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Stories by Mike Humfreville

Dark Days Following Escalera Nautica    ( Posted November 14, 2003 )

[Ed. Mike writes a letter from the future (2006 - not so far off).]

From La Gringa, 2006

April 14, 2006

Mary Ann - just a short note.

I passed by Bahia de Los Angeles yesterday. I decided to go out to La Gringa and ended up spending a week there. It's has really changed since we were last here. I remember La Gringa from her simpler days, the days before her contemporary, high rise hotels were built, towering into her backdrop of blue sea and sky; before they broke up the tan landscapes looking west across the thin peninsula, where no one came. I remember the sand, south of Roberto's hut - the only permanent structure then - sand for miles; the myriad stingrays that idled and played there in the warm shallows. This was, of course, well before they built the first of the many piers that now house the hundreds of shops and restaurants that draw so many of us here today. Now we have a nice collection of tennis courts and lawn bowling instead of the open desert.

The bay was so quiet in those years. We listened to the gulls and pelicans working bait all night long. We were often the only ones here, for miles. The dolphin and seals patrolled a shore so pristine the sun's reflection was as bright and pure as the sun itself. Now, the bay is so full of docks, moorings, boats and ships that you can hardly see the water at all.

This morning I disposed of two dead pelicans from the tiny strip of sand that has yet to become populated with some other tourist attraction - the last open 25 feet of beachline on the entire bay. The Great Grey Herons that once lived in the lagoon, the egrets are gone. A parking lot leveled and filled that tiny void. The green reeds and delicate water plants that were here have been replaced by curbed and manicured planters housing fichus that can, ignored by man, survive the heat. The old dirt road that used to lead northward to Las Cuevitas is now an international airport, bringing the thousands of visitors here weekly from the north and east. It is quite an accomplishment. La Gringa has become the new Cabo.

It's quite realistic, really; it's much closer to the border by car or by plane than the cape. And the money has been rolling in since the development was begun, just a year or two ago. Property values are through the roof. The place is really thriving. Remember back, in the early mornings, when the tide was out, we used to sit alone, just here, and inhale the sweet smell of seaweed, drying on the stones? Now in the morning we are treated to the oily stench of breakfasts, prepared for thousands, and to the rancid dankness of diesel from the hundreds of boats that pull in or out throughout the day. It's a good thing there's often a strong breeze here; else the fumes would choke a horse.

The La Gringa spit, where we used to walk, arm-in-arm, collecting small shells, is still here, of course. They've built a concrete breakwater that is much tougher than the natural gravel bar that had served for so long. The breakwater, like the piers along the beach, is packed with tourist businesses. It's rather nice, from either the beach or the breakwater you can look toward the other front and, in the evenings, see the thousand lights, strung along the waterfront, reflecting off the ocean, when you can catch a glimpse of it. The Mariachi's play in the small streets until midnight. After that the discos rule, loud throbbing and raw music pulsing off the dance floor, out the open windows and into the night air where previously we had camped on smooth round stones, just north of the old pier. There was never a sound in those days except a few lapping melodies caused as the small waves raked the stones. Back then we went to bed early, sweethearts, children, friends. Only a few of us endured the hardships of the myriad stars and satellites. Now, with all the new activities, I am the one finding an early bedtime. Speaking of which... On the way back to my room on the tenth floor of the La Gringa Ritz-Carlton I spotted a single pelican, squatting alone, along an unattended place on one of the boardwalks. He wasn't supposed to be there, the folks here don't like the messes they make. Doesn't he know he not supposed to be there? Doesn't he know his place in the order of things?

I'll be home soon.

All my love,


Copyright 2003-2006 Mike Humfreville

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