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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

PEOPLE & VOICES - Gypsy Journal

Rachel Pack, Raine Fisher and John Pack enjoying the
"good life" at the Blues & Arts Fiesta.
Photo by Dave Anderson

Los Barriles is a small community on the east cape of Los Cabos. The area is known for great wind surfing, kite surfing and fishing. For most of January and February it was home. We met many new friends and reconnected with some old friends. We traveled the cape from Los Barriles to Todos Santos ever week, exploring all the amazing locations in between.

Now it was time to leave. The Blues & Arts Fiesta was March 27, and we had to be there. We didn't want to rush north, so we gave ourselves a little time.

Here's a timeline, so we can skip to the good stuff . . . you know, like they do in movies.

Sunday, February 21, 2010: La Paz, BCS. In La Paz you can get anything. This week we needed our generator serviced and a "movie fix." We saw four new release movies that week, in English.

Monday, March 1, 2010: Loreto, BCS. We arrived in Loreto to familiar spaces and good friends, but it was our deadline. When Rachel finally appeared from the RV, the neighbors were shocked—they thought the RV was storage and no one was inside.

Friday, March 5, 2010: Mulegé, BCS. We stayed at Playa Santispac. It was the first beach in Baja where Rachel and I camped together, six years earlier. We stopped to visit an RV park to get info; they already knew us and wanted to advertise in the magazine. Wish that would happen every day.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010: San Ignacio, BCS. Arrived at Rice & Beans in San Ignacio, three hours from Mulegé. Rice & Beans is 250 pesos per night, but has full hookups. So, we recharged our batteries and took advantage of the full hookup.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010: San Ignacio River & Lagoon, BCS. We moved from Rice & Beans to a wonderful spot on the west side of the San Ignacio river for only 100 pesos, which included water. We could hear the frogs outside on the river bank, something you don't hear much in Baja. It was beautiful and very quiet.

Thursday, March 11, 2010: San Ignacio, BCS. NO GAS. The station was out until tomorrow. We were stuck in San Ignacio, so we explored.

Friday, March 12, 2010: Guerrero Negro, BCS. GAS. We only had 200 pesos left . . . not a problem. We're finally back on the highway. I was getting anxious to get home.

The day was sunny and beautiful, and the recent rains had transformed the desert into a blanket of flora of purple and yellows. I was daydreaming, lost in my thoughts and the landscape, when SMASH . . . my driver-side mirror exploded. I could see in the fragments that remained that it was a van, and it wasn't braking. We had only traveled about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) when it happened. With no place to turn around, and no gas to chase anyone down, we continued forward to the military checkpoint. We waited in line . . . still no van. We went through inspection . . . still no van. We waited and talked with soldiers . . . still no van.

Just as we started to pull away onto the highway again, the van pulls into the checkpoint and a small heavyset woman came running from the van screaming for us to stop. I could see the van successfully pushing through the checkpoint. Soon several soldiers, the screaming woman, the driver of the van—who was also the husband of the screamer—and half a dozen teenagers had converged on the RV. The soldiers seemed to only be curious.

The mirrors of the RV and van hit so hard, the impact swung the van mirror back 180 degrees and smashed out his driver-side window. The husband wanted to head back to San Ignacio, but I told him we had no gas and no money, and all those things were in the next town, not back in San Ignacio. After a brief discussion in Spanglish and body language, we pulled out onto the highway to Vizcaino; me following the van and Rachel following me.

Vizcaino had the bank, the gas station and auto parts store. Rachel went to the bank, while I took care of the van. The husband and I both thought the other was at fault, but rather than blaming him—and since it would be easier, without any bullshit—I followed the husband into the auto parts store and bought him a new window and mirror for 1,200 pesos. I thought the price was fair, and besides, he had to drive out of his way. I told him good-bye and we were on our way. Sometimes these types of things can turn into big hassles, so we were thankful it was only 100 bucks and 10 minutes.

Here's the rest of the timeline (you know, like they do in movies). I'd get more detailed but my editor only gives me so many words.

Saturday, March 13, 2010: Guerrero Negro, BCS. We drove to the Guerrero Negro lagoon to have lunch and check on the whales. The lagoon was still very alive with whales, but only a single camper. Turned out the couple in the camper were on their way to the Blues & Arts. We shared our excitement for the event without mentioning our connection, then we said, "Good-bye," thinking to ourselves, "How cool is that?"

Sunday, March 14, 2010: El Rosario, BC. The drive to El Rosario was the most magnificent display of Baja flora I had ever seen; lush green with blossoms of many brilliant colors.

Monday, March 15, 2010: San Felipe, BC. Highway 3 from Ensenada to San Felipe junction was the worst road in Baja. The rain storms had created potholes too large and too frequent to consider driving around. It was a matter of driving slow, dodging the bigger of the holes and hanging on.

The last 20 miles into San Felipe was a race. Rachel slowly shrank in the rear view mirror as I accelerated towards home. We were looking forward to relaxing and being with friends and family.

The 2010 Blues & Arts Fiesta (www.bluesandarts.com) was a day to remember with double the crowd from last year, as a couple thousand people filled the baseball arena in downtown San Felipe. The morning winds caused some concerns and disruption to vendors, with gusts so strong I watched a large, 50-gallon-drum-sized BBQ get lifted and toppled. One artist's EZup actually flew into the air high enough and far enough to carry it over a row of parked cars and a 10-foot wall.

By early afternoon the wind had stopped, the magnificent sound of blues filled the air, and the festival goers enjoyed a fun-filled day of music, the region's best artists, food provided by local restaurants, along with plenty of libations and beverages throughout the day.

We are happy to be home. ;)