Saturday, May 31, 2008

Baja (Mexico) roads.

Roads in Baja, Mexico. Near Punta San Jacinto

Friday, May 30, 2008

Guantanamera in the streets of Ensenada, Mexico

Street musicians singing "Guantanamera" in by a taco stand in Ensenada, Mexico

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We are back in the US!

We arrived to the hostel in San Diego around 9 pm on Tuesday night. We had a great spaghetti dinner and we got ready for bed. We are all FINE but TIRED!  See you soon!

Monday, May 26, 2008

We are fine and HAVING FUN!!!!

Sorry for the lack of posts and updates but we are in Bahia de Los
Angeles since Friday and internet access has been extremely difficult
to find.

We are all fine and happy and having tons of fun. Hopefully updates soon.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Visiting the sea turtles facility (pictures)

Visiting the sea turtles facility

At around 5 pm on Saturday afternoon we visiting the place where they do
sea turtle research. This was started by scientist and researcher
Antonio "Toño" Resendiz (*) which happens to be the owner of Camp
Archelon (where we are staying). He gaves us a brief history of the
place and the research projects on turtles that he had done.

(*) Antonio Resendiz, a Mexican conservationalist, used to tend the sea
turtle facility on north of town (Bahia de Los Angeles). Volunteers
helped Resendiz care for several endangered species of sea turtles.
Though visits are usually planned though organization in the US,
enthusiast might inquire locally for a change to see the facility (from
"Sea Kayaking in Baja" book)

The teachers by the beach (Bahia de Los Angeles)

Views from the top of the lighthouse at Punta Arena (Bahia de Los Angeles) (pictures)

Exploring the surroundings of camp Archelon: Lighthouse (pictures)

Exploring the surroundings of camp Archelon: Lighthouse

In the afternoon the other group when kayaking with Teo (one of the
instructors) while Jeannie, I and four students (Storm, Zoe, Ina, Liza
and Clare) went for a nice hike to Punta Arena, a little south of our
camp Archelon (where we were staying). We walked all the way to the
lighthouse. It seemed abandoned but people from town told us it was
working (we were able to confirm that at night when we saw it working).
There was a brick wall all around it. We climbed it and then went
insight the lighthouse. A set of ladders took us all the way up. We had
a great view from the top. We could see the whole bay, the town, the
mountains and the islands. On our way to the lighthouse and back to camp
we gathered all sorts of interesting and beautiful shells, snails and
treasures that the ocean brought to the shore for us.

Kayaking on Saturday morning

We had breakfast. After breakfast Roger divided us in two groups: one for kayaking and another one for snorkeling. Even though I was hoping to do snorkeling fate put me in the kayak group. I was on a tandem kayak with Jovan and that was an interesting challenge. The problem was that my weight is more than double of Jovan’s. There was a little bit of wind but it kept blowing Jovan and not me. When we went out Jovan was in the front and shore was on our left side. The wind was blowing towards the shore therefore the front of the kayak was also going towards the shore and not towards the sea. We struggled a little but we kept going. We finally decided to switch places so that the front of the kayak would point towards the sea. But at that time the wind started to pick up and Roger decided that it was not safe to go to one the closest island as we had originally planned. Then we turned back. Coming back was a little easier since we have the wind on our backs.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thursday afternoon and last night in Punta San Jacinto

We had some yummy tostadas. We are really getting spoiled with all the good food that Miriam prepares for us.
After lunch we all have some quiet time alone. It was great to reflect about how things are going in our trip, reflect about the amazing place where we are, read or just relax.

Later in the afternoon the activities were a little more diversed and we separated in different groups. A few students went back to the water and now we can really see the fruits of their tenacity and effort. Some of them are able to stand on their board already. I joined 3 students to a falt site outside of the camp grounds to fly a kite. It was one of those big kites that you can maneuver and make it turn and such. I must say that I failed in the task of making it turn but the whole experience of flying it or watching the others playing with it was a lot of fun! When we came back I took a few pictures of the site and a group of students who were sculpting a mermaid as part of their presentation for the talent show at night.

We had spaghetti and meat balls for dinner... mmmm... I am still licking my fingers.

After dinner we had a talent show around the campfire. Each students (or group of students) had the task to think about our surrounding and come up with a presentation and share it all so us. It was a great display of talent and Joe, Vicki and Santi (the three kids in our group that are not part of the 8th grade class were the judges. They even imitated the judges of American Idol. It was lot of fun. Some of the numbers were: A song from the play "Secret Garden", a short story abot the mermaid, jugling billard balls in the dark, some attempts to improv comedy, a picture with painted rocks with "surf" as a theme, a sketch draing of a surfer, reading the lyrics of the 8th graduation song (music yet to be composed), and more.

It was a fun night but also we were all tired and ready to go to bed early... well... kind of early. We are leaving to Bahia de Los Angeles tomorrow morning. Our goal is to be there before it's dark so we need to leave our site by or before 9 am. Will be able to do it? We'll see.

