Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stepping Out

Crossing the mountains in Northern Baja, Mexico

"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night."

    When I was in high school I had a Pee Chee folder on which I'd written in tiny letters many of my favorite quotes. This one was, not surprisingly, by Edgar Allen Poe. (A favorite with all angst-ridden teenaged girls, right?)  Peregrine and I were talking of day dreams, and this quote came to my mind. It is true; night dreams come and play and then they go. We watch them flutter away on the breeze. But day dreams, we have to own: to make them come true we must take hold of them and wrestle and work and not let them go. They heighten our awareness and chang the way we live, if we let them. 
    The last year or two of my life has been punctuated by a lot of going through our things, sorting, organizing, paring down. I've gotten rid of a lot, with the motivation not only to simplify life in this home, but also to move towards our dream of picking up and leaving, doing some traveling, settling down somewhere else along the way. "Picking up and leaving" sounds so simple, like something you aspire to one day and accomplish the next. But when you've spent years settling in, getting comfortable, making a home, it takes a whole lot of hard work to get to the point where you can actually leave. There's all this stuff, for one thing, and commitments, and a mortgage. You don't just cast all that off in a day.

    In between cooking and teaching and sorting and reading to kids and the thousand other things I do in a day, I'm reading a novel called Peace Like a River. A paragraph or two here, a chapter there, stolen moments. It's all at once humorous and haunting and the sort of story that carries you along and pulls you in and makes you hope and hurt and rejoice with its characters. I want to write like Leif Enger someday, in a way that makes people see what I'm seeing and feel what I feel, that awakens in them a yearning, that carries them to another place.

    "Cash was a difficulty, so he commenced to lay hold of unattached items around the house and sell them, doing so with an impish glee. His bedroom mirror went first, a useless piece of furniture given who owned it, and it brought three dollars, which turned into fifteen cans of pork and beans from the Red Owl. The beans went into the deep, mesmerizing pantry of the Airstream; a monstrous and comforting hole, you could stack food in there all morning. Dad next sold two pine dressers for five dollars each- he bought a case of Dinty Moore, two canned hams, some hash. He sold a creeper long used to get under the Plymouth and change the oil- one dollar, eight cans of chicken noodle. Each day familiar things went away from us; each day Dad, normally lackadaisical about commerce, tallied up the take and what food it might procure. Faith brought this about. Faith, as Dad saw it, had delivered unto us the Airstream trailer, and faith would direct our travels."        -Leif Enger, Peace Like a River

    I loved this paragraph; it's a pivotal point in the story where the tide has turned from one of paralysis to one of hope-filled action. Surely anyone who has pulled up stakes for a life of unknown adventure can relate to this. If I sell this or that it will be enough to live for three days in Mexico. I could spend this much money on going out for a meal here, or we could eat for days in India. It's a mental trading game, giving up something here and now, whether selling it or choosing not to buy it, for a thing we desire more. It's an intentional going against the current of a society that veritably screams at us to get what we want and get more of it and get it now. Of course the spiritual parallels here are huge as well.

    The time has come for me to start going through what's left, and there's still plenty of it. Those things that were hanging around until the last moment will be finding new homes soon. We have taken the step of putting our home on the market. We've spoken to a couple of realtors who've encouraged us that the market has turned around in our area and that this is a great time to sell. I know that it could still be a while, but we're taking what steps we can to be ready for action. Our spiritual father exhorted us to pray each step of the way and trust that God will guide. We can always look back and see how He has walked before us, and now we continue on, trusting that He leads the way.

    And so we take this next step, in faith. It's exciting, and sometimes a bit scary, like rappelling off the side of a cliff. You know perfectly well your rope is secure but, well, there's nothing natural about stepping backwards off a cliff. Why would you even want to do such a thing? Your body and mind have to wrestle a bit, mind telling body what to do, until that moment when you just step. This is much like the working out of a dream, faith and fear seeking to fill the same space. Why would we sell our home and give up a secure job in order to pursue a life that is largely unknown? There are many reasons, but I won't get into them at the moment. We're getting closer to stepping off the cliff, and I know we are held firmly in strong hands that will not let us go.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

San Miguel: A Sense of Place

The kids spent many happy hours running and playing in the gardens around Su Casa.

