la paz – monday

lions and tigers and bears, oh my — well, not really. more like sea lions, whales, and the attessa , oh my!

Monday started bright and early and proved to be the best day of our trip to La Paz, Mexico. We set out with the our captain Jurrie, and Dive Master Juan from Fun Baja. Fitted in shortie wet suits, fins, mask and snorkel wet set sail on a vey fast 6 person outboard boat. The water was a bit choppy for the first part of our trip to Isla Espiritus – the most amazing rock islands and home to many bird and sea creatures in the Sea of Cortez. On our way things smoothed out, and we met a humpback whale who greeted us with a tale splash 3 times. We saw sea turtles, manta ray, and dolphin near one of the to 10 beaches in the world.

Jim and Marlene were the other couple out for this adventure with us. It was very nice to be the only 4 people on the boat – we had lots of personal attention and great conversations about the environment, kids, life, and career. The world is very small – Jim and Marlene are from Seattle (Lake Forest Park) and live in La Paz 5 months out of the year. Jim worked with Starbucks and Nordstrom, and Marlene owned a bakery in Seattle. They are a very successful couple who look like they were married yesterday. Great role models and really fun people.

Once at Isla Espiritus, I got a on board lesson on what to expect from my very first snorkeling expedition. How to defog my mask and clear it if water got in, what to do if water entered my snorkel and how to check my visibility – left, right, up and down. Then it was time to put on the fins and jump in. Sea Lions make this place their breeding ground so there was a joyful chorus happening between the huge males – I think they were just welcoming to their home. Juan went in first and coaxed me off the boat into the water. He held my hands and was so gentle in his instruction. First I had to acclimate myself to the water temperature – which was actually quite nice. Then we took a minute or two to just feels the waves – “become one with the ocean”. Once I was settled into the water, it was time to test out my breathing apparatus. Being my first time with a snorkel on, it was a little scary to think that I could but my face in the water and still breathe – but it worked! (of course it worked – people have been doing this for years!!). Juan led me around the little inlet and I saw lots of yellow tail fish. The sea lions continued to cheer me on as Juan let go and I swam and snorkeled solo. Figuring out that there wasn’t much needed with the kick was my second learning hurdle. Once I was comfortable, we headed back to the boat, and I stayed in the water to wait for M and Jurrie who was going to be our guide. Juan suited up in his diving gear to take Jim and Marlene on a 30 ft dive below the islands.

While I waited for the boys to join me, I felt a sharp sting on my right wrist but couldn’t see anything so I just continued on with my kicking and floating as I waited. When the boys were ready we set off to explore all around the islands. There were more yellow tail fish, lots of beautifully stripped fish, starfish, tiny bright purple fish and really beautiful coral. We swam snorkeled through a cavern – it was dark, cold and there were tiny plankton that lit up. I felt like I was in an aquarium, visiting the undersea world for the first time was magical. The thing that I couldn’t get over was the sound. I heard this electrical crackle – like rice crispies when you first pour on milk. When Juan returned I asked him about this and he said it is the sound of the coral growing. They creat a bubble and the pop is the crackle we hear.

Jim and Marlene went back out for an second dive and M tootled around the inlet with the sea lions while I snapped pics from the boat. The sting on my hand was getting worse, and all the “oneness” with the ocean current had me a little queasy. When the diving team returned, I learned that I had most likely been stung by a baby jellyfish. Some medication was applied and by the end of the day, my hand was as good as new.

Our adventure wasn’t over yet! We headed back about 20 mins to the private beach/campsite where a beautiful lunch of fresh vegetable soup and grilled fish waited for us. Cervesa’s and a ceremonial tequila shot wrapped up the meal and we headed out into this crystal clear bay to try some paddle boarding. You can literally walk 700 ft out into the water at thigh level. The warmest, bluest, clearest water I’ve ever seen. It was manta ray breeding season so we were advised to not do too much wandering, and to shuffle our feet if we did land in the water. M did a great job on the paddle board after finding his balance. Again Juan was the most patient teacher. I didn’t fare so well. After 5 attempts and 5 falls, I proclaimed M the newbie paddle board champion, but promised to find a place in SF or Santa Cruz to master it!

