Ambling is an art. Instead of rushing to experience every new sensation, ambling is the art of slowing down. The slower you go the more time, the more experiences and the fewer regrets you have. Until settling in Loreto, Baja California Sur, I never understood the value of ambling and the many ways in which time is measured.
In an amble down the Malecon waves break against the sea wall. Frigate birds soar and wheel. Like arrows from the sky, pelicans plunge. In formation Blue-footed Boobies plunge. Cormorants bob and dive. Sea Gulls squabble with Terns over a fresh caught fish. Red Sally Lightfoot crabs crawl on rocks in the breaking waves. Bait fish break the water in schools driven by an unseen predator.
The ripping of the Pacific Plate from the North American plate and the birth of the Baja Peninsula are captured in the fractured summits of volcanic cones and layers of lava arrested in mid flow. To the North the volcanic cone of Isla Carmen with its lava flows frozen in the sea looks like a floating sombrero. To the south the jagged peaks and ridges of the Sierra La Giganta step down into the sea. The tops of sunken ranges, like frolicking offspring of La Giganta, form the islands of Danzante, Monserat, and Santa Catalina. Together with Coronado and Carmen they lie protected inside the boundaries of the Loreto Bay National Marine Park.
The Sea of Cortez fills the rift created by the tectonic shift. Its azure waters belie the depth of its waters. A profusion of life found only in the Sea of Cortez lies just below its surface – Cortez angelfish, Cortez damselfish, Cortez rainbow wrasse, Cortez soapfish, Cortez chub, Cortez grunt, and Cortez round stingray. Some days dolphins break the surface just offshore. In winter and early spring patience may be rewarded with the sight of a blue, finback or humpback whale.
In the solar day the sun rises gold or vermillion on a glassy sea. Breezes and currents create patterns that turn silver in the strengthening light. As the sun approaches the top of its arc, the blue of the water appears to give its color to the sky. As the sun descends, twenty two mile long Isla Carmen creeps closer to the peninsula only to pop back into place with the setting sun. The edge of night forms a line in from the eastern sky foretelling in muted shades the colors which will, in time, become vivid in the western sky where the light of the setting sun, now gone behind the mountains, is reflected from the clouds above.
The lunar tug on the sea is evident along the beach where water meets sand. In the daily ebb and flow, the tide itself is a reflection of the twenty eight day waxing and waning cycle of the moon. With the incoming tide, those waves ahead, creep further up the sand. Unable to retreat because of the rising sea, they are pushed forward inch by inch. In the ebbing tide the edge of each wave lingers on the wet sand reluctant to leave but eventually pulled back to join the deeper sea.
In nighttime ambles planets are the first lights in the darkening sky – Venus’ pulsating brilliance, Jupiter’s amber glow, Mars’ faint red tint, Saturn’s elongated orb. The ball of a rising full moon projects a triangular shaft of golden light across the darkened sea. As the moon continues to rise, it echoes the daytime sun, turning the sea’s surface muted silver. In the new moon, the sidereal dome appears to slide overhead as the earth rotates below. Orion, a gaseous space cloud visible in its belt, pursues Taurus. The Big Dipper and Cassiopeia’s broken W rotate in the Northern sky. The spiral of our own Milky Way Galaxy stretches like a white stream across the sky.
Like any art, rambling requires devotion and practice. In Loreto I am just beginning to learn the art of time well spent ambling.
About the Author: Ed is just another retired Gringo loving the Baja.
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