(Click here to Return to Day 1)
Punta Santa Rosaliita, BC > Guerrero Negro, BCS
Monday, August 29th:
How pleasantly surprised am I to crawl out of my tent, just after sunrise, to behold… the ocean! I mean, like- right there in front of me, not a hundred yards away! This shouldn’t be such news to me, seeing as how I deliberately set off westward from the highway late last night, specifically seeking for the ocean, which I knew was not even 15 miles away; but somehow it is. That’s on me.
I crawl out and stand on a wide curving beach, rubbing my eyes with the palms of sandy hands, and ponder on just how we could have possibly not noticed the ocean- of all things- when we settled in to go to sleep just a handful of hours ago. We just figured we’d stumbled upon a little village amid the dunes; but we had no idea that we’d actually reached a bona fide coastal community, nestled peacefully along the shore of a calm, quiet, well-sheltered bay.
Not so much as a lapping wave can be heard, though I can now smell the ocean, faintly. Looking out across the glass-smooth placidity of Bahia Santa Rosalillita, I find myself contemplating the weather, and this leads me to wondering what happened with that massive hurricane everyone had been raving about for the past several days. The last time I heard a news report- yesterday morning at that grocery store in Ensenada- the storm’s arrival on the Gulf Coast was imminent. It was supposed to be a big one, too.
As I turn my gaze back inland, I am startled to see, several hundred yards away, and coming from the direction of the little village, two men, and about eight or nine dogs, making their way towards our slapped-together beach camp.
Dog Day Morning
Oh what the fuck is this? I speak Chalk’s name to see if he is awake. He is. I give him the news, and he emerges from his tent to see for himself.
Yep- no doubt about it, they’re coming this way. Shit. Are we trespassing or something? Or even worse, have we wandered outside the boundaries of “civilized” Mexico, into the lawless hinterlands?
But of course we have! First of all, that has been our goal all along- to escape the world of the American experience; and second of all, that’s what Baja Mexico is– lawless hinterlands, whether it suits our agenda or not.
Chalk demands that we grab our tents, throw them in the car, and peel out of here before we’re made into human piñatas, or re-purposed as morning grist for the sport of rogue and pitiless hounds, and their bloodless, sociopathic human handlers. I don’t exactly disagree. I throw my shit in the car.
I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke
Hi buddies! Good boys!
The friendly dogs dance enthusiastic jigs around my legs as if their common goal is to tie me up with invisible twine. But somehow I manage to wriggle out of it. My body is assailed by furiously wagging tails; they swat and hammer their message of goodwill all over my legs. Then a shrill whistle pierces the salty air, and the dogs are gone- all tearing off back towards the two men, who I can now see are holding fishing gear. The men wave a morning hello which is utterly devoid of any negative energy, and continue on towards their fishing spot. I wave back and say “Hola!”, as my mental images of being callously shot to death on a remote foreign playa are flushed from my brain like water down a drain, and replaced with reckless optimism for the future of mankind, and the boundless brotherhood that this must engender.
I feel like a chump for initially assuming that every person we encounter is bad news. On the other hand, I do know that such folk are actually out there. But maybe the horror stories you hear are exaggerated? I don’t know- all I know is, every single person we’ve encountered so far who wasn’t wearing a uniform of some kind has been more than amiable. So if there are any bad vibes out here, maybe we’re the ones bringing them in.
¿Qué Coño, Hombre?
An hour down the highway we reach Guerrero Negro (“Black Soldier”, in the local parlance). Gro Negro (as it is abbreviated on highway distance signs) sits on the state line between Baja California and Baja California Sur. This means we get to deal with the authorities again- sweet. I roll up to the checkpoint. A tired old crotchety-looking uniformed government bullshit-jockey ambles up to the window and addresses me in Spanish, but switches to English when he hears me speak.
The policeman (or whatever the fuck he is) stands at my window criticizing my travel paperwork, shaking his head and muttering “No, no, no”, and looking back at his co-gro for encouragement, validation, laughter- who knows. The other guy sits there in a booth looking about as animated as Bernie. He might already be dead of boredom, I can’t quite tell for sure.
Our paperwork isn’t in order. Our visas are illegitimate. Our auto insurance policy is void. The guy’s just shamelessly tossing everything at the wall to see if any of it will stick. I respond firmly, but with a measure of deference (strictly self-preservation-motivated), and assert my surety that all of our paperwork is most definamente in order, though I have no idea whether or not it actually is- or even what that concept means in these parts.
The man is not the least bit swayed or intimidated by my flimsy, tissue-paper-thin veneer of faux-confidence. He steps back for a moment while he tries to come up with some new farce to perpetrate upon us in the name of national security. ¿Qué coño, hombre?
A Weasel-Named Fee
Ah but then…wait! There is a way this can be fixed right here and now, the man says! If we pay him the requisite “processing fee”, he offers, he will do us the “favor” of correcting our paperwork to bring it into compliance (with his wallet).
Jesucristo. I roll my eyes- but only in my mind. Fine, I’ll fucking play.
“Okay, what is the fee?” The guy teeters forward, peering intently into the car, but makes no answer to my query. I issue my pregunta a second time. “How much is the fee?”
I’m playing a game here. We both are. He’s trying to see how much money I have in my wallet; and I’m trying to pretend it’s not blatantly obvious that he is doing so. In truth, the “fee” is equal to whatever amount of money he thinks he can extort from me; and so knowing this, though I only have a few dollars in my wallet, I shield it from his view. Finally he seems to accept that he’s not getting a glimpse into my wallet, so instead he just demands 25 pesos. 25 pesos! Nooo!!
25 pesos is only like two and a half bucks, so I don’t bother going toe-to-toe with the guy any longer. Shit, I mean, if that’s all it takes to pass through Mexico unmolested by government authorities, I will gladly pay off every official from Tijuana to Guatemala City, and smile while I’m doing it.
Anyhoo, Chalk and I are both ravenous, and this government checkpoint is beat. I hand the the man his dirty dinero, and he promptly waves us through, all the while exuding an air of one who has been profoundly, utterly, and unnecessarily put out by our intrusion into his cozy little port of entry government playhouse.
We are now south of the border south of the border. We have come slightly more than halfway down the peninsula; and all that stands between us and Cabo is 575 miles of… well, how the hell would we know?
Previous: Chapter 7: Foaming at the Mouth