A Travellerspoint blog

Midnight In Mexico

Remapping the Stars, Aerobatic Ocean Life, "The Law of Attraction" and a Self Assessment

sunny 70 °F

It’s midnight in Mexico. I’m sitting watch on the bridge (pilothouse) of the Seabird, quietly watching the few navigation lights in the distance, and listening to the coffeehouse music on the XM. It’s a quiet time; the captain and I have settled into our respective thoughts, and a comfortable silence holds between us.
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The night sky is a smoky carpet of shimmering stars. I’ve noticed that the longer I look at the stars, the more patterns I begin to see. I keep coming up with my own design to the stars; some that probably mimic the accepted constellations, but most of them are probably my own creation. Last night I decided that I prefer my organization to the night sky, and I’m seriously considering notifying the officials at various space agencies of my new ordering of the stars. Two thousand plus years of accepted celestial order probably won’t be that hard to rewrite.

My thoughts wander around like a butterfly (once known as a flutter-by, kudos to the rascal who instituted that change). Bridge watch is a perfect time to do some serious mind wandering, and mine is finely tuned; A Formula One precision instrument of aimless ideas and random thought.

Down on the surface of the water, I see the foamy streaks of fish jumping out of the water, mostly skipping along the surface. I’m surprised at how often the creatures of the sea take to the air above their watery home. Whales like to make a big splash when they breech. Picture the biggest “cannonball” you’ve ever seen and multiply it by 50. It’s impressive. Dolphins are like surface to air missiles shot from submarines, they swim along just under the surface then pop up out of the water in a small highly arced rainbow. Rays are my favorite. Picture a giant floppy rubbery Frisbee that can launch itself completely out of the water, only to land back into the surface with a satisfying belly flopping SMACK! They often go airborne several times in a row, and I enjoy listening to the distant “smack, smack, smack” while hiking along the high desert cliffs along the shoreline. I haven’t seen any schools of flying fish yet. These fish, I really want to see, as I hear their flight paths are very impressive, covering over 160 feet with a single flight.
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On occasion, I try to put my life in perspective, and see where I’m at. I’ve chosen a wandering path for my life. While working aboard a ship, I rarely wake up in the same spot in which I went to sleep. In fact, I don’t ever know where I am, when I stumble up the steps to meet the day/night for the first time. I never really know what day it is, and it never really matters. The life of a deckhand runs on the ship’s clock. I need to be on time for my shift, but it makes no difference what day that shift occurs. I’ve lost all concepts of worldly events, any news I get is third hand and long past “hot off the presses.” I’m just fine with this. Most modern news agencies focus too much on all of the negative in the world. A couple of lines from songs come to mind: “Kiss my ass, I’ve bought a boat, and I’m going out to sea. “ Lyle Lovett. Or perhaps, “Well may the world go, the world go. Well may the world go, when I’m far away…“ Pete Seeger. I feel far away from the hustle and bustle of current events and even farther from civilization.

Random Observation No. 1:
I used to enjoy watching football, but now it seems so pointless. I can thank Baja for that. I’m so very far away from it all. I do miss NPR, but that’s about it.

Communicating with my friends and family is very tough to do. Working with satellite internet is brutal in comparison to cable or modern wifi access. Satellite Internet is akin to dial-up internet access only more temperamental and interrupted. It seems to work better going south than going north. I hope that I won’t lose connections I’ve had with my friends and family because of this. I knew that I couldn’t stay in contact with them, when I started this gig, and it’s proven true. Hang in there guys, I’m still alive and well, and look forward to our next meeting. As it stands, I don’t have any phone service. I neglected to inform my cell company before I left, that I’d be out of the country. My current bill is 3 weeks overdue, and I keep forgetting to pay it while in port. Ah well, who needs a phone?
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I’ve made some really good connections with the crew here on the “Bird.” When put into a small environment such as a 152-foot long ship, you tend to get to know your crewmates and co-workers fairly well. As I’ve said before, we are all well traveled, and a little nuts to chose this lifestyle. Working together as a group builds camaraderie, friendship, and bonds. It also makes you work with people who think completely differently than you do and it can be frustrating at times. There are a million ways to skin a cat, and everyone has their own way of doing it. I don’t get too uptight about it, so long as the job is done right.

A friend of mine asked me, “What are five things about yourself that you are grateful for?” We have an ongoing give and take of deep thought provoking questions. I didn’t have to give it much thought, and answered almost immediately with: 1. My sense of humor. 2. My zest for exploration 3. My big, fat, flat feet (My footprints look like someone has been snowshoeing. Local newspapers often run stories that evidence of a sasquatch has been found near their town where they find my prints). 4. My creativity. 5. My artistic nature.

