Baja California has elements of both the sublime and the grotesque. Raw blue skies, dainty mollusks, the solemn whistle of the wind over the sand--these are balanced by sea monsters with exotic defense mechanisms, by shearing wind storms, by the middens left over from human endeavor.
Robin Carey set out in a kayak to explore Baja's east coast. His descriptions of discovery are poetic and revelatory, as he travels first with his twentyoneyearold son, then with his wife, and finally solo. Scenes and events, encounters with Baja villagers, fishermen, and gringo tourists all elicit diverse memories, from those of timefogged college antics to the forces at work in a Shakespearean drama. Selfdiscovery is the product of selftesting and of success in outwitting danger or unexpected events: spearing a fish, rolling a kayak, assembling a coherent phrase of words foreign to the tongue.
Carey paddled between solitude and society, thinking of others who had visited these remote shores. He relates the legends that the Spaniards learned during their stay, as well as the myths they left behind. There have been other visitors--hunters of pearls, otter pelts, and vitamin-rich shark livers, and now there are yanquis who come to Baja seeking an escape from one reality to another, one not quite so "real" to them.
With grace and insight, Carey makes the kayak his cathedraa seat of knowledge that is available to those with unveiled respect for nature and its phenomena.