the pristine sand. Our morning coffee afterward, sipped on our deck tastes especially good. 

Zacatitos Sunrise
John and Will, sleeping in a tent on the flat roof awake and climb down the ladder and our morning routine begins. While Will is pulling ingredients from our ice chest to prepare breakfast, John approaches me with a grin and a closed fist. He has caught a baby gecko and holds it gently in his closed hand. I scramble to find a suitable container before John opens his hand to release his catch. I marvel at this minute lizard, take many photos, and release it.

Baby Gecko
I fly back to California in two days and have business to attend to before I depart.  I have opals on my mind and must also take care of paying the taxes on our beach side bungalow. I drive into San Jose on my own, choosing to take the newly paved highway into town rather than the rocky unpaved coastal road. In so many ways, I prefer the coastal road, rocky and slow but with a view of the Sea of Cortez. I regret that already, because I am given the choice, I am opting for efficiency rather than simply enjoying the journey. 

The drive into town via the newly paved road takes only 35 minutes. I park and walk to the court house adjoining the San Jose Zocalo. I am assigned a number and wait 30 minutes before it is my turn at one of the three official windows where I show my paperwork, pay a modest tax and leave in less than three minutes with a computer generated receipt in hand. Official business handled, I now hope that the jewelry shop where I have several opals on hold will be open today. I walk the few short blocks to the Art District and the shop is open. Ruben welcomes me and I spend another 30 minutes looking at the few opals of interest that he has set aside. We agree on a price and I commit to a 14 carat Mexican Fire Opal in the shape of a bird’s head with nice flashes of color. There is a maximum withdrawal from the ATM allowed each day and I have been accumulating pesos but I imagine that Ruben is anxious when I must leave to go to the nearby Santander, A.T.M. to withdraw more pesos. I am back with pesos in ten minutes; pay Ruben the agreed amount for the opal and with a handshake and thanks, I leave to go to the Mega store for supplies.

When I return from town, I make guacamole and the four of us watch the sunset and go to Zac’s for their Taco Tuesday special.

John and Will have spent the day skim boarding and enjoying the Zacatitos beach.

Zacatitps Sunset

Sundowners, Casa Magic Gecko

Baja Road Trip - Santa Rita Hot Springs

Monday - January 18th - Zacatitos to Santa Rita Hot Springs

Our plans for today are to go to the Santa Rita Hot Springs. Art has been twice and does not want to go again so the boys and I leave shortly after 9:00 A.M. stopping at Baja Books to look for a reef fish book for John. John finds what he is looking for but it is expensive; $45 and I buy two Baja Maps for $20.  We stop for gas in San Jose and drive North towards La Paz stopping along the way at the Tropic of Cancer visitor center just south of Santiago. There is little more here than a 6 foot diameter globe, girdled with a line marking the Tropic of Cancer. I take the required photo of the boys standing beside it and pointing to our location on the globe. 

Tropic of Cancer
Santiago is just a few kilometers ahead and we turn left and drive into the picturesque town. I circle the zocalo and proceed left out of town stopping a few short blocks down at the El Palomar Motel and Restaurant. We choose a table in their sunny garden courtyard and order an early lunch. John and I share an excellent Mexican combination platter and Will orders breakfast. The garden is overgrown and the rooms look very simple and in need of some maintenance, but it has that Baja charm. 

