Friday, March 23, 2012

Big Mexico: La Paz, Baja Sur

A float from the Carnival parade.
Back at the Posada LunaSol in La Paz, we got our stuff out of storage and came back to 'regular' life. Some went out to eat, but Lia and I were feeling overfed in general plus we wanted to check out the Festival. It was Fat Tuesday, the last night of Carnival. She had never seen a real street festival in Mexico with all the wonderful music, smells, and food booths. Of course we ended up eating AGAIN, this time a bite here, a bite there. Booths were overflowing with popcorn, special yeast breads stuffed with a sweetened cream, not unlike a very soft cream cheese, the usual carved mangoes on a stick, charales (those little whole fried fish that crunch), roasted ears of corn dipped in butter or slathered with lime-mayonnaise and sprinkled with chile-salt, and so much more. There were con-booths with balloons you pop with a dart, bowls of water you try to get a coin to fall into, funny wooden things you try to stand up on for 10 seconds but which roll out from under you almost instantly.....

The cathedral is undergoing a
transition.
Band stands had been set up within ear-shot of each other so the loud music tended to overlap and gave an interesting twist to the street's cacophony. The crowd was dense in the Malecon, the area along the beach and it's parallel street. Hotels overlooking the party were packed with people in the upstairs bars watching the crowds, and hotel guests sitting out on their balconies. We wandered all over until our feet were exhausted. Lia felt like she was coming down with the revenge, so I stopped at a tiny tienda that was open on a side street. I asked for Pepto-Bismol, or something for diarrhea. The woman said "Lomatil" and opened up a box, pulled out a card of pills and cut off two squares with a tiny blue pill embedded in each. She gave me strict instructions to only use one and not the other until tomorrow and ONLY if really needed.  It's powerful stuff and fixed Lia up right away. I gave her the other pill just in case, but I should have kept it for myself, eventually I needed one, too, in San Miguel.

Wednesday four of our group left to return to the states, and the rest of us explored La Paz on foot. I needed to purchase a ticket on the Ferry for the next day, and had to go in person to the Ferry headquarters. Unfortunately all the cabins had been sold and only seats were available. I would soon be joining the masses of people needing to find a place to sleep on the ferry overnight to Mazatlan.  It made me appreciate my comfortable bed at the Posada one more night.

I found everyone at the anthropology museum which Felicia said was full of interesting objects but all the signs were in Spanish, so they missed much of the explanations. We hiked to the Zocalo to an exhibition of exquisite photographs by two local artists. Then walked around till we found the seafood restaurant that our guide had recommended. As a fan of street food and little hole in the wall restaurants, I don't usually go to the gringo-tourist places with table cloths, super attentive waiters, and expensive food that tastes (usually) the same. But Felicia and I shared a mariscos platter of shrimp, octopus, and fish, shared guacamole with the others, and had truly a wonderful lunch.

An old boat used as a planter and sign.
Lia and I walked back to the hotel, exploring the city as we went. We passed a community organic garden which was most interesting. A Canadian woman who lives nearby was there tending to her patch and explained how the cooperative worked. What a nice concept for city people to have a place to grow food, support each other's efforts, and pay only a pittance for the water bill.

Businesses along the Malecon






At the hotel, the Opsahls got the upstairs apartment, which is usually the hotel owner's home when in town. So we had access to a fine kitchen fully equipped. After lunch, the others went to the market to see what was fresh and might be good for dinner.  Felicia is by far the best chef I know personally. That evening she put together a dinner of baked fish with chunky salsa on top, some guacamole and a side dish of stuffed poblanos that was hands down the best meal we'd eaten on the entire trip. If I sell my condo in Los Alamos some day, I wonder if she and Evan would let me move in with them.



Public beach and marina


A fancy hotel and restaurant on the beach.



Another section of the Malecon.