Saturday, February 14, 2009


From the air Baja California is bi-chromatic. Our plane followed the east coast, where the Sea of Cortez is unnaturally blue and the land is the color of cinnamon. Cacti, mesquite and brown grass flank the runway in Loreto. Five Mexican soldiers in desert camouflage stood in front of the terminal as we crossed the tarmac. One turned and we could see the machine gun he was holding at a 45-degree angle, muzzle down. The soldiers stared at us and the other passengers as we passed. Loreto is dust, trash, unpaved streets, chickens in the yards, and stray dogs. Sam Peckinpah would have liked it here. The beach is rocks and coarse brown sand, and pelicans perch on the breakwall. I thought of lines from Eric Ormsby’s “My First Beach":

“…the white-ribbed wavelets bundle to the shore,
like old men emptying there pockets out…”

We walked into town for dinner, past campaign signs for someone named Yuan Yee and a clothing store, “Fashion’s [sic].” Dinner was good -- burritos, refried beans, rice -- and on the walk back to the house my almost-6-year-old lost his first tooth. It had fallen on the sidewalk and we couldn’t find it. The sun was setting and the mountains, which in silhouette are ragged like a mouthful of bad teeth, glowed pink around the edges.

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