God, the Hurricane Katrina stuff is horrifying. The Miami Herald is doing bang-up coverage of the disaster - one of the articles in their package today quoted the former mayor of New Orleans calling it "Pompeii" and saying that the city was just done for, totally uninhabitable. Other folks seem a little less dire, but looking at the video on CNN I tend to agree with the city being wiped-off-the-face-of-the-map assessment. I hope I'm wrong. Also worth checking out is the New Orleans Times-Picayune blog. They had to evacuate their newsroom. That paper is a big Medill shop, so hang in there, guys.
I have a particular fondness for New Orleans, just because it's one of the first vacations I took with my parents that I was old enough to actually remember - I was 13. (It seemed like a real vacation, no offense to, you know, Ohio.) I have a distinct memory of almost passing out when I got shrimp at dinner that still had their heads on and I loved all the huge old buildings in the French Quarter, which inspired me to start reading Anne Rice, which thankfully allowed me to realize at an early age that Anne Rice is crap. We also took a ferry down the Mississippi River, and my lifelong obsession with beignets also started then.
So, all that being said, here's a link to the American Red Cross. You can designate your donations for hurricane relief.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Even though my parents live about 15 minutes north of the border in San Diego, I hadn't been to Mexico since high school. (And yes, then it was a valid trip to attempt to stutter by with our 11th grade Spanish while we shopped. I remember being really proud when I ordered a 7-Up. "Un 7-Up, por favor." ) On Friday a group of us started a L.A. to Mexico caravan, with our final stop being at La Bufadora, a coastal village about 10 miles south and 10 miles west of Ensenada.
I was surprised at some of the logistics involved. For starters, like hell was I taking my car down there. There is a car rental place that allows you to take their cars into Mexico in Spring Valley, so we decided to drop our cars off at my parents' house and get a car from there. It wound up being a whopping big Buick Century, which drove like a boat and guzzled gas, but served us well.
I figured after 9/11 that Mexico might have some qualms about crossing into their country, but just like I remembered when I was a kid, you can pretty much fly over the border at 60 miles per hour. Tijuana is just as horrible as ever - this recent article in the San Diego Reader about the rebirth of Tijuana not withstanding. I'm sorry, when your immediate view when you cross is still 85% shantytowns, I don't consider it a rebirth. In a way, it's infuriating and should be the impetus for an immediate overhaul of our immigration and foreign aid policies and ... oh, there I go again. We're on vacation. Anyway.
It takes about an hour and a half to get to La Bufadora. It's known for this huge blowhole that's created in a crevice between the ocean and a cliff wall. The water spews up about 100 feet - it's quite amazing. There is a row of shops, bar and restaurants that lead to the blowhole. They manage to be both touristy and charming. There's access to a small beach where people kayak, scuba and just sit at stare at the quite impressive view.
We rented a beach, uh, shack, that was up on the cliff facing the bay. It was in fairly shoddy condition - living and dead bugs in the bed, a deck that seemed destined for some sort of collapse and general questionable cleanliness. I hope I was fairly successful in not being a first-world snot about the whole thing. I was reading on the Internet that La Bufadora really only got electricity about 5 years ago - so all things considered they're doing pretty well there.
The people, both Mexican and burnout Americans were charming and helpful, incredibly understanding with my decidedly tourist-grade Spanish. And the food was wonderful. Lard and Mexican Coca-Cola for all!
Posted by Annie D at 8:00 PM