Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sword fighting Hummingbirds

I love waking up in the morning to the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach and the birds singing their morning songs.  We have some really beautiful birds here in the winter. Lots and lot of hummingbirds swoop through the park ever day sword fighting with their pointy beaks battling for a place on one of the many feeders.  A few days ago I decided to try and capture some of their antics on film.  Hope you enjoy



Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Fisherman at Punta Lobos

Recently my husband Clem and I decided to get up early and have our first cup of coffee at Punta Lobos watching the local fisherman launch their boats.  It was a little windy that morning and I didn't expect to stay very long however two hours later I was still standing there watching in awe as the crew of the very last boat of the morning pushed it's way into the pacific ocean.

The routine that we witnessed had obviously been taking place on that beach the same time and the same way for many many years.  I am sure that the men who were there that day had watched their fathers and grandfathers on that very beach when they were young boys.  Everyone knew the deal and everyone knew their part.  There were many interruptions, break downs, and adjustments to the event but as my husband Clem observed the mexican fisherman of Pescadero are masters of plan B.

Everything centered around this one man in a beast of a truck.  As I watched him pull, push, and tug each of the pangas into line on the beach I wondered if this was a job he was paid for doing or maybe an honored position.  Either way he was definitely the man who made this whole thing happen and you did not want to get in his way.  He meant business.

After the first few boats got into the water it was obvious that without each other the fisherman could find themselves in serious danger quick.  The wind and the waves could easily push the small pangas into the rocks if their engines failed to start or just quit.  To counter this possibility each of the pangas tied onto each other until they were in a position of safety out in the ocean.

The crew of the next boat to launch would swap hand signals with those already out and when the waves were just right they would take off like a bob sled crew jumping in at the last minute.  I found myself holding my breath waiting for the boat's engine to crank and stay running.  Sometimes they didn't.  Even so they would pop the engine cover or make some type of adjustment and eventually off they would go. 

I took a series of photos that will depict what actually happened out there that morning much better than I could ever describe.  The next time you come to Pescadero for a visit I highly recommend that you go see this.  It is one of those things that you won't read about in the Baja Western Onion and it won't be listed in the Calendaria.  For me it was a glimpse into the culture of the people who have been living in this beautiful area for generations. 

The pangas lined up on the shore waiting to launch
The "beast" dragging a panga into line on the shore

The danger of this profession reflected by the
presence of the local Fisherman's Shrine
located off the beach

Here the crew pushes the panga toward the ocean
after orchestrating their turn with those on the
beach as well as the boats already in the water

The last minute jump

Hitting the waves at just the right moment

And away they go. 

Plan B.  Need to work on the prop.  Dig a hole in the sand.  No Problem

The "beast" pushing a panga in place

One, two, three, go!

Another one is out.
Tying up his boat.

An image of the ropes tied both in front and back to other boats

This guy should be on the cover of a magazine.

The boat bumper

The signal

More ropes

Last one of the day.  I bought fish from these guys that afternoon.

The man!!  Looking satisfied with a good days work.

The ones they left behind.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Medical Care and Insurance Coverage in Mexico

Clem and I on the beach after his last cancer treatment

This post is for all the people who would love to come to Mexico but their concerns about receiving quality health care here is holding them back.  Clem and I have quite a history with the health care system in and around the Pescadero area and I wanted to share my experiences.

My husband and I have been visiting and now living in Pescadero for the past five years.  During this time my husband was diagnosed with advanced stage 4 cancer.  After his diagnosis I was suddenly thrust into a position of being his patient advocate and acting on his behalf with both with the American and Mexican health care systems.  

Interestingly my husband’s disease was diagnosed here in Mexico after a year of unsuccessful diagnostic medical visits in the United States in which all his tests were dictated by our insurance company and my husband's age.  In 2008 after a fifteen minute Doctor’s exam in Cabo my 46 year old husband was accurately diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.  The exam which included an ultrasound, blood/stool tests, and a colonoscopy was completed in 48 hours and cost us approximately $1000.00.

In the three and a half years that have followed his diagnosis I have compiled a wealth of knowledge about the medical systems of the two countries.  Many people refuse to move or travel to this amazing country because of their inaccurate fear of poor health care.  We are not those people.   Despite my husband’s condition we sold our home in the United States this year and now live in Pescadero full time.  Recently I experienced the nightmare that all patient advocates fear and I am writing this article to describe my experience for those who may have their own questions or concerns about receiving emergency medical treatment in our area.