   I'm finally finishing up posting pictures of the trip we took in January/February of this year. After a whirlwind of visiting friends and family in California and Arizona, we traveled to a very special house known to us as Su Casa. It was built by my grandparents in the mid-80s as a gift to their family. (The family does rent it out to help offset the cost of maintenance, so if you're looking for a lovely, quiet vacation home in the Ensenada, Mexico area you can check it out here.) It's on a hillside over looking the Pacific Ocean on the Baja Peninsula. I spent many happy days here as a child and teen, playing, exploring, visiting my cousins who live down the hill where my great grandparents settled in their later years. My last visit here was twenty years ago, right after I graduated from high school. Many things have changed in those years, but this place retains the love and the magic poured into by my Grams and Gramps. I'm was so happy to be sharing it with Erik and my own children.

     It was strange to come back after so many years. I had gone full circle, from being the child coming with my parents, to bringing my own children here. Returning stirred something in me, something I didn't expect. My family moved around a lot, from British Columbia to Alberta, to California, and then to Oregon, and in some of those places we lived in several different homes. "Home" to me has always been people, not a place. Home is where my family is, and that has always been fine with me. But returning there, to San Miguel by the Sea, a place where my family has deep roots, has made me think about the importance of Place.

The large succulent plants were blooming in the garden and surrounding hillside.

This one was so amazing, sending up a huge stalk of flowers that bent over, creating an arch.
It's the edge of the desert, but tropical flowers bloom here too!   

 If there is any patch of earth I can stand on in this world and trace a significant portion of family history, this would be it. It reaches far beyond my own memories of being here as a child. My great grandparents spent their latter years here, building a home and leaving a legacy that continues still. Family still occupies that home, and we were welcomed there, just as we've been for as long as I remember. I didn't anticipate how meaningful it would be for me to share this place with Erik and my children. The first day we were there we walked up to the cemetery and I shed unexpected tears standing at the graves of my uncle, cousin, and great grandparents. This home, and the one down the hill, are full of stories, both written down and remembered, of grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts, great grandparents, adventurers, pioneers, friends and neighbors. While at Su Casa, Erik and I spent some time reading about my family's history in the area. (One wonderful adventure is here.) Reading their stories inspires me, it challenges me to live my own adventure. It makes me wish I had known them all, had been able to join them on camping trips in the mountains of Mexico. My Gramps left a wonderful written record of many of his adventures here and there are a number of short stories of adventures in Baja here.
Su Casa from above.
Pots in the garden, little bits of culture and history, all tell a story.
     If I had more than one lifetime, I would want to use one to sink deeper roots in this area, to settle in and explore Baja, retracing some of the grand adventures of those who have gone before me. Instead, we are preparing to embark on following our own dream, and I don't yet know quite where it will take us. That is the beauty though, of the legacy I've been given, to live my own life, follow my own dream, to create memories for my own children. I will continue to write about them and weave our story into the tapestry of our greater family. I want to give my children a deep sense of connection to family, to their history, to their roots, but I also want to give them wings. I trust that someday we will spend more time in Baja, and I hope they come to love it as I do.  
The kids had so much fun running and playing, exploring and connecting to a place that is part of their heritage as well. 
    Thank you Grams and Gramps, for this very special place. Thank you to all who have kept alive the memories and the stories of our family. Thank you to all who have made Su Casa the special and magical place that it is! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Christ is Risen!
Truly He is Risen!

It is the day of Resurrection! O people, let us glory in splendor! Pascha, the Lord's Pascha! For Christ our God has transported us who sing the triumphal hymn from death to life, and from earth to Heaven.

