July 27, 2010

The Log from the Sea of Cortez

Explaining the Sea of Cortez to people who don’t know it and love it is almost impossible. Pictures from the area come across as either bland and washed out from the high light, or somewhat fantastical. There is none of the alluring abundance of a South Pacific or Caribbean Island

This place is harsh—the cactus and thorny bushes that look so sparse from shore (especially when you’re picking a likely looking morning hike) are pretty much impenetrable up close. The water contains so many things that sting that we need to swim in jellyfish suits and still end up comparing jellyfish stings. And the wind is always too strong, too weak, or from the wrong direction.

But when we get together with other boaters we can’t help but compare our favourite places and be drawn to the spots we haven’t seen yet. It’s not a romantic or sentimental love though—it’s something that seems more elemental.

I’ve been struggling to find the words to describe this place—beyond snippets of stories and moments out of our life. Fortunately I don’t have to. John Steinbeck did. He was here 70-years-ago on a research vessel. His book is a must have for every visitor to the Sea of Cortez:

   “We wondered why so much of the Sea of Cortez was familiar to us…coming to it was like returning rather than visiting. Some quality there is in the whole Sea that trips a trigger of recognition so that in fantastic and exotic scenery one finds oneself nodding and saying inwardly, “Yes, I know.”
    "If it were lush and rich, one could understand the pull, but it is fierce and hostile and sullen. The stone mountains pile up to the sky and there is little fresh water. But we know we must go back, and we don’t know why.” --John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez

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