Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thoughts from Loreto

I've spent quite a lot of time lately posting photos but I realize I haven't really written much. Pictures are marvelous, but they can only go so far to explain what it's like to be somewhere. And they say very little about what's it's like inside my head.

It seems like a long time since the conference in San Diego. And it seems very different here from there.

The first week here, with Shelley, was a lot like our usual travels. We were keen to fill up our days, to see and do as much as possible in the short week we had. Not that we were rushing around, just that we wanted to take advantage of the time.

After Shelley left, things have slowed down. Other than the diving I've done, I haven't tried to fill up my days. First thing, when it's cool and quiet, a run or a walk on the beach. Then breakfast and a good book. A few hours on the laptop over a latte at the coffee shop. A stop at the bakery and the supermarket. Some quiet time in my cool hotel room during the hottest hours of the day. The wireless doesn't reach my room, which is perhaps a blessing. But I can still download from the cameras and review the photos I've taken. Then back out into the sun, which is the perfect excuse for an ice cream :-) Another couple of hours on the laptop over another latte at the coffee shop. (Luckily it's a different girl in the afternoon so I'm not quite so self-conscious about spending so much time there!) And then it's time to look for somewhere to have supper. Some days it's a Pacifico beer and fish tacos at the Giggling Dolphin, other days it's a classier dinner at 1697 or Panchomama over a glass of wine. Then back to the hotel to read for a while before turning in for the night.

I could be trying to get out of town for a hike in the dessert, which would require some kind of transportation. I could be trying to arrange some sea kayaking. I even brought camping gear so I could go out overnight. But I'm not sure I'll get to any of that. Perhaps it's laziness. But the reason I wanted to stay here for a longer period was to just be here, without trying to do so much. To see what it was like just to live somewhere different. I've traveled lots, but I've never just lived anywhere other than Saskatoon.

Doing some work is part of that. It's not that I have to work. There's nothing that couldn't wait. But my work is part of who I am. No one would find it strange that a painter would want to paint. So why should it be any different for a programmer to want to program? It is different, programming is not as artistically creative. But it's still creating and it still gives me pleasure to accomplish things, as mundane as they might be. So far I haven't accomplished a lot of work - one of the drawbacks of a slower pace! But I've managed a few things.

Loreto is a mixed up place. On one hand it's a 300 year old Mexican town. On the other hand it's a booming area for Americans to buy real estate. It's also somewhat of a tourist destination. The cruise ships even stop here. And the locals aren't examples of some quaint old Mexican culture. They're teenagers with monster trucks with monster sound systems driving up and down the malecon honking their horns and talking on their cell phones. And yet, there is still some old culture around. Still people going to church.

Like everywhere, cars rule. Even the "pedestrian" shopping street allows cars. I'm not sure what qualifies it as a "pedestrian" street. I guess because it's narrow with no sidewalks. Which actually makes it more dangerous for pedestrians than the regular streets.

The street where they should ban cars is the malecon, running along the waterfront. This could be such a peaceful enjoyable place with the boardwalk along the water and the restaurants with views of the ocean. Instead it's a constant stream of cars with their stereos cranked to the maximum level of distortion. Having supper and watching the sunset over the ocean sounds great, but the horrendous racket spoils the scene. And in case you think this is just the teenagers, it's not. Whole families from parents to young kids drive up and down or park to watch their friends drive up and down. But these people aren't looking at the view, they don't need to be on the water front. Give them a street somewhere else, that I don't need to be near. Leave the ocean in peace for those of us who want to walk quietly and watch the sun set.

Nor do they seem to realize that the town square could be much more than it is. There are a couple of restaurants and the Posada de las Flores hotel beside the square, but there's room for shops, more restaurants, a bar, a bakery, ice cream, another coffee shop. Instead there are several buildings that have appeared abandoned since I was here a year ago. The result is that the square languishes somewhat sadly forgotten.

Still, there's lots to enjoy here. The sunshine, the birds singing, the bougainvillea, the ocean, the goofy pelicans, the restaurants and the coffee shop (which wouldn't be here without all the gringos).

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