My husband is currently recovering from a pretty nasty brain tumor.  The radiation treatments he received in the US have left him with intermittent brain swelling episodes and one of these episodes recently thrust him into a day of  gran mal seizues.   He convulsed for approximately six hours that day.  After an hour of near hysteria on my part I found myself in the company of  Mario Trejo the operations manager at St. Luke’s Hospital in Todos Santos.  Mario is a professional, bi-lingual, kind hearted, man who calmed my worries and took on our case as if I was one of his own family members.  He first assured me that the hospital had a plan for my husband’s care and then lead me through the process of understanding my financial options.  Within a few minutes conversation Mario was on the phone with my US insurance company discussing our situation and getting their approval for payment on our emergency.

That night I found myself camped outside the Intensive care unit in Cabo where the closest neurologist could be located.  Mario, Adrian Gonzale. and the Doctor  rode in the ambulance with us there and handled all the details including providing me with coffee.  For the next three days the St. Luke staff was in and out of the hospital and always just a phone call away. Several times a day Mario talked with the neurologist or the Internist on duty to keep me updated on my husband’s progress.  

I have spent many hours in medical facilities worrying.  First and foremost I have worried over my husband’s health and recovery but as every caretaker has experienced there is also the worry that we will not have the funds to pay for the treatment.  Even though I did not openly speak of this worry Mario knew that this plagued me and everyday he would encourage me and give me the details of his conversation with my insurance company.  After all was said and done I did not pay one single peso for the excellent medical care that my husband received.  I was never pressured to sign anything or asked for my credit card. I simply received excellent health care accompanied with a compassionate and professional business experience.

I know that there are those of you reading this that can’t believe this story and are wondering how this could be.  I wondered this same thing.  We were in an emergency situation and many U. S. insurance companies cover the costs of such events.  The problems that arise usually come from the different types of “insurance/medical coding” between the two countries and Mario at St. Luke’s seems to be an expert in that field.  How lucky we are to have a group of young professionals such as this in our community.

In October of this year my husband received treatment in Tijuana at the Rubio Cancer Center.  He received custom cancer vaccines along with stem cell therapy which has been slowly eradicating his brain tumor.  The treatment was expensive but we got in line with and behind a huge group of people who have been cured of their diseases by Dr. Rubio over the past 30 years.   When Mario found out that I had paid this out of my pocket he VOLUNTEERED to code the services for my insurance company for me.  VOLUNTEERED.

So like I said this post is about spreading the word.  I hope to host an informational meeting with Mario to help others interested in learning more about insurance options available for medical care in Mexico.  Drop me a line here or email me if you are interested in attending.  I am also available to discuss any of the types of cancer therapies that my husband has received here in Mexico.

Surf fishing in Pescadero

Kenny surf fishing on beach 
One of the great things about living in Pescadero is the fresh fish.  Recently I tagged along with Kenny on one of his early morning fishing trips and snapped a few interesting shots of the locals surf fishing, a surfing dog, and a few sweet pics of the sun rising over the Sierra Laguna Mountains.  This beach is a quick walk from the park.

The beach is a colletion of early morning fisherman, dogs, and walkers.  With temperatures averaging mid seventies this time of year it is a beautiful place to be to watch the sun come up.  Some come with their coffee just to enjoy the sound of the surf and the majesty of the area.

Sitting on the beach watching the sun come up 
Dog frolicking on the beach
What I enjoy about this spot on the beach is the 360 degree view.  In the position where I took this photo I can look to the west and see the pacific ocean.  If I turn around and look over my shoulder the Sierra Laguna Mountains make up the horizon.  This is a shot of the sun just peeking out.

I didn't know this woman when I took this photo but since have met her.  We shared a table with her and her husband on Christmas Eve at Felipe's.  Her dog seemed to be having so much fun on the beach that morning and she was the only woman out fishing so they caught my eye.

Lee and Allie fishing and swimming together on the beach

The same happened with this man.  I did not know him when I took this photo but ran into he and his wife Barbara at Baja Beans coffee shop and showed him the photo that I took of his dog Allie swimming in the surf.  Lovely people.  I photographed the dog because she was actually surfing.  These photos do not do this dog's ability justice.

Allie surfing on the beach in Pescadero

This is Allie.  She is quite an old dog but obviously stays in good shape with her daily swims.  I sat and watched her wait for the large waves to roll in and she would literally dive into them and as you can see from this photo surf the wave.  Amazing.
Local fisherman from Punta Lobos

If you don't want to catch your own fish all you have to do around here is drive five minutes over to the next point. Every day around 2:00 the local fisherman come in with their catch and you can buy them right off the boat.  Now is the time for snapper.

Buying fresh fish at Punta Lobos

On this particular day my daughter Stephanie and her husband William were visiting and we picked up four really nice fish for Christmas dinner. We just wrapped them up in foil after stuffing them with fresh organic vegetables and threw them on the grill.  20 minutes later we had dinner.

Hope you enjoyed these photos and this little post about surf fishing in Pescadero.  There is much much more to be said about fishing here.  This is just a little teaser to those of you who love to catch and eat fish.