Today we celebrate Pascha, the feast of feasts. In the Orthodox Church we use the Greek word for Passover, from the Hebrew Pesach, and thus our celebration of the Resurrection is called Pascha. It is truly the high point of the year for us, one of much joy and celebration. 

Just before midnight, we wait with quiet and joyful anticipation. The church is dark, like a tomb. And then a single light is held high, and our priest chants "Come, receive the light, from the light that is never overtaken, and glorify Christ, who is risen from the dead." We all take up the cry and the light is passed to each of us until we are bathed its radiance. 
As we receive the light, we take our candles and continue singing as we walk outside the church building. There we listen to the gospel reading about the women coming early to the tomb, only to find that Christ was risen.
We all sing joyfully and with triumph the Paschal hymn:
"Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down death, and upon those in the tombs He has given life!"
I sit on a planter and hold my sweet tired Raphael. Erik held Pearl while taking pictures, and Peregrine joined the group of chanters. After we sing and pray outside everyone returns to the church for the Paschal liturgy, and then enjoy a meal together. With our children being young, we usually leave when everyone goes inside. This year we brought our Paschal light home and lit an oil lamp with it. We hope to keep it burning continually for the 40 days of the Paschal season, until we celebrate Christ's Ascension. 
My kids didn't get the memo that when you go to church in the middle of the night, you get to sleep in! We had a lovely festal breakfast before heading back to church around noon. 
We join with our parish family for the Agape Vespers. The Great Commission is read in several languages, signifying that the Good News is truly for all people. Father Jerry read this also, for the benefit of those of us who didn't stay to hear it early this morning. I was so glad, as it is beautiful, and it's read in all Orthodox churches on Pascha. I love that Orthodox Christians the world over are celebrating in the same way, attending the same services, reading the same portions of Scripture. It gives a great sense that we are one body. 
The church is beautiful in its Paschal splendor. The bay leaves release their fragrance beneath our feet and mingle with the scents of beeswax and incense, while flowers add their loveliness to this feast. The cross is empty, and so is the tomb. Christ is Risen!
The Resurrection banner.
The icon of the resurrection is not simply a picture of an empty tomb or of the Risen Christ; it is theology in color.  This is Christ, who has opened the gates of paradise through His death, pulling Adam and Eve from Hades. For a wonderful explanation of this icon, you can click here
We were blessed with a beautiful day. Unfortunately we didn't get any great pics of the kids, who for once looked clean and not too much like little ragamuffins. Alas, trying to get them all to sit reasonably still and look pleasant is too much to ask after a night with not enough sleep, a day with too much sugar, and a general feeling of excitement and festivity in the air! 

Blowing bubbles with my sweet little Brigid.
"It is the day of Resurrection! Let us shine forth in splendor for the Festival, and embrace one another. Let us say, "Oh brethren, even to those who do not love us; let us forgive all things in the Resurrection, and thus, let us exclaim: 'Christ is Risen from the dead, by death trampling down death, and upon those in the tombs He has given life!' "

For the next forty days we will sing the joyful hymns of Pascha and greet one another with "Christ is Risen!" It has truly been a glorious day of  joy and celebration. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Holy Week

   We have come to the end of Holy Week in the Orthodox Church, a week full of beauty and depth. It's also full of a lot of church services, some of them long. I admit when I first was learning about Orthodoxy, I thought is was overkill; I mean, really, going to church every day, sometimes more than once, for a week? Over the years though, I have come to see each service as a beautiful gift to us, an invitation to enter into those last days of our Lord's earthly life before His crucifixion. We don't even attempt to make it to every service that is offered, but my heart is changed and I find myself wanting to be there. From the raising of Lazarus the day before Palm Sunday, we are taken on a journey through the actions and teachings of Jesus. It is intense and sobering and lovely, every bit of it.

