07 November 2013
November 6, 2013
We've been in Ensenada for a couple of days now. I have been to Mexico before so I'm not surprised by anything I see. But it is different now, in that this is where we will be living for six months at a time. I want to immerse myself in their culture, get to know the Mexican people and learn to speak their language.
As we all know, first impressions... well, they are just that, first impressions. This is not a judgment or even an opinion and I am sure my impressions will change as I become familiar with the country and its natives. But for now, this is what I have observed.
Ensenada is a big, sprawling city, nestled by the mountains and lying along a huge bay. (My father left me with images of a sleepy, Mexican village on the Pacific beach. But then that was thirty years ago.)
That everyone who passes you by in the marina says hello, good morning or good afternoon, whether it be English or Spanish.
That the immigration officials don't care much for Americans. (Nor can I blame them as I witnessed rude and demanding behavior.)
It is 7 am and I am sitting in the cockpit of our boat having coffee. I notice two, young, beautiful Mexican women on the sailboat three slips down. They both have long, thick, hair. One is blonde and the other, her hair is black as night. They still have on last night's evening dresses; the blonde has a short, tight, red dress and the woman with black hair wears a long, black dress with a slip up the side of her leg. Both still have on last night's make-up, as well, and stand barefoot, carrying their six-inch stilettos in their hands. Their heads are together as the converse quietly in Spanish, giggling, while the American yatista (twice their age) closes up his boat and escorts them to the car.
Something tells me he had a good time last night.
Mexicans love their music; there are Mariachi bands everywhere.
The street tacos are everything Jay promised. After walking three miles, or so, into town, we asked Rogelio of Baja Naval where the best fish tacos were to be found.
"Go out to the Boulevar and go right. Take that to the street before the bridge and then turn left. Walk six blocks and turn right, go over the bridge and it will be on your left."
"What is the name?"
"I don't know, but you can't miss it. It is the one with all the people."
He was right. All Mexicans. No Americans. This must be the place.
We order the tacos, pour on the special sauce (made by the old woman sitting on a box behind the counter. She mixes it in a big vat and does the taste touch with her finger), dress them with lettuce, onions, salsa, etc.
Delicious. And inexpensive. 9 tacos, 2 coca-colas, 1 bottle of water All for under 120 pesos. (about $11)
That American currency is used in Ensenada as much as Pesos - and sometimes preferred.
Sitting at the pool, I watched the lone American woman start drinking at eight in the morning. At lunch, I left to make us sandwiches. By the time I got back she had moved in on Don and Jay, only to move out quickly when she saw me. She had told them she was here from Chicago for her mother's wedding, her brother had died in the war and she had been residing on D Dock for a month now.
You can't leave your men alone for a second.
That Mexicans have a good sense of humor. (Based on the signs around town, like the one for Viagra and picking up after your dog.)
That the verdict is still out on whether I like cactus as a food group.
That there is not one, but two security gates to get into the hotel & marina.
Waking up in the middle of the night to bow thrusters and men with flashlights running around the docks.
That using the internet here is a test in patience.
Walking through town, we see families with little children, barefoot and filthy, selling their hand-crafted jewelry. One little girl, about six years old, approaches me.
"You buy? One dollar."
"One penny!" She yells. "Almost free!"
We burst out laughing.
The next day, the same little girl tries a different approach. She follows me, says nothing, but carries her hand-crafted jewelry and looks at me with pleading eyes. Now this girl is not starving. She is round and plump. I wonder if she is for real or if this is just a performance taught to her by her parents.
Later, I pass a young woman with disheveled hair, sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk and leaning against a street sign. A baby sleeps on her chest and she holds out an empty Styrofoam cup. Her eyes speak the truth and I am haunted by them as I walk away.
Why didn't I give her some money? If only to have the privilegeof taking a photo.
This one I will stop and help should I cross her path again.