We both woke up in the early hours to the sound of dripping water. While it could have been another poorly aimed sprinkler head, it turned out to be one of the oddest things ever, a rainy day at the beach.

I took a look out the window, and amidst the gloom, the sea outside was covered with birds. One big flotilla of Double-crested Cormorants was bobbing in a big black mass just off-shore, apparently waiting for an adequate supply of fish to appear. I dressed quickly and went outside to find that the shore was lined with Great White Egrets, and hundreds of Brown Pelicans were floating alongside the Cormorants. A half-dozen or so Loons filled out the scene. As often happens, some bird down the way says, “Hey, the food is over here” and everyone launches at the same time. The flight of Cormorants took a full 30 seconds to disappear.

Since we were up we decided to take a walk down the beach. The tide was very high, pushing our path up onto the ridge of sand formed by the last storm. The recent weather has left behind a number of tide lines, composed of seashells and pebbles, along with a collection of toe-breaking rocks, uncovered by the waves stripping away the sand. It was raining lightly and only a few other people were out. I stopped at one point and took a look over the dunes – two male Cardinals, shockingly red and loudly contrasting with the gray sky, were having a song battle over a sole female.

The small bay that forms the estero’s outlet to the sea was full of Red-breasted Mergansers, given away by their faux-mohawk hairstyles. They were in a bit of a frenzy, paddling rapidly and plunging beneath the surface and popping up in search of their breakfast, creating a mess of churning white water. I walked past 3 Wilson’s Plovers, frozen in place that looked like a little placement of gray rocks. Pelicans, Godwits, Oystercatchers, Black-bellied Plovers – all hunkered down on the shore waiting for who knows what.

Deciding to put the gray day to good use we hopped in the car and headed to town for some planned shopping. The estuary around the bend from San Carlos had a lot of birdlife, and a rank smell – it seems perhaps the little Colonia that has appeared on one end of the water over the last few years is now dumping its sewage straight into the marsh. We went on to the store parking on the outer edge of the lot (as our car is too big for a single space) and walked in past 3 dogs sleeping in the handicapped parking spaces. One looked quite unwell.

After completing our business in the pharmacy and picking up some stuff for our kitchen we decided it might be fun to make fudge in Mexico. The challenge, of course, would be finding the goods, because Mexican grocery stores don’t often have things you might expect. So I found a clerk and did my best to ask him, in Spanish, where I could find the necessary chocolate. I used the best words I had, “for the oven,” and “for cookies” before he got what I was aiming at. I told him there are a lot words in Spanish that I don’t commonly use, and replied that it was exactly the same for him in English. Our choices were limited, but adequate and finding the other necessity was easier, because Mexicans use condensed milk for all kinds of things that we would never consider. Like milk in their coffee.

We checked out and I took a look at the bill and realized it was considerably more than I expected it to be. Like 500 pesos instead of 300 so I ran my finger down the list and found that we’d been charged 200 pesos for something from the pharmacy, which we’d already paid for. I went back to the cashier, she pointed me to customer service, at which point I snapped to what had happened – I’d thrown the empty medicine box that we had used in the pharmacy in the bag (to get it out of my pocket) and the cashier had accidentally rung it up.

Try for a moment to think about how you’d explain that. Well, using a combination of my limited vocabulary and a lot of hand-waving, I managed to get the point across. The clerk called the manager who cheerfully refunded me my 200. One more of those little foreign-language moments that I just love.

Lunch was a fantastic roasted chicken from Pollo Lopez, the best little rotisserie chicken place in the entire world. $10 gets you a giant bird, hacked into workable pieces and a pile of roasted potatoes and corn tortillas.

The day cleared up, we had another walk, a less stupendous sunset and we ended it all at Rosas with a plate of carne machaca and a great conversation with the owner, Martín, who cleared up the mystery of the local building boom. Not Americans, not Cartels, but businessmen from Hermosillo and Ciudad Obregon who had suddenly discovered San Carlos. American tourist business was down in his estimation, mainly due to some of the recent Cartel stories in the American press. He said Americans were coming, but not eating out. And while it’s normally a bit slower during this part of December, even we had arrived at the same conclusion. Shame really, because the place is just as wonderful as it always is.

Off to post today’s update, which you should know requires me to grab a dining room chair and place it in front of the open front door so that I can point my computer in the direction of the condominium office from whence comes the WiFi signal sporadically emanates.

The things I do for literature.