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Chasing Down The Muse: A 'day at the office' in Baja

August 26, 2010|By Catharine Cooper

Magic has never happened for me inside a cubicle or when face-planted in front of my computer (although I am an admitted digital junkie). For those of you who know me and/or have followed this column, then you understand that I am most alive when I am in an outdoor setting.

Whether it's wandering the valleys and glaciers of Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile, sailing a tall ship through the waters of the San Juan Islands, or tossing beach-gathered "dream" feathers from the top of Mt. Whitney, it is adventure that fattens and fills my soul.

I believe that the best part of me would die within the confines of an office. And to that end, I have chiseled, chipped and crafted a kind of do-it-on-the-spur lifestyle that provides me a decent sense of mobility.

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There is humor to this choice. When I was younger, I was sure that money was the key to my future happiness. My Thurston Middle School yearbook states that what I wanted was "to be a millionaire." What a grand surprise to discover that while money affords many "things" and at least a perceived ease, it is not what brings me joy.

What price can be placed on the silent honoring of a sunrise experienced on a remote beach? Of being present to that moment when night becomes day and the world is once again painted in color? There are no numbers to mark the rich experience of the early call and sweeping wings of the pelican, the tern and the osprey.

The last few years, my travels have been primarily focused in Baja, where I've had a sort of "gringoized" experience of Mexican culture and customs. The towns of Baja are far from the formalized world of the capital, and for the most part, steeped in a relation and reverence for the sea. It is this reverence, born from growing up in Laguna, that ties me to the experience.

The largest population centers of Baja are fringed on both the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez coastlines, and survival has been based on fishing and a commensurate healthy ocean. Once identified by Jacques Cousteau as one of the world's richest seas, the waters continue to team with life.

In other words, no oil spills here.

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