Tag Archives: Santa Cruz

Travel Day: Santa Cruz, California to Mexico City

This was an experiment. It seemed easy enough and the cost was far less: take a Southwest Airlines (WNA) flight from San Jose (SJC), California. Connect in Orange County (SNA) and fly directly from there to Mexico City. Arrive in time for an afternoon nap and settle in. Easy.

Santa Cruz Pier & Amusement ParkExcept that even by arriving at the airport by 5 a.m., the hour-and-a-half line to get through security meant that I missed my flight by two minutes. Along with about 40 other people. We stood in another line for an hour to get rebooked. And, with few options, I have a six-hour delay plus the hop-hop-hop flight plan that Southwest is famous for, going first to Las Vegas, then Houston, then Mexico City.  Ah, the vagaries of travel during peak season (after Thanksgiving) wtih a high security alert on top of that.


So, here’s the good news. I’m in the SJC airport editing photographs that I took on my new mirrorless Olympus OMD M5 Mark II camera in Santa Cruz. It weighs a fraction of my Nikon D7000 when I use the 17-55mm Nikkor lens, which is a big plus! I did a lot of research before I bought this one, so here is hoping.


The verdict is still out on whether the photo quality matches up. But, I’m inclined to consider that the convenience could outweigh any negatives.  I’m still learning the settings, so we shall see.


This post includes experimental photos I took with my sister and son in Santa Cruz on West Cliff Drive overlooking the famous area where surfers, runners and strollers convene. The perfect beach life, even at the end of November.

This was a great last day in California, perfect for focusing out onto the horizon.


View of Monterey Bay from West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, California


Sunrise From New Mexico and California Berries

On a pre-dawn Wednesday this week, I was on a plane from Albuquerque to Denver with a connection to San Francisco. It was dark at take-off. The lights of the city sparkled against the black desert that met obscure sky. On the vast horizon I could see shapes of mountains and the lights of Santa Fe.


Then, the eastern sky began to explode in color after the first sliver of orange cast a magic glow on the clouds. I realized I was grateful for the three-thirty morning wake-up so I could get to see this.

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Mexico is ever-present in New Mexico. The tales of conquest, weaving culture, adobe homesteads, Native American art and crafts, and blue corn are integrated into the physical and historical landscape. It is easy to transition from one place to the other. Both are conducive to a more relaxed lifestyle and many of my Santa Fe friends spent lots of time in Oaxaca, especially in winter.

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I’m here in Santa Cruz, California, now for one of my regular visits with my 98-year-old mother, sister and brother-in-law. California is another place where Spanish and then Mexican life prevailed before becoming a U.S. territory then state.

As Barbara and I approached and drove beyond San Juan Bautista and the historic mission yesterday, we passed fields of farm workers tending the fruit and vegetables we eat. Are they undocumented?  Likely. They harvest Driscoll strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and other brands we know from our supermarket shelves.

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Acres of red and green lettuces, and chard are laid out like a Mondrian painting. The workers kneel toward earth as if in prayer, just like in Mexico.  Their heads are covered, their bodies shielded from sun by long sleeve shirts. Some rise, stretch arms skyward, taking a break from back-breaking picking. Here the land is more fertile and the pay is better.  Eight thousand dollars a year is a lot in Mexico. Signs along the California 156 shout out Trabajo Disponible — work available. This is not a job for sissies.

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We were on our way to see Dr. Paul, an orthopedic surgeon, to examine my bad right knee, hurting since early July when I did too many dancing twists at a Best of the Beatles party in Teotitlan del Valle. Difficult for sustained walking. No broken bones, but after a cortisone injection and not much relief,  I’m considering a postponement of a year-in-the-planning trip to Barcelona with a September 16 departure.

Should I go it alone now or wait until spring and travel with my sister?  What do you think? And, why?

Frida Kahlo Food Fest This Weekend at Tortilla Flats, Soquel, California

Mexican food at its finest!

Tomorrow I’m flying to Santa Cruz, California to visit family.  My sister just sent me notice of a grand fiesta in her neighborhood and I intend to check it out and see if I can conjure up the recipes to post.  Maybe between swallows, I’ll be able to take a few photos of the intact dish before starting to gobble, gobble.

California is about as close to Mexico as one can get without crossing the border so I feel justified in including this here!  I can’t wait to get there to sample these incredible dishes.

Notice from Tortilla Flats proprietress Cheryl Marquez:

Frida’s Favorites are back at Tortilla Flats. Starting Thursday and continuing through Sunday the recipes of Frida Kahlo will be featured. Frida’s role as wife to the great muralist Diego Rivera included that of hostess to their many friends and admirers. She loved to prepare meals, the presentation as well as taste were important to her. In accordance with her and Diego’s Marxist beliefs, their meals relied on traditional recipes. Much of her knowledge came from her favorite cookbook Nuevo Cocinero Mejicano the equivalent of this country’s Fanny Farmer or Good Housekeeping. Below is our Menu.

Tortilla Flats is Located at 4616 Soquel Drive in the village of Soquel. Open from 11:30 until closing seven days a week.   Reservations are accepted for parties of six or more only. Directions are available at our website.   Contact us at 831-476-1754


Fresh picked squash blossoms, mushrooms and Oaxaca cheese in handmade crepes with aji limo sauce. (Organic from Yerena Farms)


Beautiful presentation of baked basa and eastern scallops served in scallop shells with lobster saffron cream sauce.


Deep, rich peanut and chipotle mole served with chicken


Tender pork carnitas steamed in a banana leaf, served with achiote pepper sauce


Mexican style meatballs in a spicy chipotle sauce, served with fried plantains and beans.


Literally “tablecloth strainer”. Fragrant with roasted ancho, pasilla and chipotle chiles. It draws it’s sweetness from plantains, raisins, figs, mangoes and pineapple. Served with pork carnitas.


Wild caught salmon served in handmade Spanish smoked paprika crepes with chipotle cream sauce.


Made with fresh corn, New Mexico hatch chile and cheese. Served with Santa Fe green sauce.


Grilled jumbo Prawns with prickley pear lime sauce.


Nopales paddles in fluffy egg batter, pan fried and covered with Oaxaca cheese and poblano sauce.


Carnitas in rich tomatillo sauce with cactus strips.


Fresh, wild caught red snapper pan fried, served with traditional vera cruz tomato, caper sauce.


Pumpkin pie tamale. All the flavors of fresh pumpkin pie served with house made caramel sauce and ice cream.


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