Play Magic by the Sea of Cortez
There’s something so enchanting about sitting with your feet tucked under the warm sand while a salty aroma passes by with the breeze. Gazing into the eyes of the Sea of Cortez and up at the orange and pink-streaked sky, tasting the tender gifts of the ocean. It’s that unforgettable intimacy between yourself and nature and the people you love most that makes a moment truly special, that grounds you in its fairytale.
For my parents’ 26th anniversary, Chef Guillermo Gomez and his team at Cocina del Mar organized a private dinner on the beach for our family at the Sea Shack, a pop-up kitchen and bar set up earlier that evening for the occasion. When we first arrived at the venue, Guadalupe led us, now barefoot, toward an L-shaped couch in the sand that bordered a small log fire, with glasses of champagne awaiting our arrival on the side tables. Baby empanadas paired perfectly with mango scallops for hors d’oeuvres, which we snacked on while strolling along the sand, our toes gracing the glassy water. As the sun began to set, we gathered for our next family Christmas Card photo; purple waves crashed against Esperanza’s dramatic cliffs in the background, while the sun’s orange glow illuminated our smiling faces.
When all that remained of the sun was a yellow hue shining dimly against the brightening moon, we sat down at a large wooden table for dinner. Hand-crafted, asymmetric glasses layered inside with pink dahlias and sand decorated the table, while fire torches and string lights lit up the menus before us, reading “Happy 26th Anniversary Greg and Julie” in bold letters on the top. Soon, Chef Guillermo placed a long wooden board on the table with small caesar salads clumped sporadically along its length; both the unique aesthetic and the efficiency of the presentation were brilliant. For the entree, our plates brimmed with a combination of chicken, steak, and red snapper, supplemented by the Chef’s traditional chimichurri and mint sauces (my parents’ favorites). Finally, hibiscus-marinated berries cleansed our palates and we relaxed back in our chairs, our stomachs and hearts happy and full. That night, my parents slow-danced beneath a spiderweb of stars while my brothers and I sat in gratified silence around the fire, listening to the quaint murmuring of the sea. The magic in the air was tangible.
On a private beach in Baja, isolated but together, I felt a particular closeness to my family, to the desert land, and to the salty ocean air. After dinner, I laid in bed, smiling, listening to the frogs’ deep bellows in the distance, and felt completely, refreshingly whole. In a deep, contented sleep, I dreamt of my return to the seaside.