Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Sea of Cortez

The Most Beautiful Places on Earth





Time stops in Baja.  Days are not organized by a clock, but by the rhythms of nature.  I wake at the crack of dawn.  The seas and the wind are calm. This is my time.  I walk for miles and do not see another human being--only gulls and pelicans and oyster catchers.  I am seeking my lone blue heron, which my travel buddy has dubbed my spirit animal.  I do not see him every day, but I can feel his presence.   If I'm lucky I will come upon a feeding frenzy where dozens of dolphins and hundreds of diving birds are fighting over a smorgasbord of fish.

Around noon the winds arrive and I retreat inside the villa to escape being sand blasted.  The afternoons, however, belong to my husband and son.  They sail the sea on their windsurfers until exhaustion overtakes them.  We meet at dusk when the world once again quiets down.  The islands turn from pale orange to pink.  We sit with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer and watch the day come to an end.

Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez the "World's Aquarium" and "The Galapagos of North America."  This gulf was added to the World Heritage Site list in 2005 for both its marine diversity and its extraordinary beauty.  The comment I hear most frequently by fellow travelers down here is "I'm inside a Monet painting."  I know exactly what they mean.   I have been coming down here since 1981, and  its beauty continues to take my breath away.  As we turn east on the second day of the drive down, that first glimpse of lavender islands surrounded by turquoise water makes me gasp.   Every single time.

The Sea of Cortez or the Gulf of California is the body of water between the Baja Peninsula and mainland Mexico.  The Baja Peninsula is one of the longest peninsulas in the world, second only to the Malay Peninsula in Asia.  It is about 800 miles long.  This part of the world separated from the North American continent about five million years ago during a time of violent earthquakes and volcanic action.  Indeed, most of the islands were formed as a result of volcanic explosions.  They are uninhabited and this is precisely why we keep coming down here year after year.  These photographs were taken last week at Bahia de Los Angeles.  Although we have driven the entire peninsula, this is the area we keep coming back to.  Its quiet beauty fills us with a peace unlike any other place we have ever been.  

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