The current blog has been composed to represent the year as a whole, not the seasonal approach that I will resume next go-around. For two reasons, the Covid pandemic and the declining water levels in the Presa Allende, the scope of our usual activities has been greatly diminished, although not at the expense of having some fun. On the contrary, we had a blast. While we rejoiced in our weekly paddles, unfortunately, most people sat locked up in their casas! Yes, it could be said that this was a year of holding down the fort, month after month offering little more than “a bit of the same.” Indeed, Amigos make a great go of things. Foremost, our attention was directed at being safe as a group. Thus, it became sport to up the ante, donning our designer masks, like my lizard-covered beauty crafted by Stella. Somehow, she found a new-fangled desire to get out the sewing machine as well as baking some fine bread. Once we were on the water, we rid ourselves of facemasks ad enjoyed our sense of facial nakedness. Like spring colts, we managed to navigate some weekly quality time on the water. With the city in nearly complete shutdown mode this year, our Wednesday gatherings provided peace of mind and some needed physical recreation for all of us. But it wasn’t easy to make it happen without some modifications to our normal agendas. Early on it became necessary to scuttle the boathouse (temporarily we hope) as the nearest shoreline, now a mile away, continued its creep south with each passing month. The best solution, it seemed, was to store the kayaks at our homes, enabling us quicker access to the new launch site in Pantoja/Flores de Begona. It has proven to be a good second home for us for now. We adopted the concept of thinking “south” because, in fact, that was the only direction that we could go to. From Otomi to Los Frailes, only a trickle of water remained to be seen. So, frequent trips to the “sunken church” and nearby dam became our new favorites, with side adventures to many of the local bays providing interesting, unexplored territory to most of us.

The local bird life was also adapting to the many changes in the topography around the Rio Laja watershed. As water evaporated, pastures appeared in the footprint of the lake followed by tall grass and flowers resulting in a different mix of birds. Large sightings of Roseate Spoonbills, groups of herons and other birds of prey found their way onto our new playground. The cormorants, egrets and pelicans continued to hang around with no complaints.

The opportunity to take large groups out for paddles has been a challenge this year due to the pandemic and lower water levels. However, we managed to share the boats between our guides while adding a few paying customers as well.

With summer upon us now, train is falling as scheduled and the water levels are increasing. If all goes well, we might just be lucky enough to be back in the boat-house by Fall. Fingers crossed.

Geoff Nilsen