We’re happy to report that Beach Fest weekend went well for all concerned – those who were in Rosarito Beach and those of us who were not.
By the time we were back on Monday, most of the remnants of the Fest had been trucked away and by Tuesday morning the beach was calm, clean and ready for the local crowd.
Molly’s personal accomplishment for the weekend was successfully navigating the Cuota, the freeway from Rosarito Beach to the border in Tijuana, her first time, and home from San Diego again. She also was able to have a friendly conversation with the U.S. Customs officer who wondered about her loaded car carrying items for the storage locker. If there’s any question, a driver can be sent to Secondary which is not quite like Coventry, but certainly intimidating.
Her paintings caught the officer’s eye, and then her little N gauge railroad was a source for conversation. (Every guy loves trains!) Then he smiled, handed back our passports, and everyone was happy.
Going either direction across the border these days can be fraught. The whole immigration situation has everyone on edge – sometimes a small edge and sometimes more. Most of the Customs folks are businesslike but friendly, while others become officious and unnecessarily stern, ordering even the most ordinary travelers around to show who’s boss. We’ve run into both kinds. Residents who’ve chosen to live inland away from the border have other problems from time to time, but interacting with Customs as often as folks in Rosarito is not one of them.
We’ve just learned this week that the Mexican government is responding in kind with new activity at the many checkpoints along the highways. They’re mostly on the lookout for illegal migrants coming from the south, but they’re also clamping down on ex-pats who’ve never legally entered Mexico. There are apparently thousands and there’s a kind of pride among them. The advice now is to have your papers with you at all times in case of a random stop at an equally random checkpoint.
Late August has turned out to be a pleasant time for us as the beach has been given back mostly to the locals and their families. There are still the occasional fireworks at night, and the local bands – with tubas and rat-a-tat drums – play on weekends. There are still tourists wandering the markets and sipping margaritas, but the air is lighter and the crush of commerce has passed for the season. We still have Labor Day weekend ahead with plenty of Americanos headed south, but we can handle that.
Cooler weather has come in the mornings even in sunny Rosarito Beach (which has not been all that sunny all the time). I’m already putting away my shorts and summer tops and zapatos and actually broke out one of my turtlenecks one chilly morning. Summer is not entirely over, of course, and by noon, I was back in my skimpier clothes.
The markets like the one pictured above are open rain or shine, warm or chilly. This one is part of a maze of vendor stalls behind the street stalls on Benito Juarez and is more like a colorful catacomb although not literally underground. Treasures can be found around every twist and turn, including lots of Talavera pottery. I particularly love these beautiful vases for their shape, color, and designs.
Color, of course, is everywhere here. This hacienda is a block from our place, and we walk past it almost every day. The elderly Mexican woman who lives here has taken to putting up signs for one thing or another – parking, camping, or like this one to greet cochinitos (affectionate slang for piglets) visiting the beach and ask that they not leave their trash thrown around.
The day I snapped this, I was not as interested in the sign or even the lovely red bougainvillea as I was the apparently dead branches of the tree over the roof. The landscapers who cleared her property earlier this year left those branches and I’ve wondered more than once about them. But on this day, I knew why they were there. They were not dead, they were leafing out as if to say, “Don’t give up on me yet.”
Lessons are everywhere. The woman who lives here can barely walk the block from her house to Benito. But she has a bright smile and fashionably short hair. Perhaps when she sees those newly leafed branches she agrees with writer Don Marquis’ wonderful creation Mehitabel the Cat who once announced to the world: “There’s a dance in the old dame yet.”
Not all of us are ready for pickleball and book groups. Let the music begin!
From Rosarito Beach adios, amigos,
Michael and Molly