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Stories by Mike Humfreville

Family Matters    ( Posted May 4, 2005 )

In the midst of the author's booksigning at the Pyramid hotel south of Rosarito beach a couple of weeks back, we were gearing up to the shared meal late in the day. Mary Ann and I were talking with a few friends in a group and a pal and his wife ask if we'd all like to run down the beach a mile or two to see their home.

"It's not far from here." He said. And we set off for a visit.

We piled the group of us into Vaca Blanca and followed directions until we arrived at what seemed like a tiny beachfront community of mostly smaller tourist homes. But, leaving the highway towards the water it became obvious that the grouping of homes was not small at all. Nor were the individual homes. There must have been several hundred houses tucked onto this hillside beachfront. We wound our way down the bluffs and were directed to a particular road, then a specific house, parked and exited the truck and were welcomed by our friends to the house that had been in their family for two generations.

I have, in my 62 years, never seen a warmer, more charming place. It was two stories; the downstairs was packed with a kitchen, small hall, a room with an elevated bed, a living area and much more. The upstairs was similar minus the kitchen, again with an elevated bed. It turns out the beds were elevated to allow the grand ocean view while still in them.

But it wasn't the arrangement of rooms that was striking, it was the attention to detail that had gone into the aging construction, and the warmth of the appointments. The size of each room was relatively small, like you'd expect at a beach house anywhere, but their arrangement was totally functional and accommodating. On every wall, paintings and small family photographs were hung; creations, some artistic, some rough hued were suspended. A door stop was handmade by our friend's father as were a table top of broken tile and other warm items. Character was represented there, in as many forms as it could take.

We sat, us friends, for a while on the upper deck overlooking a rocky coastline with major breakers smashing into spume in front of us. Our host told us of the history of the campo and his family home. His dad had put his heart into the place and it showed and it was partially passing down a trail of years to his son and his family. You could touch the warmth; the unique woods and finishes, the floors, the low and heightened ceilings and the personal touches. Everywhere you looked were signs of the love that had been put into the place.

Alas, we were due back at the Pyramid for dinner and all sped there. During the evening we continued the festivities. They ended in a tequila tasting where Jose Cuervo Tradicional won. It had cost NP 351.00 for a liter bottle. It was recommended by another friend on a Web board.

The small sips of Tequila did their work and before long we were wearing down and then in bed, talking about the filled-to-the-brim day. Mary Ann was soon asleep and I was reading when I thought about the home we had visited.

There are many mostly-American communities thriving on Baja's "Gold Coast." There are as many white-plastered magnificent domiciles as you can count, developed inside whitewashed protective walls with cemented roadbeds and all the amenities. The carefully arranged art and beautiful sculptures in those abodes and wonderful. But are they Mexico? Do the fancy lifestyles allow us to change from or simply relive what we have further north?

What I want is the change, the comparison of lifestyles. I don't want the same things on two sides of a border. I want to live the difference. I know that is true with my wife and our children. They want it also. So I guess I can call myself, in some small way, successful.

You know you're in trouble when a friend's house gives you a feeling of success. But what's what it did.

Copyright 2003-2006 Mike Humfreville

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