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Flashbacks in Baja

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

In Hawaiian culture, the Hi’u Wai is a ceremony held in the morning for the purpose of starting the day with a clear mind. I’ve been very fortunate to make this a somewhat regular part of my life on Kauai through the kindness of my friends Ku’ulei and Kalani, and have participated in ceremonies ranging from just a few of my friends to a couple dozen.

Today was the first one I’ve done on my own – far from the shores of Kauai in the small fishing village of San Filipe on the Baja coast of the Sea of Cortez. Our Hi’u Wai (each one is a little different depending on the Hawaiian practitioner you’re with.) includes a chant to raise the sun from the sea. On my last morning in Kauai I recorded Kalani as he sang this incantation, so that I would have it for moments like today when my mind was swimming at the dawn of a new day.

Sunrise in San Felipe

San Filipe is a pretty special place for me. This is the second time that it is hosting the dawn of a major adventure. This is a place where I started friendships that will last a lifetime. And it’s a place where I ended up almost accidentally both times I’ve been here.

Flashback to February of 2007. I had decided to drive my trusty buy rusty Jeep Wrangler across the country to Baja to give it to a fisherman. (It’s a long story, and you can find some of the blog posts I wrote that are posted over the to DIETAN section of this blog site.). After spending a few weeks adventuring my way across the US, with a few close friends joining me along the way, I crossed the border from San Diego into Tijuana by myself with no plan, no agenda, little money, and a copy of the Lonely Planet guide to Baja as my only real reference material. I was nervous, intimidated, a bit scared, and definitely questioning my sanity at least as much as my friends and family had when I told them about this “plan” back in Virginia.

Within 24 hours I was waking up on a deck overlooking the Sea of Cortez in San Filipe. I’d driven across a desert. I’d made it through military checkpoints. And I’d even worked through a few VERY rudimentary conversations in Spanish. San Filipe is where I started to realize that this whole ridiculous idea might actually work.

Now, 16 years later, I’m waking up in that same palapa deck overlooking that same corner of the Sea of Cortez, and I’m on the cusp of another major adventure. (If you haven’t read the first post in this series – you’ll know more about what I’m talking about if you click over the to GDT 2022 section of this blog site.

"My" palapa camp in San Felipe

This time I’m here with my dear friend Isa and her trusty partner in crime Bruce. Bruce is a very handsome Golden-Doodle who definitely out-ranks me in the hierarchy of this crew. How we ended up here is an example of how beautifully the chaos of the universe conspires to make things happen.

Isa and Bruce takin' it all in

The 5th or 6th iteration of the plan to start our Global Discovery Tour included me leaving Kauai to fly to meet Isa in Phoenix to drive down to Cabo to met my friend Jason for New Years Eve and celebrate the start of our great adventure at Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina. That plan lasted about a week, and we’re now on the 27th or 28th iteration of the plan - which really came together over the last several days.

I thought I was headed to Thailand this week to meet some other wonderful friends of mine (Hopefully you’ll read more about Swami & Kala later in the year). But the Thai government adopted a 10 day arrival quarantine that cancelled those plans. Shortly after that abrupt course change, Isa’s plans to do some paragliding in Utah fell through. A couple of phone conversations and a plane ticket later, the universe brought us together to spend a week driving through Baja before we both continue on with plans and agendas that make most of the people we meet say “Wait… you’re doing WHAT?”

Which brings me back to my palapa where a beautiful day has started and, with the echo of Kalani’s voice in my mind, I’m waiting for one of my very best friends and her pup to wake up so that we can launch forward from this little town and see what the world has in store for us.

I’m feeling that energy again. That moment when confidence and anticipation begin to crest over the nervousness and apprehension. If you’ve ever dropped in to a steep ski run, or a big wave, or given a presentation or performed a monologue on stage, you know what I mean. It’s the moment when you lean in and just GO.


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