I probably won't have internet access over there. I'll just go back to the archaic pen and notebook and type on my blog when we are back to civilization :-)


Before closing my last post from Punta San Jacinto I went to the shore for one last time. It is very dark. It's a little cloudy so you can't see many stars. But you can hear and see the waves and feel the power of the sea talking to you. During some of the talks that Roger gave we learn that waves are formed by a comples interaction of the sun, moon, wind, the bottom of the ocean and of course the water. Being alone in the dark but feeling the presence of the waves in front of me made me realize how small we are in this "place" (universe, beach, live, country, ocean, etc.). But it also made me feel vibrant, full of energy and at peace. I always say that I am a very urban person, I love to live in a city but how amazing is to find this energy and peace in this remote wild places.

I'll close the laptop now and walk back to my tent (did I mention that I have a whole tent just to myself? and that I even have a cot to sleep in?). I am not sure what my dreams will bring tonight but I know that they will be filled with so much inspiration that I have collected these days.

Making wind-chimes with snails and shells (5/22)

Trivia competition after lunch (5/22)

Quiet time after lunch (5/22)

Josh flying a kite (5/22)

Sculpting a mermaid for the talent show (5/22)

The mermaid

Searching for stuff on the coast (5/22)

Learning about our finding (5/22)

The surfers (5/22)

The grounds

Skit in Spanish at orphanage (5/21)

Joe finds a fish on the coast (5/22)

Camp site in Punta San Jacinto

Surfing (5/22)

And the days go by (in Baja)

We are having a great time and this place is so awesome that it would really not be very wise to spend too much time at the computer. I do that at home!

But in the interest of sharing some experience I will just write some bullet points of some of the highlighst of our days without much description. I might come back later and try to expand.

Tuesday night: We had a great dinner cook by the one of the families (Santiag -instructor-, his wife Miriam and two children Santi and Victria). It was a delicious lasagna and salad. We ended the day with a nice singing and storytelling time by the campfire.

Wednesday: More surfing in the morning for the brave ones. I actually had a pretty bad night. My chest and arms were really sore from all the effort and tension during my time in the ocean the previous day. So I just took a nap :-). Before and after lunch we practice the skit in Spanish "La Cenicienta". At 2 pm we visited an orphanage. Again we had some circle songs and games, then the students presented the skit and we ended up our visit by sharing beeswax and help them model. Mike, one of the drivers, was very kind and generous again and bouth ice-cream for everyone! Dinner was great again. We are really enjoying good food: grilled hot dogs and rice! Yum! We went to bed just a little earlier this time. Our bodies are a little tired from all the activity and excitment from the day. Well, in all truth, I guess I should say that "I" am started to get tired, hahahaha. The kids are all full of energy and having a great time!

Thursday: We had an early morning and we went on a nature hunt before breakfast. All the kids had 30 minutes to look around the coast and collect a few things that they haven't seen before or that were attractive or rare for them. They also had to throw at least one rock and hit the ship. When they came back we displayed our findings and we had our own "science musem". Roger and his crew talk about a few things we found. Then we had breakfast and after that more surf training on the ground and then most of the kids hit the water. It was very exciting to see some of them already trying to stand on the boards. And a couple even made some very good attempts at surfing.

Oh, but now it's lunch time... and it smell so good.. so I better go and check it out!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pictures from Baja: Service project