The day was a success, and 4 tired water babies headed back to home. The ride was extremely choppy due to off shore storms, but we made it back no worse for wear. On our entrance into the marina we passed the majestic or maybe opulent is a better descriptor of the yacht
called the Attessa. M and I had seen this vessel on one of those travel channel shows – worlds most expensive yachts – but seeing her up close and personal was a trip! 4 levels, beautiful dark wood, everything polished and shined, 11 live aboard crew members and the helicopter that topped it off. The 8th richest man in the world owns her, and he may have been in La Paz because the Attessa had been out a few times since we arrived. Pretty good company, huh!

Exhausted from our amazing day, we headed back to the room to relax, get some food, and just soak it all in. Jim and Marlene left us with an invitation back to stay at one of their 3 properties they own in the marina – yeah, we scored a place to stay when we come back and bring our friends with us!!!

The night ended with dinner at the Italian restaurant in the marina, and a midnight walk on the beach to the beach beds at the Costa Baja beach club. The moon was bright and beautiful against the water, and the stars were so close you could touch them. Perfect ending to a perfect vacation.

Costa Baja and City of La Paz, we love you and we are already planning our next visit. Until then, Vaya Con Dios!

P.S. I’ll be adding a link with pictures from all of our adventures soon.

la paz – sunday

We’ve been told that la paz means peace, and I can see why. this place is a secret (do not tell anyone) – its tranquil, and beautiful yet all of the people we’ve met are full of energy and life! I believe it’s this place casting its magical spell on everyone who visits. Side note: The Hotel California is few miles from here, wasn’t it supposed to have some magic about it?

Back to Sunday…
we started with a quick breakfast including “green juice” – how did they know I’ve become a juice freak? Spinach, cucumber, cactus, pineapple, and I think kiwi. Amazing way to start the day (and help flush some of that tequila from the night before).

From breakfast we headed to the spa! If there is ‘spa’ in the name of any hotel I’m staying in – I have to try at least one treatment! We had salt scrubs and ‘M’ loved his, mine was nice, but there were comic moments throughout that punctuated the fact that I was in another country.

My technician – we’ll call her Maggie – perspired from her hands. (pausing to let that sink in)
Now if I knew this about myself, I’m not sure touching people in a relaxing way would be the profession I would have chosen – or maybe if it were my calling, I’d have done something about my clammy, moist pits before I out them on someone’s naked body.
I struggled through the initial touch only because I knew she would be quickly putting water and slats on to do the scrub. Plus, she spoke no English (or very little) and our communication had already been choppy. [je parle Francais, je ne parle pas Espanole].
we proceeded on and her movements through the room were loud and clumsy – unlike the treatments where you know the technician is doing something, but have no idea what it is, nor do you care because you’re so relaxed. Not so much with Maggie. Her shoes made this duck quacking squeak against the floors every time she moved, and she moved a lot. Then she used a very loud electronic scrubbing tool on the left side of the front of my body (it ran out of power so no buffing for the rest of me) LOL I am giggling inside at this point, just taking it all in as the experience it is. My internal funny quickly turned to “What the what?!” when Maggie full on grabbed a boob! Uhhhh, really? She grabbed, lifted, pushed the girls around to make sure all surfaces had been scrubbed. (oh my!) This just continued to make for a great story. The back side was done with no big surprises (thank goodness!!) and it was time to shower. No instruction was given except rinse, but don’t use any soap, just rinse so I did, and proceeded to get dressed. Thanks Maggie that was interesting, and I did feel 100% smoother – mission accomplished. No. Maggie knocked on the door and couldn’t find words to tell me that we weren’t finished, so we stumbled around it and I figured it out. Back to the room – squeak, squeak, squeak down the hall. She sprayed me down with something she kept putting in my face to smell, and applied a lotion to seal me up. Now we were done. I thanked her – honestly it was a great treatment, just hella funny!

After spa’ing we chilled by the pool, grabbed a small bite, met up with Rick and Cydney – said our goodbyes as they were going to explore town and we’d most likely not see them again. We’re hoping to connect in Napa or Sonoma later this year. New people were showing up at the pool, which was great to see the constant stream of people because I’d hate for this resort to close due to lack of business!

