wrote recently about how we cruisers have nothing to fear except fear itself... and perhaps swimming pools? You have no idea how prescient that article feels in retrospect.
It all started with a simple idea. Let's take the van for a trial camping run down to El Burro to meet up with other cruisers to celebrate the July 4 holiday. For many years, cruising boats have rallied in El Burro to share food, friendship, and fireworks on that most American of holidays. The trip would enable us to test our gear, work on adapting kitty to van life, and provide a nice relief to the monotony of dock life in Santa Rosalia.
Our first life threatening experience came on the trip down. We bought a van in La Paz, and DrC spent a few days during his last week with us shlepping down there on a bus and driving it back. He warned me that sometimes, “When you're at idle at a stop sign, the engine dies.” He didn't seem to feel it was a big problem, and neither of us thought too much about it. You can always just start the engine again when the light changes. Right?
Wrong. What if you're not at a stop light when the light changes? What if you're coasting down a very narrow, twisty mountain road with a 200 foot drop to the beach below and a large, gas freight truck behind you? What if when the engine dies, you discover that the reason they call it Power steering and Power brakes is that you need Power to make these crucial features work? Standing on the brake pedal and wrenching the wheel over a half inch, I was able to drift out of the way of the truck and onto a very thin shoulder on the opposite side of the road. The girls prairie dogged up from their books to ask me what was wrong as I hyperventilated by the side of the road, wondering if 42 was too young for a brain aneurysm triggered by a grand mal heart attack. “Nothing girls, no worries.” The van just tried to kill us. It's okay. Nothing to see here.
For the remaining 10 miles to El Burro, I slowed at the top of every hill, popped the van into neutral, and revved the engine all the way down while braking with my left foot. My heart rate was approximately 120 bbm for the duration, and I arrived in El Burro looking and feeling very much as though I'd seen back to back showings of Aliens and the Blair Witch project, every hair standing on end, covered in cold sweat, and knees liquid. But El Burro represented safety and cruiser brotherhood. I knew that somewhere in that fleet I would find succor in the form of tools, knowledge, and testosterone. And true enough, the next day Bob of s/v Panterra used some engine conditioner and a little elbow grease to get us functional.
Now when it comes to indicting land life, I don't it's fair to include the many mayo and egg based salads and pastas served at room temperature with artery inducing hot dogs at the party. I mean, that doesn't really count, right? That's just the standard American diet on July 4, and we can't hold that against the land world. Similarly, I will disqualify the heat – over 100 for two days with no air conditioner, fan, or pool. However, I think we can peg Land with the failed cooler, the dog pack, and the mosquitoes. Land also must take responsibility for the sand in my panties, the splinters in Aeron's feet, and the complete lack of potty facilities. However, it was the fireworks display that provided proof positive that Land is dangerous.
When you watch fireworks on a boat, they go off over there. Over the water over there. Not here, in other words. The fireworks in El Burro went off here. In fact, the firework-setter-offer-people reprised a classic Wily Coyote cartoon complete with an initially unimpressive few pops and whistles and bursts followed by a spectacular Acme-worthy display of lights, color and sound as a spark dropped into the fireworks box. There were rockets going off in every direction, igniting palapas, whizzing past peoples' legs and under chairs, shooting under the gas tanks of cars, and blasting into the crowd. People were running and screaming, dogs were howling, my cat disappeared. Miraculously, no one was hurt. Oddly, there were drunk cruisers asking, “Where's the rest of the fireworks?” after the mayhem was brought under control.
The drive back was comparatively uneventful. We dodged a bull found unexpectedly in the middle of the highway, stalled the car on the way through Mulege, and almost lost our rear view mirror to a Tecate truck above Santispac. The cat alternated between meowing in my ear and climbing on to the steering wheel and sticking her butt in my face. To prevent further stall outs, we left the air conditioning off, and it was a mere 102 on our arrival back at the boat.
My boat is safe. Land is dangerous. In fact, Land Sucks.