Friday, March 17, 2017

Spring Break Day 4: Hello Loreto!

On Day 4, we slept in. We were gearing up for a walking tour of Loreto, a small town of about 14,000 and not a usual stop for cruise ships. Apparently it's a relatively popular destination for ex-pats from North America to find a warm summer home; about 25% of the permanent population are mostly originally from Canada and the US. The ship pulled into the harbour about 11AM, so we had plenty of time to get our coffee and pastries and a bit of fruit. Then once again to the tenders to putter to the docks, where a GIANT banner greeted the Seamonkeys off of the Westerdam specifically, which was kind of awesome.

We met Guillermo, "call me Memo", our tour guide at the dock. This time, instead of forty people on a party boat, it was fifteen people on a walking tour. Memo was exactly our speed: he talked about the history of the state of Baja California Sur (which is different from Baja California -- I imagine the fervor rivals the North/South Dakota distinction in the US), up to and including the geological history and a quick lecture on the local tectonic plate interactions and resultant seismological activities. He talked about the fact that BCS was the last state to join the Mexican Federation, in 1974, and about how their governor and assembly put a high priority on wildlife and nature preservation, and pointed out all of the federal and state parks that take up a majority of the landmass in the state.

Then, as we made our way away from the waterfront, we were incredibly entertained by Memo's rendition of the expedition and landing of the first Jesuit missionaries in the area, and their various trials and tribulations, and the official start of El Camino Real, and the various back-and-forth fighting between the Jesuits and the Francsicans over control of the area's missions. Then we toured the Loreto Mission Chapel, where Memo told us about how the Jesuits ended up with the royal charter to bring Catholicism to the Californias from Philip IV (and the subsequent manipulation of Charles II to take control away from the Jesuits). I took as many pictures as I felt comfortable doing, with the intent of sending it all to my father -- while I don't see myself as a Catholic any longer, I feel an incredibly strong connection with the Jesuits because of my education and upbringing. Aristotle wrote 'Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man'; the Jesuits had me from 4 until 17, so they are indelibly seared on my personhood. I have joked in the past that I'm a Jesuit in the same way some Buddhists are Zen -- I leverage the teachings and rituals and history without actually engaging in the positions around the idea of gods -- but it turns out the training goes much, much deeper than that. I don't think I'd been in a church in probably 10 years when I walked into the chapel, and yet... all of the rituals: the cross, the genuflection, the kneeling, they all came flooding back and it was as if I had lost control of my own body, running on automatic reflex. I know from other things that I am extremely drawn to ritual, and this reinforced it strongly for me. Even discounting my own rejection of the Christ as divinity, I still am pulled forever in the direction of The Church for at the very least it's trappings (and, arguably, teachings, tho' as Pope Frankie says, "All Your Faves Are Problematic"(no, he didn't actually say that, but one of his encyclicals could in fact be summed up that way)). Jean was highly amused by my behaviour around all of this, btw.

This is all to say that the walking tour of Loreto was exactly what I wanted from my shore excursions, and that I got it in Loreto but not in Cabo cemented my love of one and my disdain of the other. By that time, it was nearly time for the food festival, so we strolled around to get a couple more pictures and do a little shopping, and then Principal Sabourin announced that the Festival was open and we started spending our food tickets.

The town of Loreto had put together a deal with JoCoCruise that we Seamonkeys could take over the town square for a big outdoor music show (JoCoChella), and at the same time they would show off the local cuisine -- US$25 per person, eight tickets per, which meant a chance to try out eight different booths out of a total of probably 30. You could buy more than one set of tickets, but they pretty quickly ran out, and I'll tell you, anyone who could eat more than eight portions of the food they were handing out had a bigger appetite than I did. Everything was really excellent -- authentic mexican food, great seafood, interesting takes on local pizza and sushi, great pasta and salads -- and I ate way too much as is normal when the food is both plentiful and delicious. As an American, I am nothing if not fat and lazy well fed and well rested. Food having been consumed, and sunburn again having been acquired, and big outdoor concerts not being my or Jean's particular thing, we decided to head back to the boat for a late nap and a later dinner.

We made an early night of it, as too much food and too much sun had really taken it out of me, and I had real trouble sleeping; I was already starting to think of Home and Work and the approaching End Of The Cruise, so I took some medication and tried to push myself off that particular line of thinking. Jean calls this sort of behaviour 'Going For The Jack', that is, assuming the worst ahead of the actual experience. My brain chemistry was apparently trying to sabotage my excellent experiences, and I wasn't really interested in that, so I exercised my right to Better Living Through Chemistry, grabbed my (brand-new-for-the-trip, gift-from-Jean) kindle, and lost myself in the dark of our cabin and the light of another story.