On Saturday we celebrated the raising of Lazarus as a promise of our own resurrection.
Sunday we remembered our Lord's Entry Into Jerusalem and prepared ourselves to walk
through the last days as He went willingly to His crucifixion .

Father Jerry gave us each a cross made of palm leaves.
In colder climates, pussy willow branches are used instead.
On Monday night we attended the Bridegroom Service. Though this service is held on three consecutive nights, we only try to make it to one. We hear the parables and stories told by Jesus in those last days, many with a theme of watchfulness.  We are exhorted to be like the wise virgins, ready to meet our Bridegroom. 
On Wednesday evening there is the service of Holy Unction, where we pray for God's healing in every area of our lives. We read many scriptures about healing, and are anointed with oil and prayers for the healing of both soul and body.

On Thursday morning there is a special liturgy commemorating the Passover Meal when Jesus instituted the new covenant with His people. In the Orthodox Church this is usually called the Mystical Supper. Afterwards our priest kneels and washes the feet of a dozen people, symbolic of the twelve disciples, and a powerful reminder of how Jesus instructed those who are to be our leaders to serve us, and also how we are to serve one another in love.

On Thursday evening is a very long and beautiful service called the Twelve Gospels. in which we hear twelve different gospel readings narrating the hours following the Mystical Supper and through the death of Christ. (Like in Judaism, the Orthodox Day begins at sundown the previous evening, which is why we remember the crucifixion Thursday night.) After the fifth reading a large icon of Christ on the cross is carried through the church. Having these visual reminders is very powerful. Icons are sometimes called "theology in color" and it is said that they are "written", not painted. In times past, when many people were illiterate, icons made the gospel accessible to all people. When the cross is brought out, a beautiful hymn is solemnly chanted:

Today is suspended on a tree He who suspended the earth upon the waters.

The King of the angels is decked with a crown of thorns.
He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery.
He who freed Adam in the Jordan is slapped on the face.
The Bridegroom of the Church is affixed to the Cross with nails.

After each gospel is read, a candle is lit. I love how all of our senses are involved in worship.
My mom and dad kindly watched our two little ones on this evening, and it was such a blessing to be able to really focus and pay attention. It gave me great hope that in a few more years, being in church will be a lot easier! We keep our children with us, which I'm so glad for, but it's not always easy!

On Friday, we hear of Joseph of Aremethea and the faithful friends and followers of Christ taking His body down from the cross. The priest takes the icon down and all the children gather round to help wrap it in a large white sheet. We do, of course, believe that Christ died once and for all, but these actions and visuals are a powerful way of helping us, children and adults alike, enter into these events. Icons are intentionally not "realistic" because they are designed to portray spiritual realities, not merely physical ones.

This icon of Jesus' Mother, his friends and followers removing His body from the cross always moves me. When I see the man using a tool to pull out the nail holding his foot, it strikes me how real, how raw, it was.
Image from
Earlier on Friday the children also help to decorate the "tomb" with flowers.   On Friday evening we gather for a solemn service of Lamentations. The older girls wear white and throw rose petals on the tomb, representing the Myrhh Bearing women who came to anoint His body for burial. Father Jerry also sprinkles fragrant rosewater not only on the tomb, but on all of us. The feel of this service, while mournful, is also full of hope and watchful expectancy. Already we begin to hear of Christ's coming victory. Unlike the Apostles, we are not in despair. We know that the tomb is not a place of death, but that Christ keeps and fulfills the Sabbath with His body, while also plundering Hades and preparing the "Eighth Day", the New Sabbath in which death is defeated and we can cease from our works and enter into paradise.

