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By Susan A Mahalick
June 24, 2012 (Baja, California) -- Picture this if you will: views of the Pacific Ocean;  a river leading into an estuary emptying into the ocean, flanked by hills in a beautiful valley that houses about two thousand souls. Add to that the view of the village itself.
In order to enjoy all this beauty I have floor to ceiling windows on three sides. The only drawback is that the geography includes high winds much of the time from either the ocean or the desert. Mostly from the ocean, but I have observed the windows slightly bowing in high Santa Ana winds. When you understand that glass is really a liquid that is temporarily solidified, this makes more sense. They are good windows, but when the winds are that high I grab the cats and move into the bedroom for the duration until the winds die down, just in case.
The trees are all short close to the river. The river is lined with grasses that feed nearby horses, goats and sheep. The water is mostly brown and muddy looking, except for when it mirrors the sky and appears blue. The occasional free range cow wanders into this river basin and lows as if lonely and lost.
I see black raptors gliding along searching for food in pairs or threesomes every day early in the morning and evening. Sometimes I see a white raptor called a kite, which is an eagle. Got its name from hovering over the landscape looking for prey rather than gliding. I get out the binoculars when they appear as they are wondrous to observe and very pretty with their small white heads, ringed by black neckbands and white bodies.
At night I can hear the somewhat distant roar of the waves crashing on a wide sandy beach. The sound of what I call “yonder” dogs, which means they are not close enough to be troublesome. I seem to be able to screen out the sound most of the time from the trucks that go around the local curves using jake brakes, with air pressure, to slow down. The roosters I find crow whenever they wish instead of just at daybreak.
I moved to this top of a hill in La Misión two years and three months ago from the north end of Rosarito. It is now 2012. I used to live in Baja del Mar, a community of about 100 homes so that crossing the border 5 days a week would be reasonable.
I went from a beach side community close to downtown Rosarito, with approximately three hundred square feet of living space for two hundred dollars a month to La Misión, seventeen miles south. Midway between Rosarito and Ensenada. Now I have about five hundred square feet of living space for three hundred a month. My utilities are a flat twenty dollars a month. My landlord has realized I am indeed frugal with resources, unlike many Americans who move here from California. His name is Zapata.
Zapata built all three structures, one for his family. The one I occupy with a domed ceiling topped off by stained glass. There is an apartment below me that is the same size I have not yet seen.
Zapata is a master builder in my opinion. Everything is snug and not a crack appears anywhere. All are built on bedrock which keeps the structures from shifting. He started out carrying everything up this hill in his pockets as he did not own a car. Then he bought a donkey and his neighbor, Gaspar, helped him bring here from Ensenada. The burro was named Tiburcio. He would carry up the blocks for the foundation and structure of his home. It took twelve hundred blocks to build it. The other structure was much easier as by then he had a vehicle.
He lives with his wife, Mireya and their baby, Ingrid. We are all quiet and respectful up here on this amazing hill in La Misión.

Where I am lucky to live. 



Pena Nieto is set to become nation's next President, according to preliminary vote count. Election draws voters from U.S.: Mexicans in Southern California travel to Tijuana to cast ballots.

La Mision, in Baja California

Susan, what a beautiful story! I have been to the area a number of times, and I marvel at the beauty and tranquility of the area. I am looking forward to writing a review of your book.