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El Conejo, BCS
Monday, August 29th:
The car makes it down the dirt road to the ocean without any real difficulty. Passing by little fishing villages and various beach encampments, we cruise the dusty road alongside the water until a beach calls out to us. Chalk pulls the car up onto the hard ground near the edge of the sand. Perfect...
“Actually, why don’t you pull the car up another ten or fifteen feet.”
“I don’t know, so we can see the car better from the beach?”
“You’ll be able to see the car fine from down there.”
But whatever. He pulls the car forward anyway.
The Sand. It Burns.
After spending thirty minutes laying in the 110-degree sand furiously trying to dig the car out with no success whatsoever, I can’t help but ask myself… What the fuck possible reason could I have had to insist that the car needed to be ten feet closer to the water?
There is no shade for miles, no offshore breeze to speak of. The atmosphere breaths not. Every few minutes we have to run down to the water and hurl ourselves into the ocean, but only to immediately return to the car to resume digging in vain. You can’t see under the car. In fact, if you open a door, you carve out one wing of a sand angel.
Okay, this is not sustainable- time for outside help. But then, we are stranded in deep sand on a remote beach in a remote corner of a sparsely-populated part of Mexico’s least peopled state. What to do?
Back To The Village
Well, there was this shitbag little fishing village a few miles back. Maybe that’s the call.
We lock up the car and set off on foot, hoping to find more than a bald chassis when we return. The giant dunes roll and swoop; and at the troughs between them we keep losing our bearings. But you know: keep the ocean on your left, and the dirt road on your right, and head north until you hit either the water, the road, or the little village where the two meet.
It’s The American Way
An hour later we come upon a seaside clearing partially encircled by RVs bearing U.S. plates: Arizona, Texas, Colorado. Each one has, parked next to it, a jeep, a quadrunner, or an all-wheel-drive pickup. In the center of the crescent, a group of middle-aged white men sit in lawn chairs with beverages, beneath gigantic beach umbrellas. Viewing them from afar, they don’t look like they came here to meet 30-whatever-year-old American dudes.
The eyes are rolling before I even get a word out. Immediately I know how all of these men vote. I explain my case: that we got stuck in sand just a couple of miles down the road, and it would be really easy to pull us out, and would any of them please help us.
None of the Americans will help us. “Sorry, this is my vacation”, says one of them, speaking for the group, as evidenced by the nods of assent which accompany his declaration.
“Really? It would only take 20 minutes. Please sir, we are in a real jam here.” I look around for a flag to salute. There actually is one mounted on one of the RVs; but I leave it alone.
“Sorry son, you boys can’t just come out here unprepared and expect people to bail you out when you get yourselves into a little trouble.”
There is absolutely no question about how these guys vote. “Okay well fuck you very much then.” They ignore me.
After all, we’re not even here.
Put a Roof On The Sucka
Another twenty or thirty minutes of walking arrives us at the aforementioned “fishing village”, which up close is revealed to be no more than a tiny little shack, with another one kinda near it.
Actually, can something be technically called a shack if it doesn’t have a roof? At any rate, it’s a structure of some sort; and more importantly, there’s a pickup truck parked in front it.
A barking dog announces our approach, and then appears from out behind the back of the “house”. He’s a mini black lab; and he’s just doing his job, goddammit. Good boy. A bedraggled hombre steps out of his four-walled enclosure and into the open, greeting us in Spanish. He’s missing a few teeth, skin torched by a lifetime spent under a pitiless sun; and his head is wrapped in a bandana. No shirt.
It Takes a Village… of One
If it’s possible to look at a guy and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he definitely doesn’t know any English, then this guy is the poster child for that possibility. Anyway, hopefully he speaks the international language of “Our truck got stuck in the sand a few miles away and can you please help us?”
He does! Give it up for hand gestures and mannerisms! The guy seems to perceive clearly enough what it is we need. Then again, what other kind of problem could anybody be conceivably having out here?
The guy grabs a really strong rope with metal clips at each end and throws it in the back of the pickup, then motions us into the front seat. His demeanor suggests that this is the most exciting thing to happen to him in years.
Hound Around Town
We go bouncing down the “driveway” and out onto the same dirt road we drove in on a couple hours ago; and as we do so, the most amazing thing happens:
The dog, unspeakably jacked at the opportunity to run wild, leads us directly back to Chalk’s car. I mean, the fuckin’ thing literally runs in front of the truck, showing the way. And it’s not like we’re cuing him in any way, either- and it can’t be that he’s simply following our scent back to the car, seeing as how we came over the dunes, and not by the road, to reach his homestead. Though the dog is running with everything he’s got, at times he is so close to the front bumper of the truck that we can’t see his entire body; yet the dude never slows down or shows even the slightest fear for the dog’s safety. And the dog demonstrates that there is in fact no such need. The guy babbles at us excitedly, though by now it’s perfectly obvious that we don’t know anywhere near enough Spanish to allow for this level of spirited conversation. But this only makes his incessant yammering that much more entertaining and memorable.
Ten minutes later we roll up to Chalk’s car, still laying in the sand, fully castrated. We never even gave the guy one directional instruction; there was no need- the dog had this from the start. The dog leaps around in front of Chalk’s car as if he’s high on Costco crack-jerky, practically doing back flips of exhilaration and clearly saying to us “Here’s your car!”
Give ‘Em Enough Rope
We have to dig down in the sand several inches just to get to a part of the undercarriage of Chalk’s car that can safely bear the pressure of a tow line without warping or breaking.
Two seconds later Chalk’s car is back in the spot he’d originally parked in- the one I had insisted could be improved with a twenty-foot forward roll. The guy unhooks his rope and chucks it back into the bed of the truck. He starts profusely thanking us- or at least it seems like that’s what he’s doing. When I offer him some money, he refuses, with a gesture that clearly conveys “Don’t worry about it! Happy to help!”
“Te gusta cerveza?” (“Do you like beer?”)
“Ah, sí sí sí!” (“Yes! Yes! Yes!”)
I pull a couple of piss-warm Tecates out of our ice-free cooler and offer them to him, adding a gesture of apology meant to convey acknowledgment of the fact that warm shit-beer doesn’t really constitute a sufficiently fitting gift for the critical service he has just provided. He motions to only accept one beer; but I insist; so he takes both, and then promptly offers one of them back to me to drink (Chalk doesn’t drink beer).
Fuck it. Well-played. I accept his kind offer, and the next few minutes are spent standing around in the scorching late-afternoon sun, sipping piss out of cans, and communicating in the international language of “Thanks for helping us/ You’re welcome, thank you for the beer/ No, thank you/ Ah, sí sí sí!”
The hombre finishes his beer, tosses the can into the nearby scrub brush, puts the dog into the cab of the truck, and drives off, hand waving furiously out the window as if he’ll never forget us. We definitely won’t forget him, anyway.
We resume our southbound trajectory along the coastal dirt road.
Previous: Chapter 11: El Conejo Done Died