The "tomb" is carried outside and we all follow, holding candles and singing (and trying to keep track of all the kids!) This is typical of a traditional funeral procession in eastern countries. As we re-enter the church building, the tomb is held high and we all walk under it. This is symbolic, showing that through our Lord's death we have passed from death to life. Like the Israelites passing through the Red Sea, we have been rescued from the bondage of our sins and given new life through Christ, who is our Passover.
Saturday morning is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful services of the year.  We hear readings from the Old Testament that foretell our salvation - creation, the crossing through the Red Sea, Jonah, and the three holy youths in the fiery furnace. While we are still singing of and remembering the burial of our Lord, we know that death cannot hold him, and there is a tone of joyful expectancy. My favorite moment is when the priest walks through the church throwing bay leaves in the air, an ancient symbol of victory. The children (and adults) ring bells and we all sing "Arise, o God, and judge the earth, for You will take all nations for Your inheritance" in between pleas for God to rescue the poor and needy and the orphan. I am always moved to tears, joy mingled with a deep yearning for wrongs to be righted both in this world and in my own heart. The fragrance of bay leaves fills the air as we finish the liturgy. There is often a baptism Saturday afternoon as well. Lent was traditionally a time for catechumens to prepare for baptism and it's customary for them to be baptized on this day. 

    And now, we wait. It is a day of bright sadness, of joyful anticipation. We have walked through these days, somehow been given the grace to be present at more services than I think we are capable of. There is something powerful about observing these events and worshipping in community. The kids have left church a couple of times chanting "we love church" on the way home. (Granted, there has also been some protesting and a meltdown or two!)  I found myself once again awed by the beauty, the intensity, of this week. At one point I thought to myself "I hope I don't die this year; I would be so sad to not go through Holy Week again". Of course, we believe our worship on earth is only a shadow of what is happening in heaven, so I know I really wouldn't miss it. This week, somehow, the veil between earth and heaven seems thinner, and we taste a bit of the beauty of unceasing praise, the grace of being more focused on things above, on our Lord Jesus. 
    Clothing is ironed and hung up, desserts are baked for tomorrow's potluck. Candles are ready to take to church for the midnight Pascha service. The children are about to be bathed and fed and settled down. There is excitement in the air, and although its rarely quiet in my home, there is a quietness in my heart as we watch and wait to sing "Christ is Risen" and to celebrate His glorious resurrection! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Bridegroom Service

Christ the Bridegroom
(Image from

      I wrote this five years ago, during what was our first Holy Week in the Orthodox Church. Our journey to Orthodoxy was a very personal one, full of many struggles, and difficult at times. I've not shared a lot about it here; at times it was too close, too raw, to put out in a public space. It seems that many people who become Orthodox "jump in with both feet" but I've not been one of them. I've waded in slowly, testing, considering, struggling, and praying as I've been faced with things that are new (to me) and different. I'm thankful that I've been allowed, and even encouraged, to go at my own pace, not pressured at any time to be or do something that I was not ready for. Last night we again attended the Bridegroom Service, this time with four kids in two, and I was reminded of this experience. I realize that for my many friends and family who are Protestant Christians, some of this will seem weird and even offensive. I get that. I really do. 

    Once again we are journeying with Christ through this week, through to the wonderful celebration of Pascha, our Passover, the Resurrection. It is my favorite week of the year, the time where I feel the most in tune with who I truly am, with where my focus should lie. It is intense and tiring and inexpressibly beautiful. It was going through Holy Week and Pascha the year I wrote this that confirmed for me that the Orthodox Church was where I belonged. 

It is the evening of Holy Monday, and the Bridegroom Service is soon to begin. It's been two years since my husband Erik and I began the journey that would lead us to the Orthodox Church, and only two months since we became catechumens. This is our first Holy Week. We feel as if we are stepping into something so much bigger than ourselves, something ancient, and sacred. We feel a bit as we have when traveling in foreign lands; there is so much that is new, different, and sometimes uncomfortable. 

Tonight, for once, we arrive early. We make our way through the dimly lit narthex, past flickering candles, and into the nave. There we settle ourselves and our two children into our usual spot nearest the back. We each take charge of one child. Tonight I take Peregrine, our active four-and-a-half year old boy, and Erik gets Alethea, our two year old daughter. If we were at home if would be time to get pajamas on and start winding down for the night, and we're a little unsure of what to expect of them at this hour. 

