Turtle Bay - One Year Later
23 November 2014
Thursday, November 20, 2014
So much has changed and yet much has remained the same.
The streets are still dirt, lined with houses in various states of disrepair. And then... a beautiful door, a flower box, or a brand new Ford truck, adorns the shabby facade. It brings to mind hope against a starving background.
The pier still stands with its rickety stairs. Men work diligently to keep up the repairs. At the end of the pier on the beach is a newly painted wall; bright blue with large white letters, "Welcome to Bahia Tortuga." It is a stark contrast to it's neighbor; collapsed walls of a once thriving cannery.
As we walk toward shore, Jay wonders aloud what it must have been like during the days when Turtle Bay was a prospering village. He mentions, too, that he feels as if he has walked into a Steinbeck novel.
Enrique is still the dockmaster. Only now he has a different cast of characters. Gone is Pedro. The young man with one and a half arms. Maria too. When I ask Enrique, "Donde esta Maria, su hermana?" He replies, "No say." Her restaurant is closed and she has vanished. Did she succumb to her old ways? Or did she go in search of a better life?
As we walk further, we find Rogellio in front of his house. He sweeps the dirt and tidies the beach he calls his front lawn. Next door, Antonio's Bar is locked up tight. No signs of life.
"Donde esta Antonio?" We ask his father.
He has gone to Ensenada for a brief holiday after the Baja Haha, we are told. We will not see him this visit.
Dogs are plentiful here and as I wrote before, although they are covered with dirt and look like strays (One poor mutt looked like he was sporting dreadlocks for a do.), they are much loved. We watch as one man takes his two pets onto the pier and drops them twenty feet into the water. The dogs rise up out of the bay and swim to shore, bounding up to the pier, begging for another dump into the sea.
Paula's La Palapa has replaced Maria's restaurant. It sits on a hill overlooking the bay. Paula is a spunky lass who has a great sense of humor and loves to laugh at her own jokes. She speaks no English and we speak little Spanish, yet we communicate.
We frequent the restaurant twice while we are in Turtle Bay and both times she has two women friends visiting. One has a four year old son, Rueben, and the other a six-month old baby, Ophelia. Bobbi takes Ophelia into her arms and beams, proving she would be a natural grandmother.
Children will be children everywhere and as we walked down the road and over to a liquor store, three young boys charged past us and ran inside. What business they had there, I wasn't sure until I saw a glass counter with a few pieces of candy behind it. All three boys' noses were pressed against the pane, their breath fogging up the glass. One hand was dropping a coin on the counter, while the other was pointing to their choice. Treasures in hand, they ran outside, delighted.
Back at the boat, we watch as the fisherman gather several of their pangas. Working together, they drop a large circular net (about 500 feet) leaving one side open. Another panga begins to run up and down the open section of the net, chasing the fish into the net. Slowly, the pangas close up the circle and pull their catch onto their boats. It seems the local fisherman have learned a thing or two from dolphins.
While at anchor, we take the opportunity to provision. This will be the last town until we reach San Jose del Cabo next week. Enrique's crew supplies us with fuel and water. Jay and Don go about the boat, checking the rigging and fixing the davits. They took quite a beating on this last leg.
It is time to move on. Bahia Asuncion is our next stop. It is only fifty miles from Turtle Bay and they are calling for winds, five to ten knots. We are hoping for enough wind to sail.
All during our stay in Turtle Bay, I was trying to get onto the internet. No luck. Jay was able to get his mail. Don was able to get his mail. But I was not.
I think this was God's way of telling me, "Pay attention. Be present to what is here." So there was no Obama, no Putin, no North Korea. No tales from home. Only a few cruisers, Turtle Bay, and those who call it home created my world for two days.
I have only been here twice. I may never be here again. But I will carry the memory of Turtle Bay and its people as we sail away.