My long time friend Joe who owns a place in La Paz called me to announce his plans to bring another boat down the peninsula. His bigger boat, and mine were already over at Palmira, but Joe wanted his trailer-able Skipjack too. Joe, his brother Al and I left San Rafael, California at 3AM one morning and began a trip we will never forget.
We had done the Baja by car and by boat many times, but this was a first for pulling a boat trailer. While the roads are better than in many years, the bumps took their toll on the trailer and one of the U shape brackets holding one axle in place finally snapped. We were just outside of Cuidad Constitucion when the trailer broke and we limped into town very early one afternoon.
Al is married to a Mexican woman and one of her cousins lived in Constitucion so he headed off to see if he could find him. Joe and I sat with the boat and the truck on the side of the main street through town. The boat must have been quite a sight for the locals as soon, many of the town’s kids were all around. Joe and I decided to invite the kids up on the boat and let them sit behind the helm (steering) as though they were running the boat- and they loved it. Soon, parents were coming with more kids and with cameras. They were taking pictures of their kids while the kid sat at the helm- we were enjoying the kids more than they were enjoying being the “Capitan.”
As the evening progressed, Al returned with a kind young man who had his welding equipment and he began in earnest to fix the trailer. While the man was working, I went to find something for us to eat. I saw the sign for the local carneceria (meat market) and figured on buying some steaks to cook on the boat’s attached (rail mounted) barbeque. I entered the market and the shopkeeper told me he was closing as he was late for dinner, but I could help myself and leave the money on the counter. He told me to pull the door closed behind me as I left as it was already locked. I was really astounded by his faith and trust. I picked out three fine looking filets of beef steaks and left ample money (pesos) on the counter, including a small propina (tip). Back at the boat, we grilled the steaks and heated some canned barbeque beans for dinner while the young welder finished the trailer repair. We enjoyed a wonderful meal with kids milling about and some of the local families touring the boat.
Just as the young welder was finishing up his work on the trailer, his wife, children and parents arrived. The welder’s mother had made fried chicken for us to take with us and when Joe tried to pay her for it, she refused. When Joe asked the young man what the cost of the repair was, he replied in Spanish that the work was his pleasure (no cost) as we had given the town kids (and his own) such a treat by letting them sit in the boat. Joe and I nearly had tears in our eyes as the entire experience had been such a wonderful lesson in Mexican hospitality and human kindness.
We asked the welder’s mother to take money for her grandkids and we slipped her a $100US bill. She seemed totally overwhelmed by the gesture, but it was the only thing we had to give that might have possibly done something to brighten the lives of the family that had given me such a long lasting and lovely Baja California Sur memory. Since that day, each time I have occasion to drive down, we stop and say hello to our new friends. We bring clothes and small household appliances and it helps us to know that the little gifts are spread liberally around the town. Baja California Sur is a memorable place and the people are as warm and generous as any I have ever had the pleasure to know.
Baja is for Everyone Writing Contest Entry