The service begins. They are busy, these little ones of ours, and it seems their ability to sit quietly at home never seems to make it to Church with us. Peregrine, tonight, is particularly active. He starts out well, standing up on the chair next to me and singing "Lord, have mercy" in a rather loud voice. Before I know it though, he's flopped himself on the floor and is beginning to wriggle beneath the chairs. I quickly hand him a pen and some paper in an attempt to settle him. I stand again, trying to focus on the prayers, the Scripture, the words that have been spoken and prayed by the Church for centuries. My mind wanders to the words in the Liturgy that instruct us to "lay aside all earthly cares". I often ponder this; as a stay-at-home mama my life is wrapped up in my children, and I'm tempted at times to think of them as "earthly cares". But they aren't really; they are souls who have been entrusted to us to care for on this earth and to guide towards heaven. I'm privileged to have them next to me.

My thoughts are pulled back to the present by a loud noise at my side. I look down to see Peregrine thrusting the point of his pen into the notebook over and over, making dots. I sit down and whisper that he should make dots quietly. I stand and try to refocus, but before I know it the dot-maker is at it again. I sit down and have him lay his head in my lap.That works, for all of about twenty seconds. And then he is rolling onto the floor, beneath the chairs again. I pray silently for patience and move on to my next tactic. This time I'll take the sketch pad and draw a picture for him. This keeps him quiet and happy for some time as I draw a castle with turrets, a drawbridge, and a moat. A dragon flies overhead, and a flag flies from one of the towers. In spite of my lack of artistic talent, he's thrilled. Alethea starts crying and Erik takes her out. We give each other that look, the one that says "Is this worth it? Why didn't we just stay home?" 

And so it goes. Peregrine soon tires of the castle and gets squirmy again. I feel like I'm in a battle with my son. It certainly feels like it would be better to be home home enjoying a peaceful evening, than here at Church, trying to worship and fighting instead. I've given up trying to pay attention and participate in the service. I hear a few phrases, the story of the foolish virgins, prayers that we might be wise and watchful, confessions that we have no wedding garment, pleas for mercy. Instead of quieting my heart, I allow anger toward Peregrine to rise within me. Why can't I just make him obey? Why won't he sit still for a few moments? I see my heart in it's wretchedness, and yet I continue on. He lays his head in my lap again and starts flapping a hand in my face. I ask him to stop and the hand moves to my neck. I tell him not to touch my neck and again the little hand reaches up. I grab it, stand up, and march him out, and down the hallway. I am angry and frustrated. 

He apologizes and I forgive him. And then I have to ask his forgiveness too, for letting myself get angry. I should have brought him out long ago, walked together a little, given him a break. I should have been compassionate, understanding that he is a small, tired child and being still and quiet isn't in his nature. He is quick to forgive and wraps his little arms around my neck. I hold him and our mutual anger and frustration melt away. We talk for a moment, and pray together. We walk back into the nave, hand in hand again, but this time as comrades and not as foes. Once again we take our place at the back, just as the service is coming to a close. At least we finish in peace. 

      People begin to line up to venerate the icon* of the Bridegroom and Peregrine asks if we can go up too. I say yes, not wanting to quench his desire to participate. We make our way to the end of the line, Peregrine eagerly, and I with much hesitation. I'm not ready to venerate icons. Mentally, I find no fault in it, but so far I haven't brought myself to do it. Making the sign of the cross feels weird enough, but kissing an icon? And in front of everyone? 

We take a few steps forward. I glance up front, trying to see "how it's done." If I must do it, I want to get it right. As if I'm being graded or something. We move forward. Alethea sees me and I stretch out my hand to hers; she doesn't want to be left behind. Peregrine stands behind me, hand in mine. He wants me to go first. And I don't want to go at all, but there's no turning back now. We approach the front and my mind and heart are in turmoil. What is holding me back? Is it merely discomfort? Or is it pride? 

