You can see mainland Baja California Sur from the eastern harbor area on Isla Natividad. It’s a little hazy but it’s over there. And off the northern end, past the light house, you see Isla Cedros. So, why does this little island feel so remote?
Isla Natividad only has 400 or so inhabitants. It actually reminds me quite a bit of the northern end of Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles County. And geologically, that makes sense, too. They are essentially the same terrain and the same ocean surrounds them. There is even a tourist office here. It turns out the island gets a pretty good south swell and so surfers come here to stay, camp, and surf.
The view around the island is breathtaking, if the island itself is much less so. It’s interesting in its own way, but it’s mostly a dusty, windswept little spit of dirt and rock. That changes, though, where the water meets the land. The tidal pools are fantastic and so are the rock reefs. You can see patches of giant kelp all around the island and the beaches on the Western side are stunning.
There are no cell towers here on the island. The only one close by is on Cedros, but to get a signal from there, we have to walk up the hill behind the house, steep and treacherous. That’s just not happening after dark.
The fresh water seems to be pretty good, and it should be, since it is created in a desalination station here on the island. The electricity here comes from four huge diesel-powered generators. Because of that, electricity is only on for 18 hours a day. It goes off at midnight and comes back on around 6 am. The limited lighting at night, though, makes for some spectacular night skies.
Internet is available on the island, but not as wifi. You have to connect through an ethernet, which is fine, but just not nearly as convenient as I am used to. Yes, I realize that means I am spoiled. But it also makes it a bit harder to stay in touch and up to date with what is going on. I have to move around, talk to people and do my job, making it difficult to stay plugged in.
We’ve been eating entirely too well. There aren’t any real “restaurants” on the island, but a couple different ladies have their homes set up to cook meals with their living rooms turned into dining rooms for others on the island. Mary arranged for us to eat our lunches and dinners with Maria. After every meal as we have walked back up our little hill struggling to make it to the top with bellies full of Mexican-style seafood, we have sworn not to eat as much again. And then comes the next meal.
Something very gratifying to see, and in direct comparison to last month’s trip to Puerto Lempira, Honduras, the locals understand the need to protect their environment above and below the water. They have a recycling program here on the island where they bundle up paper, cardboard and plastic and take it to the station in Ensenada. They do admit that it hasn’t always been this clean. On the other hand, the strange thing we see all over the places, seriously, are fish spines occasionally with heads still attached. The general working theory is the fish have been caught and cleaned and disposed of, but then the sea birds find them and carry them off, leaving them wherever they please when they are done with them. It’s just a little creepy to be walking along and suddenly step over a dried up skeleton.
There is a library on the island, as well as a school for the elementary-aged kids. They are out for the summer and they just wander around everywhere, dropping into the offices to see their parents at work creating a real family atmosphere.
And ultimately, that is the point of this little place. They are very tight-knit, like a family. When one is hurt, they all pull together and do what they can to help. They work together and even when there is a dispute or a disagreement or contested election of the cooperative leaders, they say afterward they get together, have a party and are close friends again. Just like a family..