El Palomar Restaurant, Santiago
Hiking down to the Santa Rita Hot Springs

This is my third trip to the Santa Rita Hot Springs and I remember it being an adventure. The directions are to turn off on a dirt road just before the Santiago Zoo and follow the power lines up into the mountains to the Hot Springs. We will come to a rancho and will turn right and follow the windy rocky road further up until we come to the parking area for the hot springs. I drive out of town, look for signs to the Zoological Gardens, make a right at the first “Zoo” sign and a left at the second “Zoo” sign. Just before the Zoo, I see the dirt road and make an abrupt right turn and follow the power lines for many kilometers. Initially, the dirt road is well graded but we cross a sandy wash where I’m happy to have four wheel drive. Occasionally, a road branches off but I stay right, keeping my course with the power lines. As the road climbs, we pass small ranches where cows graze and wander in the road. I turn right at the crossroads of several ranches and here the road becomes steep and rocky. There are several hairpin turns where I creep along over rocks, dropping into ruts and worry that I might encounter another vehicle on this one lane road and wonder how I might maneuver around it?  John is incredulous that we were able to drive a standard rental car up this road. At the top of the next rise, a woman stands beside her rental car off on the shoulder of the road. Her husband has walked on ahead to survey the road to see if it is passable for their car. She asks how much further ahead the hot springs are and I offer her what advice I can but truly don’t remember. As it turns out, we are nearly there and arrive at the hot springs minutes later.  A Ranchero sits in the shade of a tree, taking the 50 peso entrance fee and recording the names, birth dates and nationalities of each visitor. He motions us towards the direction of the trail and feeling like a veteran, I tell him that I know my way and the three of us hike on ahead. The trail drops down towards the gorge, meandering past several lovely shaded campsites, picnic areas and a latrine. We scramble over a few rocks, reach a trickling side stream of the springs and duck through the overhanging reeds and trees before popping out at the pristine, Santa Rita Hot Springs. Slabs of rock slant upward forming the walls of the gorge. Perhaps 15 people are soaking in the springs, many of them my age. A clutter of back packs and clothing is scattered around the edges of the rocky pool. We stake out our territory, stash our belongings at the edge of the pool and the boys immediately shed their outer clothing and slip into the water. I have on my Teva water sandals and my bathing suit underneath my clothes. I slip off my jeans but keep my long sleeved cotton shirt on for modesty and to keep from getting sunburnt. There are signs prohibiting the wearing of lotions or sunscreen because it will pollute the water. 

Santa Rita Hot Springs
Santa Rita Hot Springs

I can tell that the boys are initially a little underwhelmed with the hot springs. With the exception of one youngish family, everyone in the pool is geriatric. Within minutes, John and Will are exploring the cold pools down stream. I sit at the lower edge of the hot pool where I have a partial view of the adjoining cold pools below. There is a family with an infant and two boys approximately age 4 and 7. The mother is preoccupied with changing the baby on the shore and the father is watching his 7 year old boy in the hot pool. The cold pools, where their middle boy is playing is slightly below and out of their immediate sight. John and Will are about to explore further down the river and into the larger mossy pool when John notices the 4 year old bobbing in the water. John watches him sink and rise, sink and rise and initially believes him to be playing but suddenly fears that the child is in trouble….water over his head and unable to swim. From where I sit, I cannot see the boy but I do see John reach down into the pool and pull up a slender arm, connected to a small boy. John puts the child over his knee and pounds him on the back. In the meantime, the father is making his way down toward the pool but I fear that had John not been there at that moment and time, the scenario would have been different. The child would have certainly drowned and needed CPR. Had the boy sunk to the bottom of the murky pool and the father not been able to find him….the outcome might have been tragic. The father throws his son over his shoulder and the boy’s blank stare tells me he is terribly frightened or in shock. The father mistakenly thanks Will for rescuing his son and Will gives the credit to John. John tells me that he feels badly because he watched the young boy drown for some time, thinking that he was playing, before realizing that the child was in serious trouble.

Above the Hot Pools of Santa Rita Hot Springs
Posted Rules

There are tiny leaches in the lower mossy pool so John and Will change their course and head upstream. I manage to keep up with the them until we come to a large crystal pool with a polished rock waterfall slide. The mammoth rock slabs and boulders on our side of the shore are impassable so John and Will wade to the other side. I follow slowly and climb some ways up onto the jumble of rocks on the far shore. When I can go no further, I settle down to wait while John and Will head up the canyon. The large pool below my perch is crystal clear, the weather is mild and the palm trees rustle in the breeze. I wait in this blissful oasis, watching ducks glide among the reeds. John and Will return 30 minutes later, exhilarated and wanting to explore further up the canyon at another time. 

We return to the hot springs pools and soak for twenty minutes before gathering up our belongings and hiking back to the car. John is surprised and delighted when I hand him the keys and tell him to drive us off of the mountain. He does a fine job of maneuvering the rocky roads but makes a wrong turn somewhere towards the bottom of the mountain and we pop out above a valley oaisis of palm trees. Ultimately, this is a good thing because we see signs to the Jorge Hot Springs and the waterfall and know that on out next trip, a right hand turn at the crossroads to the zoo might lead to a different adventure.  

The Road Less Traveled
Santiago Oasis

I drive the ribbon highway back into San Jose stopping at the OXXO store for water, the A.T.M. for money and from there, we walk to the jewelry  store where I have opals on hold. Unfortunately it is closed this Monday’s so I am not able to show John the stones I am interested in. I have trained him well and I value his opinion but will drive in tomorrow, Tuesday and make a decision on my own.  

