Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life in Loreto

More on life in Loreto.

Last night I had a little trouble finding a place to eat supper. I was a little later than usual and so several places had already filled up. And several of the restaurants (Mandiles, Islas, 1697, Panchmama) are closed on Tuesday's (which probably contributes to the others being busier). I thought I'd try El Taste, which is a chain. It doesn't get great reviews but Shelley and I had eaten lunch at one last year and it was ok. It was quite a pleasant evening outside, but inside El Taste it was stifling and stuffy. I was the only customer. I couldn't imagine sitting in there for any length of time regardless of the food so I walked back out.

I ended up back at Canipoli. I really like this little family run place. The tables are in a quiet shady courtyard with a fountain in the middle. There's even a view of the church tower from some of the tables. One night when it was cool they brought me a blanket. The kitchen is open and you can watch them prepare the meals. So far, a delightful place. But the service really sucks. Two young girls, maybe 12 years old, presumably daughters, wait on the tables. But they also tend bar and since virtually every tourist has to order margarita's they tend to get tied up with making them. You seat yourself, and then wait 15 minutes to get a menu. Then you wait another 20 minutes to order. I watched several groups of tourists get impatient and walk out. One night Shelley and I had ordered a bottle of wine (just the house wine - no choices) and it took about 45 minutes to arrive. It looked like one of the kids eventually ran to the grocery store to get it. Last night the food also took forever. I suspect it sat somewhere forgotten, since it arrived cold. I know what to expect and I take it in stride, but even for Mexico it seems pretty bad. It's worth going, but don't be in a hurry!

On the days that I haven't been diving I've been getting out for a run first thing in the morning while it's still cool. Last time I went for about an hour, north out of town on the road and then back on the beach. The beach is mostly good firm sand, but the soft or rocky parts give you an extra workout. It's great to watch all the birds - gulls, egrets, herons, pelicans, etc. And running along the beach you get to watch for interesting things washed up - puffer fish, sea slugs, shells. Although there are crabs here, even Sally Lightfoot's like in Galapagos, there don't seem to be many along the beach. Eventually I found a few tiny ones under rocks.

After my run I was sitting on the deck on the roof of the hotel cooling off, looking at the ocean and half a dozen dolphins went by in the bay. They were fairly far away but it was still neat to see them.

I went diving again today. Rafael, who runs the dive shop, is determined to reduce the weight I'm using. I started with 24 lbs, then went to 22 lbs, and today 20 lbs. Rafael keeps saying he only needs 16 lbs. (You need so much weight because of the buoyancy of the thick wet suits, but it's ok once you get down because the pressure compresses the wetsuit. Less weight is better once you get down because you don't need as much air in your BCD.) But with 20 lbs I had a heck of a time getting down, even swimming down headfirst. I could feel Rafael pushing me down from above! The problem was at the end of the dive when we did our safety stop at 5m I couldn't stay down. I had to be head down kicking constantly. Rafael ended up giving me his weight belt. He can't understand why I need so much weight. Beats me. I wouldn't be surprised if I was doing something wrong, but I'm not sure what. I was being careful to get all the air out of my BCD which is the usual cause of the problem.

It was a beautiful calm day on the water. Most days even when it starts calm it gets windy and rough by noon, but today it stayed nice and calm.

Ramon, our boat drive driver, always brings his fishing rod and in between dives he fishes. But Rafael says he never catches anything, so we were surprised today when he hooked one. It was a decent size white fish (maybe 2 ft long) but as he was lifting it out of the water the hook came out and the fish swam away. Personally, I was just as happy. Although I eat fish occasionally, I'd much prefer to see them swimming around under water. I think Ramon was pretty annoyed though!

He was also asking me about where I was from and what I did, especially considering I was here for so long. I told him I had a computer software company. He wanted to know if I was the "hefe" (boss), miming this by saluting. I said yes, and his next question was how many employees. He was quite surprised when I said about 50. "You pay them every month? How much?" I gave him a rough figure and I could see his eyes get wider as he calculated the monthly payroll. I don't blame him. I don't like to think about it myself. He wanted to know if they were all working while I was here. I said, of course, they don't need me. He laughed and agreed, of course they don't need you, you're just the hefe. He figured it was a good arrangement for my staff to work and me to travel. I agree :-)

After diving I figure I deserve ice cream. My primary ice cream place was all out after the long weekend, but luckily I have a backup. They're not as generous, but maybe because of that, they had lots of ice cream left. They also sell home made popsicles. I tried a strawberry one the other day - delicious, made with real strawberries, not artificial flavoring.

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