Today we went shopping for fresh vegetables. Such a simple statement, but the actual event is so much more, so in true blog style I will try to describe our adventure.
We’re currently anchored in Caleta San Juanico, which is about 40 miles as the blue footed boobie flies from Loreto. In this bay there are 7 sailboats including Happy Dance, a handful of campers on shore, and two casas on the hill. Today a small contingent of 18′ wooden sail boats flew in under sail to set up camp for a leadership training course and they’ll be here for a few days. Are you getting the picture? It’s a large bay with a bunch of adventuresome self-sufficient types, all enjoying the beauty and the isolation. In other words, there ain’t no Walmart!
After about a week or so at anchor we always start to run out of fresh green produce. The potatoes, onions, cabbage, limes, carrots, tomatillos, etc., those all stay fresh for a good long time. It’s the green leafy types that disappear rapidly.
We’d heard about the possibility of getting some fresh veggies from a ranchito that was a little over a mile away. Since we needed some terra firma exercise we decided to venture out and see if we could find this place.
To get the full effect of what it means to go veggie shopping while in a remote anchorage, you have to remember all the steps involved, and not just the ones we’ll take while walking down the path! Marty first needed to inflate the flat dinghy wheels (yes, our dinghy has wheels so we can pull it up the beach), then he wanted to take a little time while on the beach to try to find the mystery leak that has been evading him. We loaded up with shoes, wheels, backpack, and assorted tools for the leak team, then headed off to the beach, timed our landing between waves, and pulled Tiny Dancer (our dinghy) up above the high tide line on the beach. Marty played detective with his wrenches and silicone while I took a walk down the beach.
When Marty finished up, we put on our shoes and headed over to the path that would take us around the lagoon. As it turns out this lagoon, that is now landlocked, was once a nice little inlet that led from the bay to the lagoon, but Hurricane Odile washed so much sand and rock up on the beach that the inlet is now a hill of sand. But I digress. The lagoon is a still pond now, populated by loons and herons, cormorants and kingfishers.
It always gets quiet when you leave the shore and walk inland, but today the wind was howling along the cliff sides and across the dried river bed. We walked around the lagoon and came to a dirt path with plenty of tracks left by the horses and mules we’ve been seeing wandering about. We followed those to a wider path that led to a dirt road. That dirt road led to another dirt road that was bordered on both sides by a perfect row of stones set into the soft dirt.
After a mile or so we went up a slight hill, then down the other side, around a bend, and low and behold we found an oasis. There were plenty of small fruit trees bordering a neat little stone casa, with a fenced garden on one side and a thatch covered patio on the other. There was a chicken house a little distance away, a rack of beautifully tooled leather saddles, and plenty of neat paths, all bordered with stones. The garden had raised beds, with frames for green house covers, irrigation pipes for watering, and plenty of GREEN!
We made friends with the two dogs that announced our presence. The Spanish music coming from inside the house was turned off and out came a nice looking Mexican man to meet us. We introduced ourselves and were soon chatting with Jose, in our broken Spanish. He took us into the garden, explained that he’d started building two years ago, and that the veggies were organic. We walked around from bed to bed and Jose pulled up carrots, green onions, beets, cut us a few bunches of oregano and lettuce, washed them all, then bagged them up for us. He had plenty of other produce that wasn’t quite ready but would all be very tasty in a few more weeks.
After chatting with Jose a bit longer we learned that he has never lived in a city, that he was raised in the mountains near San Javier, and his father is named Martin. He has a wife and an 8-year old daughter who goes to school during the week in Loreto. We soon ran out of easily explained factoids about us all, so we paid him 80 pesos ($5.50 or so) for our haul, shook his hand with plenty of gracias, and we headed back to the road.
When we got back to the dinghy the wind had picked up into the 20’s so it was a bumpy ride back to the boat, but we were soon onboard. After our three hour expedition into an unexpected desert oasis, we were rewarded with fresh beet salad to go with our Parmesan chicken for dinner.
You’re probably getting the idea by now that when you live on a boat small chores often become big chores, and when you’re very lucky they also become adventures. Today was like that. It’s these unexpected discoveries that make this lifestyle so satisfying. When you are able to reach into the lifestyle of these beautiful people and shake a hand that is made of soft leather from years of hard work, look into the eyes of a new friend; it’s such a privilege.
So please forgive me for waxing poetic about a bunch of veggies, but when you go to the grocery store next time, remember Jose and his little plot of veggies out in the empty desert, and smile along with us.