We power along the newly paved highway back to the Zacatitos turn off and drop down into our sleepy ocean side enclave. I squash avocados and chop onions and jalapeños to make guacamole to accompany our sundowner margaritas and wine. We watch the sun set over the “Witch Tit” Zacatitos skyline; the layered mountain montage morphing from shades of purple to steely gray. It is truly a majestic, purple mountain sunset. Will sautés mushrooms, onions and squash for our dinner enjoyed by the ambiance of solar lighting.  

Will, John and I play cards and I lose badly.   

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Baja Road Trip - Ceviche

Sunday - January 17th - San Jose

John and Will plan to go spear fishing this morning and Will asks me to buy limes so he can make ceviche.

Preparing to go Spear Fishing
Preparing to go Spear Fishing

I go into town to look more closely at two opals I spotted at during Thursday night’s Art Walk.  I spend 30 minutes looking at four different stones, narrow my choices down to two, show the owner, Ruben my business card and discuss realistic prices, not tourist prices with him. I still need to think about this purchase and getting the amount of money needed from the ATM will take two or three days depending on the maximum withdrawal limit at the Santander ATM.  Unfortunately, it being Sunday, many of the other shops are closed, including the Silvermoon Folk Art Gallery so I will need to come back another day to do my opal and souvenir shopping. I drive to Mega for supplies and a man approaches me with a bucket, soap and rags. There are several entrepreneurial men washing cars while their owners shop and it is just 60 pesos and our car is very dirty. I agree and tell him I will be back in 30 minutes. He does a good job and I pay him 100 pesos. 

Will has given me a shopping list that includes limes for the ceviche he hopes to marinate this afternoon. If John and Will can go forth and spear fish, I can go forth and spear limes and beer.

I drive the new paved highway back home and indeed Will has speared a fish and while Will squeezes the tiny hard limes I have captured into a bowl, chops onions and cubes the fish, Art reads ceviche recipes to him off the internet. 

Will’s ceviche tastes very good; accompanied by the Zacatitos sunset and enhanced with margaritas. 

Ceviche Sunset

Will's Ceviche

Will and John
We have diner at home and John, Will and I play cards by solar light.

Baja Road Trip - Zacatitos, The Waiting Game

Saturday, January 16th - Zacatitos - The Waiting Game

Art and I take an early morning beach walk. We blissfully sip coffee on our patio, watching the whales spout and inhaling the reflective blue perfection of the Sea of Cortez.

Will texts me late morning with the bad news that John has lost his wallet and that I should check to make sure John’s A.T.M. has not been used. I check our online banking and there is no unusual activity but nevertheless, we are concerned. Happily, they have enough gas to drive home but they have no money and will not be able to pick up ice, butter, coffee or to fill our gas tank to power the generator. John texts later to tell us that he is going back to the bar to look for his wallet.

I write and post this blog much of the day. 

When 2:00 P.M. rolls around both Art and I become anxious. In spite of the misfortune of the lost wallet, we expected them back by now. From our viewpoint on the hill, we can watch the road and we look for our Toyota to come down the road. It’s after 3:00 P.M. when we see the car but instead of coming home, the boys stop at Zac’s. Art watches with binoculars and we both wonder why they have stopped. 20 minutes later, Art rides his bicycle over to investigate. 20 minutes after that, I set out walking to Zac’s. I am worried, imagining that one of them is hurt and that they have gone to Zac’s to clean up their wounds. I intersect Art at Cactus Corner and he tells me that everything is O.K. but indeed they stopped at Zac’s to lick their wounds or rather to ease their hang overs with a couple of Bloody Mary’s. John was fortunate to recover his wallet at the Squid Row Bar in Cabo San Lucas. It had his A.T.M, drivers license and even 120 pesos inside which may or may not have been all of John’s remaining money from the night before.  

John and Will remember to buy gasoline for the generator but forget the ice and the coffee so we e-mail Nancy, who is going into Cabo San Lucas to pick up her six girls and she brings us coffee and ice later on. 

The boys are haggard, Will more so than John and he sprawls on the floor and John collapses onto our bed to recuperate. 

Sundowner Sunset
Saturday Night Packers Game at Zac's

Saturday Night Packers Game at Zac's 

By 6:00 P.M. the boys are recovered enough for a sundowner toast on our deck followed by Saturday night’s all you can eat dinner at Zac’s. 

