Mary Ann and I spent the day showing off the south end of the
bay, by the lagoon and the shade where we could all sit out of
the sun and shift our chairs every few minutes because the
shelter was the exact size of our group. We loaded ourselves
into our vehicles and drove to the north end, La Gringa. Here
was a long steep beach composed of smooth round stones that
eased their way into a smaller bay, with a large, tidal lagoon
behind. This was home to a number of blue Herron and white
Egrets. When the tide was right there were blue crabs that
could be caught with a small net.
La Gringa Bay is a smaller protected bay within the larger Bahia
de Los Angeles. The calmness of the water at La Gringa is
assured by the northern point, which stops the northwestward
flowing swells of the open Sea of Cortes. The seagulls and
pelicans love La Gringa because it is shallow enough to
encourage the bait to the surface where they become fast food
for the feathered predators.
We walked out toward the point, the northernmost part of the
Bahia de Los Angeles. We could see the outline of the village
in the distance to the south, a disruption in the natural colors
of the desert. It was settled under the two towering mountains,
with the green of the spring at their base, against the barren
browns and tans of the desert.
We were walking amidst uncountable varieties of small seashells,
washed up on the smooth stone beach in waves by the storms. The
lines of shells ran parallel to the waters edge as far as we
could see. As we walked, we gathered our personal favorites
from a selection of murexes, helmets, small conches, Augers,
Dove shells, Trumpets, Whelks, Periwinkles, Turbans, snails,
Cowries, Olives, Limpets, Chitons, scallops, cockles, clams,
mussels, oysters, sand dollars and sea urchins. MA and I had
come here often to collect the Dove shells that we strung
together with fishing line into necklaces that we wore over our
Toward the north end of the lagoon, where the water was the
calmest, there were butter clams lying on the stones at the
ebbing water's edge. On a rocky point behind the lagoon, at the
beginning of a long stony spit we saw a nesting and very large
Osprey. From the point, where the land ended, the outer half of
the sea was outside the bay. The inner was inside the point.
The breeze blew off the water, cool and fresh as it traveled
from the Mexican mainland across the gulf.
In the time it took us to reach the place where the Bahia
becomes once again the open Sea of Cortes we had collected more
shells than we wanted to carry. Nearing this remote point, a
blending of the environments occurs. The rougher and cooler air
and water of the open Gulf meet with the calm and warmer waters
of the Bays of Los Angeles and La Gringa. Rounding the point
into the deeper water the ocean was wild and the wind whipped
the ocean swells into whitecaps. In the distance gulls and
pelicans were working the surface for bait. We watched them
surfing the wind.
Between the point and the Southern end of La Gringa bay a small
pier was located about mid point on the stone beach. It had
been used to load copper or something that was refined out of
green rocks and carried fifteen kilometers from a mine if the
depths of the hills behind La Gringa, where it was loaded into a
no doubt small but sturdy vessel to be shipped who knows where.
South of the pier, strung out on the beach like a strand of
off-color pearls, were a number of green plywood huts. These
housed ruddy local fishermen and sometimes their families. In
front of several of the huts were old and worn pangas, looking
exhausted and spent, flotsam from a shipwreck.
Each hut was twelve feet square and had, of course, no
electricity. A 10-kilometer long, half-inch diameter pipeline,
laying full in the desert sun, encouraged murky green water all
the way from the Village of Bahia de Los Angeles. This putrid
fluid was provided to the doors of the fish camp huts.
In the midst of the camp was an open-air fish processing plant
with a number of men and women cleaning and packing fish. There
were two electric freezers, old and rusted, and an even older
gas powered electric generator driving the freezers to
exhaustion. The workers called back and forth to each other as
they filleted fish, all in good humor. Behind them were the
green huts where they lived and the stones of the beach curving
into the purest simplicity of blue sea and sky.
In this setting, with Mary Ann and our friends and a lonely wild
stretch of beach with Rochie and Dulcie running and playing at
the edge of the water, the lagoon behind us I was completely
comfortable and knew that somehow I had become one with all of
these things. And after being by ourselves for so long it was
great to be with our close friends. We walked from the fish
camp back down the beach and sat for awhile just absorbing the
simple scene, so few encumberments, so many things to ponder.
Back at the cars we deposited our collections of shells in
various repositories and drove back out to the hut at Las
Cuevitas, 3 miles north . . .