Shortly after we were married on June 28, 1986, my wife and I met some friends, Jack and Cheryl French, who had a vacation home they allowed us to use one summer. The house was located south of the border in Rosarito Beach, which is half way between Ensenada and Tijuana, Mexico, and is a popular vacation destination. It is known for its golf courses, fishing, arts and craft vendors, and boating.

The restaurants are also fantastic, with a wider variety of Mexican food and drinks than Mexican restaurants just across the border in San Diego. And the best part is the cost. Before heading to the house we had been allowed to use, we stopped at a restaurant and were surprised when we ordered lobster dinners at the Calafia Restaurant for only $7 each.

Sitting in the seaside restaurant, we were surrounded by the sounds of Spanish guitar music and heavy surf. And as we looked through the large windows facing toward the ocean, we saw white Morocco-style buildings, older structures that looked like small pink castles. Higher up on the steep sea cliffs were some modern high-rises and various size private houses, which the one we were staying in was part of.

After our dinners we headed to the sea cliff house. We were tired from our trip, and because it was now turning dark, we decided to unpack our things and turn-in. We wanted to rise early and go to the part of town where the arts and crafts vendors were.

It was about 7 a.m. when we arose and the sun had just begun to light up the shoreline and waves crashing against it. We had no intention of making our own breakfast, since we had decided to try the breakfast menu at the Calafia restaurant. So after taking our showers and preparing for the day, and while I made us a cup of coffee, my wife, Melissa, sat down on a window seat that had a great view of the ocean and surrounding area.

Within a couple of minutes she shouted, “I think there’s a boat on fire out there,” as she pointed to a spot quite a ways out in the ocean.

I hurried to the window, but didn’t have my glasses on and wasn’t able to see what she thought was “a boat on fire.” I suddenly noticed a telescope standing to the side of the window and decided to use it in order to try and see what she was seeing. When I discovered what it was she was seeing, I began to laugh and told her to take a look through the telescope. She looked at me as she said “What?” And when she realized what it was she said, “A whale?”

The whale was spouting a lot of water through what is called its “blow hole.”

So after the exciting start to our day we headed to the Calafia restaurant. Melissa ordered her favorite huevos rancheros breakfast, which was $3.50, and I had machaca con huevos (shredded beef and eggs) for $4.50. We noticed that there were a few diners sitting on a patio on the ocean side of the restaurant. We asked if there was a place we could sit outside and the waiter said, “Yes, We call it the whale-watching terrace.

So between more spouting whales, also referred to as “boats on fire,” and listening to piped-out mariachi music, waiter and waitresses were serving and setting up more tables for the expected large weekend crowd.

And by the way, even though the house we were staying in had a fabulous kitchen overlooking a very scenic cliff, we had several more meals during the weekend at the Calafia.

When we arrived at the arts and crafts vendors’ area there were long lines of norteamericanos everywhere. We spent a couple of hours visiting most all vendors and trying some rare Mexican treats, which were several of the items we bought that weekend.

My idea of a beach vacation includes swimming in a scenic uncrowded ocean and going for quiet walks along the beach. And before we left Rosarito Beach we headed a few miles further south where we had been told that there was a nice quiet scenic beach.

We were glad we experienced the quieter beach, because even though it reminded us of what Melissa referred to as “a Disneylandish place,” it was only scenic with what seemed to be thousands of little balconies, porches, terraces, nooks and crannies set into a beautiful and memorable rocky sea cliff.

As my wife, Melissa, and me are nearing our 33rd anniversary, I wish we could return physically to that memory, but just hearing the echoes of that wonderful experience brings joy to my heart.

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