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Thursday, December 15, 2011
Stay home no more!
Friday, January 27, 2012
Winter max fishing


Tranquilo winter
I pulled the hood of my sweatshirt a little more snuggly against my neck as the cool ocean breeze was starting to send a few chilly evening fingers down my back. As I walked down the old boulevard, I smiled at others also out for an evening stroll. Long pants. Hands stuffed in down jackets for warmth. Girls wearing furry boots. Guys covering their heads with watch-style pull down stretch hats to cover ears against the blustery night.

 

Everyone you pass has a nod and a smile all somewhat grinning about being so bundled up. It’s an inside local joke. In addition to my hoodie, I’m wearing thermals, my Levis and my hiking boots with actual socks! Quite a divergence from the flip-flops that adorn my feet the majority of the year. 

 

Despite all the sunny palm-tree travel posters and brochures, yes, Baja does get winter. And yes, it does get “cold.” For us in La Paz, that means down to about the mid-50’s at night.

 

Relatively speaking, that translates to about a “3-dog-night” up in Alaska where the frigid evenings are judged by how many dogs one must sleep with to keep warm. 

 

The few tourists, mostly snow-birds escaping places that really ARE cold like Canada, New York and Montana, continue to stroll in shorts and loud Hawaiian shirts and laugh to hear us talk about using drinking hot cocoa and “electric blankets” and staying in-doors at night because it’s too cold to go out!

 

For the visitors that normally come down to enjoy the warmer months, it’s sometimes a shock that the sun isn’t always out or that everyone isn’t down at the beach or out drinking margaritas on the terraza or fishing or how windy it can be!

 

I remember a few years back a guy wanted to build his dream boutique hotel on one of our beaches. He had been a visitor for many years enjoying the sun, sand, fishing and diving for many years of summers. He finally had all his papers in order. He purchased the beach-front land and got the work crew to break ground…in December! 

 

Revelation! The winds howled. Scaffolds blew over. Sand and concrete scattered.  Half-the-days, the work crew couldn’t work. The owner had never spent any winters in Baja! He thought it was 90 degrees and sunny year-round. No fishing. Very few tourists. After two months of futility, he packed it up.

 

But, it’s a nice time to be in Baja. It’s a time, many of our anglers and regulars don’t get to normally see since most fishermen visit the Baja from March to November.

 

Yes, it can be windy and (for us) chilly too! But, generally, the sun is out and there’s a certain tranquility that descends on each place from the desert to the beaches and from the smallest pueblo to even the larger tourist cities. There’s even a word for it “tranquilo.” (calm or quiet). And it’s a good way to describe it.

 

The sun light is different. It’s more subdued and the days are shorter although the days can be brilliant as a winter day. Beaches are relatively empty. So are the streets.

 

Don’t be surprised to find you have a store or restaurant all to yourself to enjoy the full attention of the staff. There just aren’t that many tourists around!

 

If you thought Mexican “manana” was a leisurely pace, try “manana” in the winter! There’s no urgency. There’s no “prisa” (hurry). Lo que sea! (Whatever!).

 

No one’s rushing around for office parties; setting up the electric Santa on the roof; cookie bakes; midnight sales; Christmas cards; parking lot crushes…”Calmate” (Take it easy) is the attitude. No stress. No underwear-bunching is allowed! You will never be late and there’s no such thing as a cocktail dress or an ugly Christmas sweater. Imagine that!

 

It can take some getting used to for folks that move down here.

 

Gringos get frustrated because we’re used to the frantic pace of Christmas and the holidays. Here, the “holidays” start about mid-November and go until after the feast of the Three Kings in January. So, no sense in getting frustrated. No one is real motivated to get much done so you just roll with it!

 

People sometimes don’t leave their homes. People don’t go to their offices. For about a month, government and municipal employees barely work or are on hiatus with diminished staffs (sounds like a lot of government offices, doesn’t it!).  So, if you need anything “official” done, forget it. 

 

If you need to rush or get something done RIGHT NOW…wait until February! 

 

It’s not a bad way to look at things no matter where you’re spending your holidays. 

 

Take it down a notch. Park your sled and give the elves and reindeer the day off. Whether you’re eating menudo or Aunt Mary’s cheese log with crackers, take the time to enjoy the moments. Savor your family and friends. Tomorrow can wait. Put it off until February like we do in Mexico!

 

Best to you and yours for many blessings now and in the coming year! And thanks too for reading my two-cents columns all year long too! Cheers!

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