The Coast News Group
Sea Notes

Life in Baja with the Scorpion Queen

My poor wife was tired of my petty whinings: May gray, real estate signs littering the sidewalks, massive sweepers shutting me out of Cardiff and the normally benign phrase, “Thank you so much” (drawing out the word “much” so that it becomes two syllables) primary among them.
Each time I opened a door for someone under 25, or a waiter poured them water, it would elicit the newest cliché, “Thank you so much,” until I simply couldn’t take it any more. Of course it’s a small thing, and yet I am too old to fake gratitude.
Last week (during vacation) I met someone who lives in a state of grace, expressing authentic gratitude for even the smallest things. She operates a small, tidy hotel surrounded by dust, cactus and a sometimes-perfect wave, in the town of San Juanico, known to surfers internationally as Scorpion Bay. She goes by the unlikely name of Boozie, a long complicated story of an older sister’s mispronunciation and not reflective of the woman’s general state.
Boozie doesn’t surf, doesn’t drive luxury cars, works 12 to 14 hours a day and is, by all appearances, one of the most content people I have ever met. Her secret is not in having everything, but in valuing what she does have.
The town where Boozie lives is a combination old Baja, Wild West show and distorted American dream. By car it is a two-day journey through the desert. For us it was a two-hour flight, followed by a five-hour drive down a rock strewn road, with a somewhat sketchy river crossing where you feel your car could be washed out from under you. The road will be repaired, but when hurricanes hit Baja, as they inevitably do, it will probably vanish again.
The town’s population is about half refugees, snowbirds, retirees and surf fanatics, with local fishermen, mechanics, shopkeepers and their families making up the rest. I prefer the working-class side of town where a simple and sincere gracias replaces the overly zealous, “Thank you so much.”
Nobody would travel this far to visit such a town, which, as Americans love to do, is being developed into the newest version of American overkill, complete with the most expensive houses being vacant much of the time. No, it’s the wave they come for, a retiree’s dream glide, going down the line forever until it empties into a peaceful bay. The crowds swell in proportion to whatever the Internet is reporting.
I rode one wave for a solid four football fields, something that gave me pause to look up and sincerely address the God I serve with a heartfelt, Thank you so much. Along for the ride were two other ageless gremmies, Stuart Grauer and Brian Logan. They’ll give you the rest of the story.
To learn more about Scorpion Bay and the Scorpion Bay Surf and Fishing Club, visit www.scorpiionbayclub. com.