Mexico – Los Cabos
January saw us heading off to warmer climes, in the shape of San Jose del Cabo, on the western side of Mexico and borders by the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. Our accommodation was stunning, with numerous pools to choose from, and waiter service to whichever four poster bed you happened to choose; a perfect spot to fire up the Kindles, order an cocktail and some guacamole, and unwind.
Whilst there we booked a whale watching trip with one of the local firms; after an early start to do the rounds of collecting people from the various hotels, we arrived in Cabo San Lucas to receive our briefing. On with the life jackets, a quick reccie by the guides to ensure even weight distribution on our boat, and off we went. Heading out of the bay we saw numerous sea lions basking on the rocks; quite a sight to see having only seen on or two at most in a sea life centre display. As we picked up speed and bounced across the waves our guide told us all about the local whales, and what we could hope to see. All eyes peeled and focused on the water, it wasn’t long before we noticed some fins and took up the chase. Despite the restriction on how close you can go to the hump backed whales, it wasn’t hard to see even from just a flipper the sheer size of them.
A spectacular dance show one evening told us some of the local legends surrounding the summoning of water gods, beautifully performed under a star lit sky. The local town put on an art walk once a week, with local art galleries and shops welcoming visitors with tequila and nibbles, whilst dancers and other performers entertained in the streets.
On our last day we sat on the beach listening to the waves crashing on the sands, when a hotel worker passed us with some poles and tape which he placed in a circle on the beach. As we watched, intrigued, a small crowd gradually accumulated around a hole where a couple of people were donning rubber gloves. My first (macabre) thought, bearing in mind what we hear about Mexico, was that some body parts had been found. However, the general mood of the group was one of cheerful fascination, so my initial guess seemed unlikely. On investigation, to my delight, it proved to be a nest of hatching turtles, gradually emerging or being helped from their respective shells by the rescue squad. The baby turtles are then taken to be cared for until they reach a viable size to be safely returned to the wild.
A wonderful bonus to behold at the end of a truly restorative break.
Fire and Ice
February brought us a ray of sunshine in the form of daughter T, hotfoot from London, for a well earned break. With R heading off to the heat and smog of Pune and Mumbai for a work conference, our weather decided to crank up the snow delivery. Dog walks took us to magical places, where no one had set foot on the new sprinkling of fairy dust, and Hector gathered icicles on his whiskers and between his toes. It was the weather for baking, log fires, and a wee dram before bedtime; plenty of time for catching up and chewing the fat.
Despite the near cancellation due to poor road conditions, we managed to get to Dundas for a long awaited workshop with PMC (precious metal clay). Sandra (touch-of-glass.ca) watched over us as we fashioned our clay into pieces of jewelry to be fired. The following day we returned to scrub and polish our pieces to a shine.
Family Day February 19th
With R working, and most businesses and shops shut for the annual Family Day, I was looking forward to a long dog walk with a friend, followed by some uninterrupted art time for myself.
Fate however, had different plans for me; one smoke alarm going off, one fire extinguisher that proved woefully inadequate, and eight fire trucks (plus police cars and paramedics) later, we had been rendered homeless by an electrical fire.
After a few calls were put out, friends and neighbours rallied round, whisking Hector off our hands, and scooping us up for hot tea and sustenance. Later that afternoon, we were allowed back in to gather some possessions whilst there was still daylight; what earlier that day had resembled a home of familiar objects had turned to an alien landscape of furniture huddled under tarps, belongings blackened and tossed in a heap, and an acrid, clinging tang in the air. We retreated to our hosts’ in subdued silence.
The following week flew by in a flurry of frenzied rummaging to retrieve and salvage as much as we could (with help) followed by the eerie sight of people from the insurance company in white boiler suits and masks logging and bagging items piece by piece, room by room. Airing dirty laundry had nothing on the sensation of strangers picking over the bones of our seemingly ordered lives and possessions once again.
Move on two weeks and people have continued to be our saving grace, not only with kind wishes, but the practical too. Homemade soup and a glass of Canadian wine after a day that began at 4am and consisted of relentless packing, washing, transporting of goods until I could barely function; the collection of items by unknown people who’d heard of our plight and wanted to give us household items (and a leash for Hector) to keep us going; and the seemingly endless generosity and kindness of our hosts.
We are in the process of buying a property here, prompted by the desire to be responsible for our own safety, and the privacy that ownership provides.
Wish us luck!
Our move went relatively smoothly, and we were finally reunited with our belongings; having undergone so many moves in the last two years where your worldly goods are totally at the mercy of someone else’s care (or negligence) does make you reconsider what is actually of importance. It’s so easy to hang onto items that aren’t truly necessary, and we have become more circumspect about this – I think…
An unexpected bonus on our arrival was my sighting in our new garden of a family of foxes – parents and six cubs; playing around in the snow in plain sight of us watching was a real privilege. Unfortunately, since Hector came home, they have kept a very low profile, although the odd piece of squirrel turns up now and then.
Friends again rallied round to help us move some of our belongings over to the house, plus my sister arrived on the day and straightaway got stuck in unpacking and stowing items whilst R and I checked where each box should go. J and I eventually had a chance to catch up in the evening, and spent a fantastic week together, mixing settling into the house with visits to Niagara and Toronto.
Spring eventually arrived, bring with it the promise of new beginnings, and what better way to mark the occasion than with a wine tour of Niagara on the Lake! Organised byRobert’s nursing colleagues, we pitched up expecting a coach to transport us there but instead, we had the full party bus experience; leather couches, disco lights and some prosecco to get things underway. We visited a variety of wineries, testing out wine, various ciders (including one mixed with whisky – it sold out very fast), and learning about the history of wine making in the region. The weather, the scenery and the company leant itself to a throughly enjoyable day, although the journey home got a little high spirited, with dancing and pole dancing challenges taking centre stage; what stories the bus drivers could tell!
Lobster season at the end of May meant more feasting, and the local lavender farm began their annual planting out. The countryside around Hamilton is in complete contrast to the smoky steelworks of the city, with rolling fields interspersed with woodland stretching for miles. The Grand River weaves its way through this area, linking indigenous territory with modern Canadians, not always in a harmonious manner. Tensions are still evident in the occasional blockade as the Six Nations continue to dispute ownership of the land.
Blacksmithing has always been something that intrigued R so, courtesy of the children, he headed out to Milton, Ontario for a hot day at the forge – see photographic evidence.
a totally gratuitous picture of Hector enjoying his new garden.