Back To School

Our travels though Baja have brought us to incredible places and to people who are so intelligent and eager to share their knowledge, homes and ways of life with us. Almost three weeks ago, we left the sanctuary of home and embarked on a journey that none of us knew the exact details of. Everyday has been filled with such potent experiences that I wish I could take a week after just to contemplate and fully understand and appreciate them. I have been learning how to stash all the information from one day in my mind in order to be fully present for the next. All these seeds are being saved up and I cannot wait to let them grow and blossom over these next few months and into the rest of my life.

The first part of our journey landed us in Bahia de Los Angeles where we spent six days at Campo Archelon with our dear friend Antonio. We swam, made new friends, spent a night on a small island, and listened to lectures from Antonio that would blow your mind if you weren’t quick to keep your mind completely open and in absorb mode. Those first few days together showed us our strengths and weaknesses as a group and opened the door for us to understand each other on a deeper level. We were sad to leave Bahia but also excited to experience the lagoon that we had heard so much about. After a stop in Guerrero Negro to resupply food we drove the 45 minutes through the salt flats and monotone desert landscape to Laguna Ojo de Liebre. We battled against the wind as we set up our tents that looked like giant oranges nestled in the sand. Twice we went out in the small fishing boats to observe and interact with the gray whales that are preparing for their journey North. I loved the nights at the lagoon. I could lie for hours on the soft sand, staring up at the sky that seemed to almost encircle us. If the wind was down and you were quiet, you could hear the breath of the whales as they slept in the shallow waters. Our time there seemed to fly by but strong connections were made and with the help of Shari’s translations, two languages were spoken and understood, and long conversations were had. Leaving the lagoon brings us to the final days we will be spending in Mexico.

Driving into Ensenada three days ago was a complete shock to my senses. After so long spent in a mostly untouched nature environment I didn’t know how to take in the streets crowded with so many cars, people, dogs; the huge cruise ship at the dock, casting a shadow over the shops squeezed so tightly together I thought one might be pushed out of its row and tumble into the street. Through the bustle of the city and into the country we came to be where we are now; tucked up a lush valley, camping in the tall grass of Laura and Izequiel’s backyard.

This last part of our trip is different from what we have been experiencing. We have been in the wilderness mostly just with each other and now we are in more of a city environment with many other people, most of them our age, to interact and engage with. There is complete cultural immersion and many social gatherings. Wednesday night Debra announced with great gusto that: “The students are going to school tomorrow!” Tyler, Forrest and I looked at each other; what was she talking about? She had arranged with Laura, the principal of Colegio Patria, the school across the road from us, for the three of us to attend classes with the seniors. Hmm… We didn’t really know what to think of the new development. None the less, at seven Thursday morning we were bright eyed and bushy tailed (as Deb likes to call it), walking to school with notebooks in hand, not really sure what to expect. As Michael Jackson played over the loudspeakers to signal the start of school we were lead to a class and told to have a seat. Not much else was explained. It was a Philosophy class. In Spanish. College prep philosophy is mind boggling enough as it is and then to have it in a language you don’t understand! The classes that followed were Logic, Writing, and Ecology; in 90 minute blocks. There was a bit of confusion but we managed to figure things out and by the end were having a great time.

The last class of the day was dance. Salsa. I was very excited but the boys were a bit less than enthusiastic about it. We learned a few of the basics and it went by way too fast. I could have spent hours more learning from Sophia and Carlos. Afterward the boys were converted. They had actually really enjoyed it and we all had some embarrassing moments to talk about. It was a very full day spent in “school” and a wonderful look into the culture of this place that is so new to us.

–Shona

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