Baja Road Trip - Wahoo and Hermit Crabs

Friday, January 15th, Zacatitos and a Party Night for the Boys in Cabo San Lucas.

John leaves at 9:00 A.M. to go diving with Jeff. I do a little  Marty Magic business since it is the end of the week and call home to talk with Alisha. Art and I hope to see John, Jeff and Bob drive the SeaLeg boat up onto the shore so we walk down to the beach to wait for them to return from scuba diving.

A group of Canadians drive up on a quad with two large Wahoo strapped to the hood of their vehicle. Cheryl from Canada proudly tells us that she caught the fish from a small boat that she point to on the beach. She insists that I hold one of her fish and she takes a photo of me with it, telling me that I should tell my friends back home that I caught it. It’s almost too heavy to hold and when I return the Wahoo to her to be filleted, my hands are glittering with the silvery scales from the fish. I watch while the fish is skillfully filleted and walk back to our house. 

Two Wahoo

Marty with Wahoo

Filleting the Wahoo

Will and John come back from the beach and Will gives me two hermit crabs, Popper and Corny and I enjoy their company for several hours. Unfortunately, they do not enjoy mine very much so I let them loose. 

Popper and Corny, Hermit Crabs
John and Will drive into Cabo San Lucas for the night. We give them the car and I worry about both their safety and the safety of our valued Toyota 4Runner but a party night in Cabo San Lucas is on their list. I give them a short shopping list for them to pick up on the way home tomorrow afternoon and they promise to send e-mail when they are safely checked into their hotel, La Mar de Cortez. Two hours later, I receive their e-mail. They are checked in and the car is in the hotel's secure parking lot.

Desert to Ocean View

Cactus Detail

Desert Vista
Instead of a beach walk, Art and I take a desert walk in the late afternoon. The golden afternoon light casts a magical glow on the cacti and the desert.

Art and I enjoy an pleasant and uneventful dinner at Zac’s. 

Baja Road Trip - SeaLegs Scuba Diving and Thursday Night Art Walk

Thursday, January 14th, My Birthday, Zacatitos to San Jose for the Thursday Night Art Walk

I spend a lovely leisurely birthday morning sipping coffee and writing. Will cooks up egg and veggie burritos and at 9:00 A.M. John walks down to Jeff’s beachfront estate to go diving. He returns a few minutes later telling us that the departure has been postponed until 10:00 or 10:30.  Shortly after 10:00 John heads down again and Art and I follow a respectful 15 minutes later. We don’t want to intrude but we do want to watch their Sealegs boat launch from the beach. Bob is struggling to adjust the the tire pressure of the boat so as to gain traction in the sand and the men discuss the appropriate tire pressure, setting the bead, and inflate and deflate the tires accordingly. With wheels spinning in the sand the boat gains traction and slips into the ocean. John is smiling brightly and waves goodbye. The sea is calm and day blissfully beautiful. He is invited to dive with Jeff tomorrow morning as well.

Tire Pressure Check on the Sealegs' Boat.
Tire Pressure Check

All Aboard!

I walk a way with Art on the beach before returning to the house. Will is down at the point spear fishing and Art heads down to check on him. John returns from his dive drip around noon. He and Jeff do one drift dive from Punta Gorda, floating with the current and ending in front of Jeff’s house. John has a great time, the highlight seeing several large rays, a sea turtle and schools of yellow striped fish.  Will in the meantime, spears a Golden Trevally and cleans and cooks it for a light lunch.

Will with his Golden Trevally Catch
Fresh Fish and Bean Soup

At 2:30 the four of us pile into the car to drive to San Jose. Since John needs to be home tomorrow morning to go diving with Jeff, it is doubtful that we will spend the night in San Jose so our plans are to buy supplies this afternoon and keep them in the cooler while we go to the Thursday Night Art Walk. Our first stop is Europa to see if the Esperanto Tequila we have been looking for has come in. What we are looking for is not yet in but we buy a different anejo Esperanto Tequila in an tall elegant frosted bottle. In addition to this, we leave with several bottles of wine, a bottle of Cointreau and John buys a bottle of Don Julio Tequila. It looks like we are ready to party! Our next stop is the Mega store and Art, John and Will are hungry. I caution them not to spoil their appetites but they head off to buy burritos and Art eats a Greek Swarma. I weaken since our dinner reservations aren’t until 7:45 and have John pick me up a “bebe” bean and cheese burrito. With our supplies stashed in the cooler, we park at the perimeter of the art district and walk into town. 