Working and playing here in Baja has further reinforced my life’s “work“ (HA!). I’m happiest when I’m out exploring the natural world, and I‘m very thankful I‘ve figured out my life‘s journey and purpose. To be sure, my whole purpose on this mortal coil is to explore the universe and show people pictures of its unique nature.

Random Interjection No. 2: “The law of attraction.”
A rough synopsis of this “law” states: “positive thoughts will attract positive physical effects.”
I used to scoff at this “law,” but the more I live, the more it seems to apply. What gives credence to this idea (in my experience), is the notion that when I head out for a little jaunt, I usually find something interesting to take note of whether it be a landscape, a vibrant blue crab, or a foot print. I seem to attract interesting natural phenomena, i.e. the blue whale fluke, or a righteous moonset. The jury is still out.
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I get many positive comments about my photography, and people seem to dig it. It comes easy, and I don’t really know how to explain it. When I go out, I see the world, and I often find a flattering composition. Beyond that, my timing is very good. I’m now a firm believer in simple photography. I travel light; I only have a camera (a Nikon P-90), a lens cleaning kit, and a tripod. Hell, my camera isn’t even a pro model, or an SLR, yet I capture extremely satisfying images. I’m not going to toot my own horn much more about it, but the people who run around with 4 lenses, and filters, often miss the shot because they are too busy thinking about their gear. I used to be that way. When I first started taking pictures, I was a gear head, carrying 29 pounds of heavy lenses and other paraphernalia. Good riddance!
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To me photography helps me slow down and look at the world with a finer eye and in more detail. I’m quite happy in putting my camera away if the lighting isn’t quite right, and just enjoying the scene as is. I’m also quite happy to shoot a scene for its duration until I get the shot I want. I’ll probably never make a dime with my photos, but I don’t really give a damn. I’m no businessman. I would love it if people liked my views so much they’d pay me for them, but I doubt I’ll ever go around setting up an actual business of selling my joy. Photography is a gift, and I pass along and share my gift, by showing the populations how I see this magnificent world of ours, albeit to only a small audience.

Random Thought Concerning La Paz:
When walking around La Paz, it’s best to watch where you step. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to how they make the sidewalks. There are sudden drop offs, and steps, blocks and barriers. I have stubbed my toe and tripped several times, one time smashing a nail on my already deformed pinky toes. It’s hard to blend in when you are the only gringo hopping around clutching his bleeding foot and cursing a Midwestern blue streak.
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Yesterday we had sustained wind out of the north all day. We spent the afternoon protected behind an island, but that night, we headed out into the brunt of it. The seas were fairly big by the Sea of Cortez standards, and the swells had us really rocking. I was on duty, and in my element. There is something really fun about trying to walk around on a bucking ship in heavy swell. It’s challenging, and silly. Trying to vacuum the forward lounge was ridiculous. I staggered around, doing my best to hold my balance by staggering in a swaying “drunken” steps. We had to take a big turn into the waves, and everything not tied down took a major slide to port. We ran around looking for damage, and of course there wasn’t any, but this small jab by the sea was a taste of what we could be trying to deal with.

Random Thought No. 4:
It turns out that the water in our toilets is salt water, and when you pee in them at night, the bioluminescence gets agitates and briefly glows in the toilet bowl. Before I knew about bio, I was thinking I had sparkly pee.

To end this rambling escapade, I thought I would end it with a quote, as my own words rarely do justice.

“If you apply reason and logic to this career of mine, you’re not going to get very far. You simply won’t. The journey has been incredible from its beginning. So much of life, it seems to me, is determined by pure randomness.” ~ Sidney Poitier
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Posted by Rhombus 11:04 Archived in Mexico Tagged animals boats desert oceans la photography paz philosophy astronomy

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Comments

AMAZING, stunning photos, Tom. Thank goodness for the art of taking photos for the pure enjoyment of documenting nature's beauty. Although you certainly deserve to be published and to earn from your photos. Wishing you peace and happiness this new year!

by Jen Skoog

loving your philosophy, even if i don't live it. i have a different cat to skin. sounds like you have a dream job. and your words and photography capture your joy in it. even when you've had a bad day.

by Ann Bimberg

Thank you Jen, for you kind thoughts. I know you dig the shutter as much as i do, and it's always good to hear from another photographer.

Ann. Thanks for your continued support, and good luck skinning that cat! :-)

by Rhombus

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