Thursday, March 24, 2011

Son, friends and strangers

The trip was a success allowing my son to experience Baja as I know it.  

Once a month you’ll find the members of our family en masse at our home in Lake Elsinore…eighteen or nineteen of us enjoying our closeness as we celebrate holidays and birthdays together.  But because we all have busy lives, it’s not often that I have an opportunity to hang out and have some extended one-on-one face time with our children.

A seasoned Baja traveler, our son Geoff announced that he had some vacation time that he would like to share, and a Baja adventure was in the making for the two of us. The plan: he would fly to Loreto, hookup with me in Lopez Mateos where I would have arrived earlier to fish with clients and Lance Peterson, long time Baja on the Fly guide; we would spend a few days exploring the bay together and then Geoff and I would wander around southern Baja for a week.

I had already briefly encountered the Taco Stand dog, by the time Geoff arrived, but she had promptly disappeared. So he and I headed to the Stand only to be disappointed to learn that she was still missing.  As we mapped out the next day's outing during dinner, we were frequently interrupted by locals stopping by to report their latest white dog sightings.  

The following morning we launched the 17’ Bass Tracker and sped South, planning to do more exploring than fishing. The three of us savored the excitement of the unknown as we idled over a shallow sandbar through a narrow mangroved-lined channel, barely wider than the boat.

Startled birds squawked as we entered. Several bends later the channel widened, and still we continued. We could hear the sounds of the faraway surf mingled with the splashes of fish jumping and we found ourselves speaking in hushed tones as the channel revealed herself. We stopped occasionally at deeper holes to sample the fishing before moving on.

For several days we explored, carefully marking the GPS waypoints of the most promising channels for future fishing trips, many of which continued a mile or two beyond the entrance. Not once during our exploration did we see other boats. The only memorable local we saw was a snake that was slowly swimming across the channel but when startled by the motor noise, quickly darted up on a mangrove branch to get a better look.

Tired of Taco-stand fare,  Geoff and I drove down to La Paz to visit our friends, Jonathan and Jilly Roldan and enjoy a fantastic wahoo dinner at their Tailhunter Restaurant. It was late afternoon when we arrived, and we were dazzled by the signature sunset from their balcony as we sipped their frosty margaritas. 

Arriving back at the compound mid-afternoon, our luck had changed, and my friend Elsa, owner of The Taco Stand, brought me the small, dirty white dog…which I immediately named Sũerte.

Then I received a call from Yvonne; my Mother had fallen. Geoff and I decided to head home at gray light the following morning. After a long day on the road after sunset, we found ourselves south of El Rosario in a construction zone pushing to make it into town before dark, when the right rear wheel slipped off the edge of the road. Only a few miles outside of town, the inner side wall was damaged causing a blowout.

As we surveyed the damage with flashlights, an older pickup heading south slowed and rumbled to a stop. Two wiry Mexican farmers jumped out of the truck.  After a few questions, they had surveyed the situation and the driver had quickly spun his ramshackle pickup around so the headlights shone on the rear of the Roadtrek. Then he seized the jack and began positioning it beneath the axle, while his sidekick grabbed the lug wrench. As the sidekick loosened the lug nuts, he explained they were on their way back to their onion farm on the other side of the arroyo.  They refused to let me help.

They were soon finished and were saying adios. I offered to pay. Politely they refused. Finally, I thrust a couple of bills in the driver’s hand and suggested that he could buy Cerveza. With a big grin and a tip of his sombrero, he took the money, motioned to his sidekick and they both jumped back in their pickup. Heading back to the Cantina for a final--final, I suppose.

The trip was a success allowing my son to experience Baja as I know it.