We decided that we would go check out the club house at the Gary Player PGA Pro golf course. A short ride up the hill and we rented a golf cart and started to drive the course. M is a very good golfer who hasn’t swung a club in a few years, so playing this course was out for him, but he wanted o see the holes and size up it’s challenge for “next time” (yeah). The views were breathtaking, the design was outstanding, and this being my first time being on a golf course, I was impressed by the challenge of the game. M quickly figured out that playing here would be in his future – no need to be intimidated, just be ready for a good 5-6 hours of play. We even watched a few people play through some of the more difficult holes – so much fun!!

We ended the night with sushi from a great restaurant in the marina, and came back to our room to be serenaded by a mariachi band playing in a condo across the pool. Amazing day ended with some Ai-yi-yi-yi, and La Cucaracha!!!

Muy, muy Bien! Sunday=snorkeling!

la paz – saturday

day 2 in Mexico started with a trip into town. la paz is everything i thought i had hoped it would be. authentic, polite, friendly and the right mix of new and old. everywhere we went people were helpful and very proud of their beautiful part of the world. we were told about the Espiritus Island more than once which increased the anticipation of our visit on Monday. souvenirs were purchased for friends and family back home, and we met a young man from San Diego who has been in la Paz for the last 8 months clearing his head. an excellent baseball player (pitcher) ran into some life issues when his father passed away. school, baseball and family all became less important and trouble took their place. his mother knew sending him to stay with his grandmother in la Paz was the best thing for him. He was excited to get back to CA, back on track, and back to baseball. I told him we’d be watching for him – and that school was the key to his future.

back at the resort, we took our place at the pool bar and met a great couple from San Diego – Cydney and Rick. We proceeded to share stories about our lives, kids, jobs, and enjoy the beautiful day. Tequila was the bond – and as a pre dinner festivity we tasted 4 amazing tequilas sided by side. My Starbucks coffee tasting training has served me well in setting up tastings of other beverages. We all chose our favorite and everyone’s palette chose a different tequila. Lots of fun with our new friends Cyd and Rock.

The night ended with some photography of the stars, the sky was filled, and with it being so dark i had to try some super long exposures. we’ll see if I was able to capture any star trails…fingers crossed!

la paz – friday

Baja reminds us of Arizona. dry, brown hot,and beautiful. the Costa Baja Resort is amazing. It sits in a protected cove of the Sea of Cortez, and the water is so clear and warm. we walked out to our belly buttons and could still see the ocean floor. white sand beaches and cool ocean winds make it perfect.

Our room has a great view said ocean, as well as the swim up bar in the beautiful blue tiled infinity pool. we checked in, washed the travel off, jumped in swim suits and “bellied” right up to that bar! Nahteya was our server, and she suggested some of the best seafood dishes I’ve ever had. The aguachile camerons, and the scallops in this jalapeƱo tomato and lime juice dishes were/are my absolute favorites. So light, refreshing, and clean tasting – the favors sang to me!

We met tuna fishermen from LA, and a few locals. It always starts with just M and I at a bar and before you know it, there is a party! Good times!

Dinner at the resorts restaurant – Steinbeck’s – continued the fresh fish extravaganza. I had a fish I’ve never heard of, similar to our sea bass, and M had the Mahi Mahi. Both dishes were incredible, and we couldn’t complete our first day without a shot of their best tequila – Don Julio REAL – boy was it Real! If you know anything about me, you know I am a tequila girl, and the restaurant bar has 3 full walls of tequila! Heaven!! I can’t wait to go back and get acquainted with them!! I say there should be nothing wrong with a self created tequila class, little sips of this and that to really gain an appreciation for subtleties of tequila. Off to see what day 2 brings!

la paz, mexico

Our journey to La Paz has begun with dropping off our fur friends at their very own hotel where they will be spa’d and treated like the little kings and queens they are. their Jr Suite even comes with a web cam so we can check in on them at all times!

The 1 AM flight was supposed to be a time saver for our 4 day excursion, but it was a bit brutal staying awake and not cranky in the airport. Once on the plane things got much better and the super cheap upgrade to 1st class made sleeping on the flight to Mexico City easy.

What hasn’t been easy is dealing with my dad’s heart situation. Being able to talk to him, to hear him go from sounding concerned to joking about tequila has helped. To know that my mom (health and wellness traffic control officer of the year) is there with him helps a ton too. I think she’s stood by long enough and watched him not tell the doctors everything they need to know. His medical team is very well informed with Clara J in the mix .