Whale Sharks, Chocolate Clams and Southern American History over Asian Feast: Baja Day 3

Today began with a brisk, cold shower (I, yet again, forgot to turn on the water heater 10 minutes ahead of time to ensure a warm bathing experience). Then breakfast, while the cat, Cinco and one of five (perhaps he’s the last to join the clan) twined between my ankles. Next, into the tan SUV with faulty door locks along with Molly, Sergio and Sergio’s sister Katya for an 1 1/2 hour drive from Todos Santos to La Paz on the coast of the Sea of Cortez. Once there we suited up in wet suits and boarded a small motor boat captained by the tan and dashing Adrian who took us out into the bay to look for the baby whale shark purportedly in the area. As we jettisoned out into the ethereal green, blue water I mused to myself how we would find this ten-foot-krill-eating-peaceful fish in such a large bay. The analogy of the needle in the haystack came to mind.

Though we searched diligently for about 2 1/2 hours, winding our way back and forth in the bay, there was no sign of the gentle tiburon to be found. I overheard Adrian say to Sergio, in Spanish, that there had been 8-10 adult sharks in the bay around Semana Santa, Holy Week, recently. I then mentally patted myself on the back for understanding what was being said. Despite the lack of baby whale shark in my morning, Molly and I had great conversations over the thrum of the outboard motor, I drank a bottle of tooth melting Miranda orange soda (the Mexicans like their sugar. Sergio eats his cereal drenched in condensed milk every morning) and generally enjoyed the magnificent day.

Later we ran all over town to obtain a fishing license for John, Molly and Bryan’s father, who’d be arriving later that day. But due to the miserable bureaucracy of the ordeal (3 different locations to obtain one license and 2 of the places had no receipts so Sergio couldn’t pay and the offices closed at 2:00– yes, not helpful at all) we ditched the fishing license and went to get lunch instead, Sergio concluding that he’d pay the Navy itself if they showed up and wanted compensation. Much easier than running a bureaucratic marathon all over downtown La Paz in 100 degree weather.

Lunch was located in an open air building across the street from the bay. Katya told me the restaurant began as a roadside cart and became what it is now– one of the most popular eateries on La Paz’s main drag (they still have the cart out front for kicks) I had dos tacos de camarones y dorado respectively and a smoked marlin empanada dripping with guac and homemade pico de gallo as did Molly, while Sergio slurped down alemejas chocolates (chocolate clams) and Katya downed a bowl of fresh clam chowder in a bread bowl very reminiscent of the Pier 39 equivalent. Fun fact: the clams come to you fresh, opened and live, on a platter. The shells with their meaty goodness inside are garlanded with lime wedges– the eater’s weapons of choice. You squeeze the lime wedges directly and copiously onto the clams, the acid killing and “cooking” them simultaneously (they writhe– not comfortable for me or surely the clam). Then slurp away. I was not fond of the texture.

I slept on the car ride back and then headed to my casita to read until going out for dinner with the crew: Bryan, Molly, John and Sergio.

Molly: “You mean we have to eat again!?” We were stuffed from our fresh and local seafood lunch in La Paz.

But somehow I managed to eat plenty at dinner that night: Vietnamese crab cakes, curried fish filets, Szechuan shrimp, thinly sliced beef in a sweet marinade, scallops in a spicy herb sauce, fresh limonada and chocolate covered strawberries for dessert. I love senior projects.

At dinner, we were that one loud table at the restaurant where everyone looks like they are having much more fun than everyone else, and probably are. Raucous and humorous stories, again, abounded. I learned more about their family’s upbringing in Alabama and Louisiana pre and post segregation and John and his brother’s modest but very substantial parts in helping to end segregation in their communities. In Bryan’s words: “It wasn’t about being an activist; it was about doing the right thing.” I found it absolutely fascinating, as a portion of my ancestors were Southern and I know practically nothing about them. It was definitely a window into a whole other world that part of me is from.

Got back late: 9:45. Skyped the fam for an hour and filled them in on my adventures and heard about theirs. Now here I am. Mural painting with Eric Ochoa tomorrow at the Society at 9:30am.

Buenas noches todos,

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One thought on “Whale Sharks, Chocolate Clams and Southern American History over Asian Feast: Baja Day 3

  1. Each day is more and more fascinating! You look very much in charge and relaxed in your casita. I hope others will get the chance to Skype with you while your in Todos Santos. Have a good day tomorrow teaching!

    d

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