As if someone cut the clouds with a knife, I broke free of the clinging fog of June’s coastal climate to find the sun blazing and already hot at 9 am. In search of the sun, I was headed southeast starting from Ensenada into the foothills of Sierra San Pedro Mártir, destination Rancho Meling. Looking forward to a couple of warm days and a starry night, I had set out for the mountains. Rancho Meling is a working cattle ranch that provides the traveler with lodging and meals. Literally you are out in the middle of nowhere. It is the last stop before ascending into the mountains to the National Park and the observatory at the 10,000 foot summit.
It was only a three hour drive from Ensenada, and a perfect three day weekend retreat. Roads are good all the way, except for the mile of dirt road that leads down into the valley to the ranch. Old willow trees shelter the main house with a welcome relief. When I arrived, the wind was brisk and warm making me think about getting into the swimming pool, pronto. Ari, very pretty and very pregnant, greeted me before I even got to door. I practiced my Spanish as she spoke no English and we got through the transaction just fine. There are modest rooms and plenty of shady grass areas for camping. RVs are welcomed...
As one can imagine when visiting an outpost, you have to give up some of the amenities that you cherish. I found the room simple with all that was necessary, except electricity on demand, oops no fan. The bed was comfy. Settled in, I took pen and paper and cold mineral water to the porch. The wind was a presence, causing the Ponderosa and Piñon pines to moan. As I sat down I startled a House finch out of her nest. She was not happy I’d moved into the neighborhood. I settled elsewhere so she could return.
The dinner bell rang promptly at 6pm. The wonderful old rustic dining area was set for just a few ranch guests. Sandy Meling and her daughter, Ari, served us. I was included in a family group whose daughter was having her 14th birthday. There is nothing like getting to know the people who are kind enough to let you live in their country. The meal was a traditional ranch style fare of tender pork chops, mashed potatoes and salad. The family had brought a homemade cake, beautifully plain, no candles. The lovely daughter radiated innocence of a kind I’d never seen. She pulled back her long black hair and prepared to bite the cake. She came away with a big mouthful and everyone was so happy. I will never forget how she was held by each family member to have the pictures taken, how present she was in their affection.
The late afternoon turned into evening. I wondered how I could have forgotten my mosquito spray. I took my book inside and closed the screen door, falling asleep with ease. I woke up surprised. It was really dark. I knew it must be after 10pm as the generator was shut off. While I can’t say I bounded out of bed, I knew this was star time. With no ambient light anywhere this is the perfect place for star gazing. But I was not prepared for what I actually saw. Quite honestly, when I looked up it was with total wonderment at such beauty. It was not a flat sky with twinkle lights, but instead it was blue black space with depth. In this depth were living globes of pulsing light. I was not a separate witness to something “out there.” I experienced being on this planet as part of the Universal sky.
I was up at dawn to watch the changing colors. There was a sweet damp smell of Basin Sage, willow, grass and cows. The morning was full of Bird song, tiny excited tweets, joined with Dove’s wooden flute sounds, the chattering of Starlings were added as a steer bellowed a baritone note. The clouds were aflame as the glow created a halo over the mountains tops. In that moment I was so content. Finally, the sun crowned the hill and birthed another day.
The breakfast bell rang at 8am and I was already packed. I sat with my new friends and told them I was a writer for Baja Bound. The older daughter exclaims, “Oh, escritora!” She was in college to become a doctor and her passion was reading and writing. We found a common love.
As I checked out, I learned that internet and Sky satellite had come to the "outback" only two years ago, I never thought to check. I asked Sandy Meling if it changed her life? She laughed, "No I have too much work to do." But she did say that it was good to connect to family in this new way. Earlier, I had read the Meling’s guest book and found that David from Indiana wrote it best: "As every new mile unfolds before us, peace and beauty keep finding us at every stop. I don’t think we have ever come across people with more giving hearts than those who call the Baja home."
Visit the Rancho Meling website
Martina's email: mteomaya(at)gmail.com