We were told that Peñasco is the beach of Arizona and that rattled around in our heads the whole time we were there, and we realized, "What!? Arizona, home of some of the most anti-immigrant sentiment and laws, has her vacation home in Mexico?" Of course, Arizonans (and other folks from the US) want to be able to travel across borders, stretch their dollar and enjoy a pristine environment where they can plop a house just 50 feet from the ocean, but those people who are building their house on that beach shouldn´t be given the opportunity to cross a line to earn a decent wage or give their kids a decent education, right? No way.
So, it was a little icky feeling and I think this feeling put me in a funk for a couple days because even though we did some awesome stuff, not a lot of it sunk in. Now, I have all these questions I am wondering why I didn´t ask, but in the moment, I was just floating along.
Our stay in Peñasco was much improved by the fact that we stayed at CEDO, a desert and ocean research and eduction center. And the fact that we stayed with this semester´s crew of students from the Earlham Border Studies Program, a semester long, domestic "study abroad," if you will, that is based in Tucson but brings students all over the border and Mexico, studying immigration, human rights, globalization, environmentalism, etc. With CEDO and the crew from Earlham (you don´t have to go to Earlham to participate), we went on a kayak tour of an estuary on the Gulf and up to the Pinacate peaks, a range of volcanoes and craters, just on the other side of the border from the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge in Arizona.
We kayaked in the Morua estuary as the tide rippled in, where we saw crabs, a great variety of birds (sandpipers, egrets, herons, osprey, some kind of kingfisher, and, of course, sea gulls), and jumping fish. We also passed several oyster farms, one of which was part of a women´s cooperative. I have seen sewing and weaving women´s cooperative, and even cooperatives that make composting toilets, but this was a first! How awesome! And sustainable too. Of course, we had to give our support and try some oysters. A bit gooey for my taste, and fortunately, it wasn´t until after we ate them that they informed us that they are alive when we eat them. (Sorry, no pictures, until I get my disposable underwater camera developed! (talk about not sustainable...))
On Sundy morning, we ventured over to the Pinacate and Great Desert of Altar Biosphere Reserve. We enjoyed the visitor´s center, where we watched an awesome video that told us the history of the area, the historic indigenous migrations, and had awesome wildlife footage. With all that, the fact that stuck the most was that vultures are bald so that infection won´t grow on their head as they feast on flesh--fascinating, huh?
Eric is much better than me, and he recalls that the indigenous people of the area, the O´odham, seasonally traveled from what is now Arizona, through the Pinacate, all the way to the Gulf of California, where they would catch fish and dry them for future consumption. They were wise to the landscape of the Pinacate and relied on hidden pools of rainwater called tinajas, similar to the huecos at Hueco Tanks State Park right outside of El Paso.
Then we went out and visited two maar craters, which are created by groundwater coming into contact with hot lava. The Pinacate Reserve is home to 9 maar craters, one of the largest concentrations in the world.
|Crater El Elegante - a maar crater, caused by steam|
|Eric and I with the Earlham crew|
|The public beach where we met Cervando|
|Eric with Cervando|