It is our turn to step up to the first icon, the one of the Christ Child in His mother's arms. Peregrine slips out from behind me, deciding he wants to go first after all. I am relieved; relieved to be following my child and not leading him. He approaches the icon eagerly, crosses himself, and stands up on his toes, but he's still not quite tall enough. He looks at me and I step forward, Alethea on one hip, and lift him with my free arm. He kisses the icon of Jesus and steps away, toward the Bridegroom. Alethea wants to kiss "Jesus and a Mommy" too, and I hold her close. She's serious about this, and gives them a nice long kiss. She's not showing any signs of stopping, and I give a little nervous laugh and pull her off. We approach the icon of the Bridegroom, and I take her little hand and make a cross with her. She kisses Him, and then I know my moment has come. I look at Him, His sad but loving eyes. How can I, the unworthy, approach Him? He, who is slow to anger and abounding in mercy, and I, who have spent a good part of the evening angry at my precious child? I have no other response, and so I bend down and kiss Him.

Any thoughts or reflections that may follow are interrupted all too soon. Alethea has slipped out of my arms and ducked in between the two ends of the purple cloth hanging down from icon stand. I reach down and scoop her up before she pulls the whole thing down; she giggles and says "hiding, hiding." I glance over and see that Peregrine finished venerating the third icon and has settled himself comfortably into the chair reserved for the bishop. I break out in more nervous laughter. Peregrine sees me and thinks he must be doing something terribly clever. He bursts out laughing too. I go, and with my free hand help him down. We walk out together, Alethea on my hip and Peregrine next to me. We are all smiling.

The evening has not been what I had hoped, but something good came from it in spite of us, in spite of me. Something that wouldn't have happened if we were at home with the children tucked nicely into bed at eight o'clock. And I think it may have been worth coming after all. 

    *Here is a good explanation of the use of icons in the Orthodox Church, as well as why we would do a seemingly crazy thing like kiss them! 

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

La Bufadora

    When I was a child visiting our family in San Miguel, Baja, Mexico, we would make the drive south through Ensenada, past farms and little ranches, and out the narrow Punta Banda Peninsula to La Bufadora. La Bufadora is one of the largest natural marine geysers, and it really is spectacular. From Wikipedia: "The spout of sea water is the result of air, trapped in a sea cave, exploding upwards. Air is forced into the cave by wave action and is released when the water recedes. This interaction not only creates the spout, but a thunderous noise as well. The phenomena repeats every minute or so with its volume depending on the strength of the waves. " The geyser can shoot over 100 feet in the air! 
    When I was a kid, there was little there other than the blowhole; a few little curio stands and someone selling churros. I was surprised by the seemingly endless gauntlet of "cheap junk shops" and pharmacies we had to walk through to get from the parking lot to the blowhole. We bought some churros on the way down, because in my memory that's just what you do when you visit La Bufadora! It was a wonderful afternoon in Mexico!

The water churning beneath the overlook.

We timed our visit for high tide and were not disappointed in the force of the geyser!
I really didn't know if the kids would be very interested or not, but they loved it.
They watched and waited and laughed with delight, dancing in the spray!
This safe wall is new since I was a kid!
Churros - my rule of thumb is always ask them to make some fresh!
Watching and waiting for them to be rolled in cinnamon sugar.
Peregrine checking out a taco stand. It proved to be a good one!
My favorite quote of the day was from him, as we were walking past
yet another shop selling junky souvenirs. He said confidently, "Just
let me take care of the street vendors!" He does have a lot of practice saying no!
A slightly damp Poppy!
Erik thought this was pretty funny.
You can't see Raphael laying on the wall, but that's me
holding on to him with the Mama Bear Grip.
Peregrine and Poppy loved it!
Sun getting low over the bay beyond.