Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Baja Boondoggle

Years ago I was short listed for a process consulting job in Hawaii. That's right, an expense-paid trip (in February as I recall) to a tropical paradise where I'd get paid to be there. Sadly, I had a scheduling conflict (a prior commitment to work in Colorado, I think) and had to take my name out of consideration. Sigh. I always figured that would be one of the ways to tell that I'd "made it" as a consultant, getting gigs like that.

Well, a week from Wednesday I'll be flying to San José del Cabo, at the southern tip of Baja California for two days of paid work with a forming community called Lumbini Gardens. It's fun just telling people about it.

I was in Baja California only once before, back in 1990 when visiting Krutsio, a small income-sharing community on the Pacific Coast near Guerrero Negro. It was isolated and breathtakingly beautiful. Although it was sering hot desert just a short distance inland, right
next to the ocean there was always a cool onshore breeze that kept tempratures in the 50s at night and in the 70s during the day. Krutsio produced all the water they needed (which included gardening) with solar desalination, and their power came from solar panels and a wind turbine. While the productivity of the land was meager, the pristine tidal zone was teeming with edibles—including such delicacies as abalone and nori—and the fish was never fresher.

Where I'm going in December will be different. It's a developed area awash with American ex-pats, where land prices have quadrupled in the last five years. Although the beachfront will not be wild, my fondest wish is to see whales (several species winter in the Gulf of California, including sperm, blue, fin, grey, and humpbacks). I'll have to get lucky for that to happen however, as I fly in Wed and depart Sunday (to catch a train that afternoon to my next gig in Asheville NC, where I'll be teaching facilitation with my wife Ma'ikwe and staying with my daughter Jo). Most of the time I won't be walking the beach casting hopeful glances into the Sea of Cortez. Rather, I'll be in meetings, trying to help the group sort out interpersonal dynamics and discuss the future of their project.

I've spoken with most of the members by phone in preparation for the meetings, and am optimistic about a positive outcome. For one thing, there will only be about a dozen people attending (smaller numbers=fewer permutations). For another, all share a Buddhist Dzogchen practice and accept Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche as their spiritual guide (it tends to be easier helping groups through rough spots when everyone drinks from the same well and has already embraced the notion that self-examination is worthwhile).

Although the work isn't until Dec 5-6, I start my journey this evening, boarding the Southwest Chief in La Plata MO, westbound for Las Vegas, where I'll arrive in the wee hours of Thanksgiving. There I'll have six days with my son Ceilee, his wife Tosca, my seven-month-old granddaughter Taivyn, and my favorite dog in the whole world, Zeus. The timing of the Baja work is such that I can combine it with a visit with my son and his family (encompassing a precious four-day weekend) at no extra cost.

All together, I'll be gone Nov 25-Dec 20. While that's a long stretch, I'll be visiting both of my kids as bookends to the trip, with back-to-back paid weekends in the middle (and did I mention the overnight stay that Ma'ikwe and I will have in New Orleans when we exchange seats on the eastbound Sunset Limited for ones on the northbound Crescent, as we amble along the southern US en route from Los Angeles to Charlotte?).

While I still can't tell whether I've "made it" as a process consultant, I have a pretty wonderful life, and am having a whale of time in the process, whether it actually involves humpbacks or not.

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