Pictures from Baja: Surf training


Pictures from Baja: Ensenada


Picures from Baja: Tijuana

Second day at Baja

The second day in Baja seemed to go faster than the first one. At least for me.
It seems that a clear theme has emerged for this trip: "let's go with the flow"
After the surf lesson on the ground we had plenty of time to chill down until it was time for lunch. We are still adjusting to the rhythm of the place and learning effective ways to live together and take care of this beautiful site. Water and energy are the main issues. Obviously there it no running water and electricity is provided by batteries that are charged from solar panels. The crew brought plenty of big water bottles that's good for drinking. And the sink have several water tanks to use for washing dishes and showering. That's why it is very important to conserve both water and electricity.
After lunch we took the vans and drove about 20-30 minutes to a close by town to meet some children. Karen, the main organizer of this trip, had a couple of connection with orphanages in the area. But communication with them have been somehow difficult. So we ended up in one of the orphanages just to find out that we were supposed to be there on Wednesday. One our way there an old lady waved at us very vigorously, something that we took as a sign of kindness from one of them locals. But in fact she ended up being our connection to our other destination. We followed her for a couple of miles to the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood. There we met a group of children, and a few adults, at local church (or temple). We were not very clear on what was suppose to happen or what to do there but we went with the flow. I started out with some circle games and songs for us to mingle with the local children. After then they got divided into age groups and they went to their respective lessons. I learned from of of the kids that these were bible lessons and they met one a week, usually on Mondays but this week they changed it to Tuesday to meet us. Out 8th graders helped around in anyway they could: holding signs for the teachers, serving milk to the children, distributing presents, etc. The afternoon ending up wit the olders kids from the church, some teacher and the boys from CLWS playing soccer.
On our way back to or site Mike, one of the drivers, bought ice-cream for all of us! What a treat!
Back at camp we discover that the tide was a little high and conditions were not the bes for surfing. But still there was a group of children (and Jeanie and I) who have not been to the water yet.
I must confess that after just doing the challenging surf training on the ground I was pretty discouraged to try them out on the sea. I could barely do them on the ground! Surfing is a combination of many skills but balance and power (strength + speed) are two of the most important ones. I was able to start having a sense of balance with the exercises on the ground. Quiet poor balance but some sense of it nontheless. When it came to strength the whole force of my 34 years, my 230 lbs and lack of exercise combined showed me that I was up for a hard task. I persisted in trying the exercises on the ground but in my mind I had already decided that on this trip I was going to enjoy surfing from the expectator role. But when we came back from playing with the children at the church I had a little more energy and a different mindset. I always get re-charged with I work or play with children. (That's why I love being a teacher!) So I decided to join the group of students that wanted to go in the water. I put on my wet suit and took a couple of pictures for this rare occasion. I was glad that Jeanie decided to join us, too.
Roger, the main surf instructor, told me to get a surf board. He told me to try that out because since I am very tall I could still use that as a boogie board. A couple of the students had surf boards also but the majority of them just had boogie boards. We were guided Santiago, a very skillful (and young!) surfer who is the son of the other surf instructor. It was a tremendous challenge for me just to stay on the board! Not to mention that I had to paddle, follow the group, wait for the right wave, turn, paddle more, etc.! I was abl to (almost) catch a couple of wave but I definitely manage to have fun in spite of all my struggles. I also experienced the power o the ocean! What a force! I love to be in water (in MN that means my bathtub or the pool at YWCA) but dealing with the ocean is not an easy task. Both physically and mentally. At least for me. I took a short break to change the surf board for a boogie and I went back in to enjoy the ocean once again for a few more minutes. I was little less nervous and just a little more confident so I was able to enjoy it a little more. I am sure that I was quite a funny (or pathetic?) and I served as entertainment for those on the shore. When we were coming out I was quite amused at the fact that a couple of students and I were stuck on the rocky shore. Unable to get up and pushed against that rock by a pretty strong set of waves.

A great dinner (lasagna!) and bonfire followed our afternoon ocean adventure. But those were pretty special, too. (Well, what isn't special when you are on a trip with an amazing group of kids, a skillfull and well prepared crew on a beautiful site by the Pacific ocean) I'll try to describe and honor those moments later.

Now it's time to get some rest. I can feel the force of the ocean down to my bones! I am tired but happy and we still have one whole week ahead!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

News from Baja, mexico

Tacos at Ensenada, Mexico

Shipwreck at Punta San Jacinto (Pacific Ocean)

Learning to surf on the ground (with Indo Boards)


como estan?

greetings from Baja, Mexico. even though we are in very remote a of
Baja, Mexico (Punta San Jacinto) we do have internet!! Ha ha! Weird!

my monday morning started very early. in fact, i didn't go to sleep
at all on sunday night, i was way too excited! even though we were
meeting at 7a at the Minneapolis airport i was there at 6 am!

everything went very smoothly. from checking, flight, crossing border, etc

we had very long but fun filled monday! after a quick stop in San
Diego for pizza (our last american lunch!) we stopped again at
Ensenada, Mexico for some tacos, the market, the sea food market,
music and more. It was a short but lovely first hand experience with
Mexican culture.

we traveled about 5 hours south on Ruta 1 (Road 1) in Baja state with
some great views from the road. Sometimes the ocean, sometimes

We arrived to our camping site, which is much more sofisticated that i
imagined, around 8 pm. After a short orientation we set up the tents.
Jeannie, the class teacher of the 8th grade from City of Lakes Walrdof
School), and I had a blast laughing at outselves and our inability to
put up a tent! We probably won't make great campers in the future but
we have plenty of material for a comedy routine.

The night we't very smooth, too. In a very relaxed atmosphere we had
dinner, chat by the campfire, some playing pool, others contemplating
the ocean. We were blessed with a beatutiful moon!

We were all really tired and it didn't take took long too long until
the only music of voices that could be heard was the sond of the waves
from the pacific ocean welcoming us and singing a lullaby.

One would thnink that we woud sleep late the following morning. But I
think I was one of the last ones to get up and it was about 6:30 am!!

We were off to a good start with a great breakfast and some cleaning chores.

Now we just started our first surf lesson. My legs hurt so bad!! And
he adventure just started!

This is Paulino
from Baja, Mexico
8th Grade CLWS class trip