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El Conejo, BCS > La Paz, BCS
Monday, August 29th:
Okay, so we lost a couple hours by getting the car stuck in the sand on the beach; but now that that problem’s been neutralized, we’re cooking along. It’s about 20 miles back to the paved highway. No problem.
But the problem is, nobody ever says “No problem” in a situation like this, unless the phrase is being deployed as a vehicle for ironic foreshadowing. Just sayin’.
After about 15 miles, the sand of the road starts getting pretty deep and unruly. I can’t deny that I’m getting a little nervous that if I slow down I’ll get the car stuck again; so I keep plowing along at a slightly faster clip than would otherwise be advisable on this dusty stretch of nowhere thoroughfare.
But wait…what is this? Cresting a shallow rise, I can see up ahead, just before the crest of the next rise, a stopped vehicle. Seeing as how turning around, stopping, or even slowing down are all completely out of the question at the moment, we exercise our one option, taking it on hope that the driver of that car up ahead will get moving before we catch up to him.
We don’t bother asking the question “Why is that guy stopped?”
Because we know the answer.
Here In The Sea of Sand, Nothing Ever Goes As Planned
We’ve almost reeled the guy in all the way; he hasn’t moved. I start casting about frantically for a bypass of some kind- a way to go around him, so as to maintain enough speed to remain afloat on the hungry sea of sand. Problem is, for random stretches here and there, the road bed runs through a two-foot depression in the surrounding land; and this is one of those stretches. So to try to go around the stopped vehicle would mean risking significant damage to the car, unless I can figure out how to do a two-foot bunny hop up onto the raised shoulder.
But I don’t know how to do that. And anyway, even if I could get the car up there, that way lay all manner of scrub brush, cactus, animal holes, and crumbling, collapsed washouts to contend with; so we’d probably end up just as porked up on the bank as we are here on the road.
Dig Me Out
Which is why we are now stuck once again- sunken in the sand behind the other car, immobile. Even if that guy started moving now, we would not be able to follow. Yep, we’re buried again- even deeper than the last time (which was only a half a fuckin’ hour ago). But as buried as we are, so is he.
Now, as much as misery loves company, this is not ideal. Our company consists of three locals: two men and a woman, probably all in their 30s, give or take. I notice that in front of their car sits a dirt-equipped motorcycle, which I assume one of the hombres was riding. The motorcycle does not appear to be stuck in the sand any more than a seaworthy raft is stuck on the surface of a lake. I try to converse with the three of them; but the woman shies away and ducks demurely behind one of the men, saying nothing. And with the men the language barrier is thick, impermeable, unyielding. Employing the international language of “You’re fucked, we’re fucked; we’re all fucked. And fuckedness knows no borders. So let’s put our cabezas together for the benefit of todos”, we are able to glean that nobody is happy about this.
Señorita I’m in Trouble Again, And I Can’t Get Free
A moment later the two men set off on the motorcycle, back in the direction from which we came- the direction of nothing. Nothing that I know of anyway.
But it does seem a bit odd that they’ve just left their woman alone in the middle of the desert with two random gringos.
The woman remains in the front seat of her car, eyes straight ahead. This also seems odd; because if we did have some kind of malicious intentions toward her, her staring out her windshield with her back to us probably would not intimidate us into restraint, nor would it afford her anything more than the absolute minimum chance of thwarting whatever nefarious advance we might have in mind. But Mexican chicks have never been my thing; so she’s safe.
Eeaassyy… I’m just kidding… she’s not safe.
I’m Digging For Tires
We take a few token digs at the underside of the car; but it is utterly hopeless. The entire chassis is resting squarely on the sand. There aren’t really even any air pockets between the sand and the car. Now it’s just a waiting game.
The assumption is that when these dudes come back, they will be bringing help for all. That doesn’t feel like all that much of a reach, despite the mild apprehension that attends the thought.
It’s getting dark. As the light starts to dwindle, the lights of cars on Highway 1 start emerging through the hot waves of desert air, five or six miles up ahead, in a slight depression of the land. Behind us nothing whatever can be seen, save for the dirty yellow lights of a clearly-uninhabited storage building of some sort, miles away across the vast open desert. The ocean was visible a few minutes ago, but now even that shit has gone to bed for the night.
