I'm floating facedown in 82-degree water, wearing swim trunks and snorkel gear, watching colorful fish I can't name and wondering when the next curious sea lion pup will come nose-to-nose with this begoggled stranger.
From a distance, the water in which my friends and I are splashing is azure. Up close and half submerged, as I am, it is gin clear. Near the bottom, about 20 feet down, are scores of small fish, some camouflaged to match the rocks and sand and escape the roaming eyes of bigger, hungry fish. Others are decorated with come-get-me flashes of color.
Far above, the sky is summer blue and the air temperature is 90 degrees, although it's
winter here, and the north breeze is light and refreshing.
This is life in Mexico's Sea of Cortez, just offshore of Los Islotes, a group of large, red rocks spectacularly sculpted by sea and wind and stained white by thousands of generations of seabirds. Dozens of California sea lions are ashore, honking, grunting, barking, creating offensive odors, and keeping a close eye on us.
This delightful place is reached only by boat. Getting here, either by power or sail, can be adventuresome, exciting, some-times frightening, and even risky, considering the vast expanse of Pacific Ocean that must be crossed. Many cruisers accept the challenge simply because the rewards are worth it.