I was blessed enough to be able to go on a Carnival cruise with my family a few weekends ago. On the Carnival Inspiration, we had a variety of different activities and foods open to us. The pool, a buffet, a casino, two restaurants – just to name a few. Yet, over the three days that we spent on the boat, I found myself becoming restless. The boat is advertised to be the destination for one of the best times of our lives but it quickly became boring. By quickly, I mean by the third hour of the first day. The food was mediocre at best, the pool was tiny and crowded with children, and everything else….well, I don’t gamble, can’t order drinks and don’t gym so I had very limited options for entertainment. The only fun I had was between the hours of 10PM-3AM, the club (and the people inside of it) made the trip completely worth it. If you know the stories of what happened in those late late hours, then consider yourself one of the lucky few!
I only spent six hours in actual Ensenada but it was enough for me to see glimpses of the struggling citizens, the beautiful history as well as the potential for something more. First, we visited La Bufadora, which is a street lined with shops selling faux high fashion items, pharmacies requiring no prescription for purchases and children wandering around with plates of churro or yogurt samples hoping to gain a customer. The oil splattered in large vats, the smoke from grills created a cloud around the stalls and there was an ever lingering smell of cooked seafood, tequila and corn tortillas. It was overwhelming but so organized at the same time. I felt like there was an unspoken rhythm to everything there.
We spent a few hours at the market and tried our fair share of oysters, pina coladas, fish tacos and browsed around the shops where we bought a beautiful handmade clay pot. The hectic atmosphere as well as the obvious desperation of the citizens was eye-opening. While I was on the cruise and complaining about how the unlimited food was mediocre at best and grumbling about how the margarita ice was not fine enough, these children were trying desperately to lure customers to their family’s booths to get enough money to get through the week.
In a somewhat somber and pensive mood, I looked out of the window of the bus for our hour drive back into the city. We drove along the coast most of the time, where we could see the rings used to catch blue fin tuna into the ocean, the wealthy homes near the shoreline and the influx of worn down vehicles climbing the mountain. On the drive, Beba our tour guide, described how it would take only $1000 a month for someone to live comfortably with money for leisure items and money in savings. I thought about what $1000 would buy in California. It would potentially pay for rent but not food, gas, utilities or extra purchases let alone money for leisure and savings. It’s so much more expensive to live in California but yet my family has given me a home, food, gas, utilities, leisure and savings for my entire life so far. It’s incredibly humbling to think about how tirelessly my parents work to make sure that I have everything I could need and want.
Next, we visited Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. While the rest of my tour bus curiously poked their heads between the pews and loudly whispered breaking the silence of the hushed worshipers, I found myself folding my hands together and bowing my head in prayer. Religion has always had a special place in my heart. Maybe not so much religion but perhaps a better word for it would be faith. Faith in something bigger than oneself. According to the Thai Soccer team that was stuck in the cave, it was faith that brought them out alive. So seeing congregations of people, declaring their faith to God and coming out in their cleanest clothes and purest intentions despite the tainted and impure world around them, gave me a moment of clarity my own life. Although this year has been difficult to handle emotionally, it is with my faith that my heart can find its solace. It is with my faith that I can find strength and hold steadfast onto it. It is with my faith that I can find a reason to come out on the other side of trials stronger than before.
As our last activity in Ensenada, we went to several wineries and city stops where we could taste tequilas, margaritas, wines, and beers to our heart’s delight. Wine tasting has quickly become one of my favorite things to do. It’s crazy how different grapes can taste when they’re put through different wine making processes.
Though it was a strangely emotional six hours, it was nice to be off the cruise ship for at least a little while. With just six hours, it seems like I’ve seen and done all the things in Ensenada that I would have liked to do. Let me know if there’s anything that I’ve missed! Maybe then I’ll consider coming back for another visit! Thanks for such a great tour, Beba and thank you for your beautiful culture, Ensenada.