Enter: The Bo-Hweemoth
After a little over an hour of milling about by the car, pretending to be unaware of the woman who is pretending to be unaware of us, a set of headlights, and another solitary headlight, appear off in the distance behind us, heading this way.
Here comes either help, mockery, or death.
The motorcycle comes flying up the dirt road and guns it past our car and the one in front of it, and reclaims its parking spot from earlier, in front of everybody. The other vehicle comes bouncing up behind us. It is a gigantic pickup truck, cranked way up off the ground on suspension lifts . The term “pickup truck” doesn’t even seem adequate- the thing is one fang short of being a monster truck.
Oh wait… there’s the fang.
How the fuck did these two guys just take off into the lifeless desert and return a little while later with a fuckin’ monster truck?
The large-wheeled monstrosity stops behind Chalk’s car, and sits there on top of the sand, not even the slightest bit concerned about sinking in the sand. The knobs on the tires are so huge, and the tire themselves so ridiculously colossal, that this thing could probably cross the Sahara Desert without getting stuck. Gas might be an issue, though.
After a brief survey of the situation, the driver of the newly-arrived huge truck simply turns the wheel to the right a little, guns the engine, and goes plowing right up the steep embankment, along the raised desert bed, past both trapped cars, and then down again onto the sandy road bed in front of both vehicles.
Ayuadame, Por Favor!
Instantly, ropes and chains are flying every which way, hooks and cables are linked, pedals depressed, and chasses yanked violently out of deep sand and down the road a piece onto terra firmer.
Sweet. We’ll be out of here in a couple minutes.
And just as quickly, the Mexican dudes start packing up their towing gear and throwing it back into the bed of the big-ass truck.
Whoah. Whaaooohh. Wait a goddamn minute here.
The guys with the big truck and the towing gear are not the least bit concerned about our plight, and as such, are completely uninterested in spending any more time out here in the darkening desert helping a pair of stupid, luckless gringos. A look of equal parts incredulity and panic takes shape on Chalk’s face.
One of the original two dudes (the driver of the other stuck car- the one whose fault it is that we’re stuck), makes a gesture to me that says “Sorry, mano. What do you want me to do?”
Well, I’ve got some ideas. I insert myself into the mix, in an attempt to advance a reasoned argument for why the big-trucking-hombres should help us as well their countrymen. Problem is, my argument has not been thought through any further than “Because we need help, and want you to provide it.” It’s lacking in incentive for the would-be assistance-givers, unless “because it’s the right thing to do” registers; but it’s looking like it doesn’t. We’ve got to sweeten the deal somehow.
But there’s no way we’re whipping out our money reserves here, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a crew of local dudes with big-swingin’ trucks. Because, as we all know, the bigger, and more ludicrously masculine your vehicle, the tougher you are.
So what do we have that might move these dudes to help us?
Chalk remembers this large, unopened bottle of Jägermeister that we’ve been carting around since San Diego, saving it for… uhh, this moment, apparently.
Chalk digs out the Jäger bottle and holds it up, like one of those babes on The Price Is Right (though not quite as sexy), as I voice the offer, en español.
When Spanish Eyes Are Smiling
Suddenly Spanish eyes are smiling. One of the dudes steps forward and says they will drag us out- for the bottle of Jäger, and $20, U.S. At least I think that’s what he said.
But as I stated already, I’m not willing to whip out my money stash right here; so I explain to the best of my ability that the offer is acceptable to me, except no tengo alguno efectivo ahora (I don’t have any cash on me at the moment). The dude responds that he’s fine with following us to a cajero automático (ATM).
We ponder this for a moment: Are we better off tipping our hand now, and risking having everything we’re holding taken away from us; or are we better off trying our luck with the bank machine, and hoping these dudes don’t stick some chrome in our grills and demand the balance of our bank accounts? Then it hits me: there’s less money in my bank account than in my wallet! Brilliant!
Suddenly these are some dice I think I’m comfortable rolling.
Up and ATM
Less than five minutes later we are once again making our way down the dirt road towards Highway 1; and soon we are turning back out onto the pavement and resuming our southward trajectory, albeit with a Mexican monster truck up our ass and looking for money. Our money. Whatever- a deal’s a deal.
Previous: Chapter 12: Hassles Made of Sand
Next: Chapter 14 (coming soon)