El Nogalito

 

El Nogalito is a cluster of new-ageish businesses in a wilderness area about 20 minutes south of town.  There’s a vegetarian restaurant, massage therapy, and expensive guided nature hikes. Took a taxi, arriving around noon. The rules of the road are much like NYC: ignore all signs, lanes and laws, insert yourself wherever there’s a hole, and go with the flow. And never drive more than half a car length behind the person in front.  We passed an agricultural checkpoint for clippings that might bear red cochineal.  The restriction, a sign gravely informed us, applied to both driver and passengers alike.

 

View from the Restaraunt

 

This looks a lot like the area I grew up in before development inverted the Earth, putting the tar and volatile hydrocarbons on top, and the topsoil underneath.  Made me mad. I’m starting to view Orange County as a bunch of squatters with mortgages.

 

Asked the waiter where to arrange the guided hike.  He misunderstood my question and directed me to the trailhead. So I was able to hike for free and in blissful solitude. The trail lead up the hill along a stream. Got chewed up by mosquitoes in the middle of the day, so the Malarone was a good idea, Dr. Sohini.

 

 

Geodesic tent

Would have liked to meet whoever lives here.

 

I passed a scout troop. No drab green here—the boys wear turquoise shirts, the girls saffron. Also passed a couple families on outings. Found myself following a Latin convention I’d forgotten—nod to the bull, don’t acknowledge the cows.

 

There was wild coffee growing along the banks—or maybe it was wild chocolate, the berries looked like coffee but were elongated. Maybe there were both, and I’d truly discovered paradise. This is where I turned around and started scrambling back down.

 

Back at the base, the new age lady offered to call a taxi.  She gave me a tour of the facilities, and a bottle of water.  I asked her how much it cost, and she waved me away, so I said “Dios le pagará” (we were doing this in Spanish.) She went into the office, came back and said a taxi would arrive in an hour.  Having nothing to do today but smile, I sat down and waited.  Ten minutes later came a news flash: No, there were no taxis available.  But 18 year old Alejandro could take me back on his motocicleta for a propina. I’d noticed the bike.  It was a 500cc that just came up to my knees.  I know from experience (I refuse to say with whom!) how hard a bike is to control with an oversize passenger.  Plus, there was a mile of washboard dirt ahead, then the cobblestone streets of the city.

 

So I asked her to call the hotel, where taxis always clogged the side streets queuing up.  Nope, no taxis at the hotel. Funny how she was having all these conversations with an open office door and I never heard a sound.  She must have been whispering. But there was a car now, and Alejandro would drive me back for $30, an absurd price. I asked her how much that was in pesos, and the price dropped to the equivalent of taxi plus tip.  Fair enough.

 

When we got back, I told Alejandro, “Tengo tambien un motocicleta, y yo se es deficil manejar con parajero grandepor yo.  No por Ud.”  That got my biggest laugh of the day.  (“I have a bike too, and I know how hard it is to drive with a big passenger.  For me.  Not for you, of course.”)

 

Now.  Considering that the free water was to soften me up for a scam, that “Dios le pagará(“God will repay you”, the classic beggar’s line) becomes rather ominous, wouldn’t you say?