Thursday Art Walk in the Zocalo
Balloons for Sale in the Zocalo

Mexican Fire Opals for Sale

It’s 5:00 P.M. and I have my routine of doing the Art Walk and since I’m the birthday girl, everyone follows me obediently. We head for the Zocalo and on the way, bump into Nancy, Gina and five of her friends who have just flown in from New York. Two of the girls are still drinking their airport Margaritas and they plan to go to the Baja Brewery later to listen to Herb and Neal who are preforming tonight. We may bump into them later and I wander off with my three boys to see the shops and galleries. One of my favorite galleries is the Silvermoon Folk Art Gallery, set back under the trees at the edge of the Zocalo. A master gourd painting artist is demonstrating his art. Last year, I purchased two of this mans work and covet  many things in this gallery, but the owner is especially busy tonight and I know that I can come back another time to shop. 

Johnathon Sanchez Jewelry Gallery
Silvermoon Folk Art Gallery

We go next to the Johnathon Sanchez Jewelry Shop, a high end gallery at the edge of the Zocalo.  We are handed glasses of wine to sip while we browse and listen to the violinist. This gallery is a class act and I have purposely come here to show John and Will the lovely custom jewelry that they make. This shop caters to high end clientele and I feel a bit guilty taking advantage of their hospitality, but John makes me proud, pointing to various rings, noting the stones and asking if I like anything? The sales woman is obviously disappointed that there is nothing that truly catches my eye or the pocket book of my son or husband. 

Frank Arnold Gallery
Frank Arnold Studio

Gallery Cockapoo

Tequila and Jewelry, Frank Arnold Gallery

Our next stop is the Frank Arnold Gallery, one many people might miss because it’s entrance faces the back parking street at the edge of the art district. Frank Arnold’s painting style is big and bold and he hosts a “party” for every art walk. A small, somewhat dwarfed man regularly pours shots of tequila for those who come to browse and mingle. Carla, Frank's wife recognizes us and greets us warmly asking if we had met at the Flora Farms Day of the Dead benefit? And yes, we were there. We stroll through the gallery and into his painting studio to see the work in progress and enjoy the artistic clutter of cans of paints, brushes and easels. Their fluffy white cockapoo roams the showroom getting as much attention as the art on the walls. 

Dancers, Thursday Night Art Walk
Dancers, Thursday Night Art Walk

It is dark now and we walk to the main cross streets of the art district gravitating to the music and the dancing in the street. A group of performers wearing elaborate costumes, are dancing in the street. We have arrived at the perfect time and along with the other tourists, watch their 20 minute routine.  We pop into other brightly lit shops and galleries on our way to the Galleria Ida Victoria at the very top of the street and to the left. This is another easily missed gallery and our favorite fine art gallery. Our friends, Dan and Laurie Hennig of Boulder Creek, spend their winters in Baja and show their whimsical sculptures here. One day, I intend to purchase a Brent Lynch or John Comer oil. I am just waiting for the perfect one.
Mexican Combination

Juan Bobroskie at the Tropicana

La Cuenta 

Marty and Art

It’s now 7:30 P.M. time for our dinner reservations at the Tropicana Restaurant. We walk the several blocks quickly and choose their outside seating and enjoy a marvelous dinner. Will orders a Cafe Mexican which is made table side with a flourish of flaming liquor being poured between two pitchers. I order a cadillac margarita but like the taste of Art’s regular margarita better, so follow with a second, regular margarita…after all, today is my birthday. The Caesar Salad, also made table side is excellent and I share the salad with Art along with the Mexican platter. Everything is delicious!  Will orders ribs and John orders a steak arrachera. Art grimaces slightly when he pays the bill. 

Herb and Neal, Baja Brewery
 It’s nearly 9:00 P.M. when we arrive at the Baja Brewery. The bar is partially open to the street and although it’s not especially busy, we’re told there is no seating. I guess we don’t look young or cool enough, but we tell the hostess that we don’t need to sit and that we are friends of the band and walk in and there is plenty of seating. Will and John buy me a birthday shot of tequila and we sit and listen to the the band. Herb and Neal both live in Zacatitos and I enjoy their sound. The six girls are on the dance floor and Gina urges John and Will to dance with them.  Lights spill out on the dance floor and Art and I dance to a few of the songs.

It has been an awesome birthday!