Baja Day 17: Buses, Taxis and Thai Food

Well, hoy es el ultimo dia (the last day). I woke up and began to clean and collect my things. I did laundry in Sergio’s house (no power in my casita still) and made myself lunch to eat later. The fog rolled in, sea-blown, from the blue empyrean of the Pacific, and it was certifiably chilly on our cliff in Todos Santos.

Come afternoon, I biked to town, finished my art installment and gave Donna a huge good bye. She left me with the sincere promise that anytime I wanted some time “away” I could call her up and she’d secure a place for me in Todos Santos. I thanked her profusely after she frequently reiterated her promise saying, “And I’m serious. I’m totally serious.”

I think scooted around town buying gifts and graduation presents, befriending Mario and his sister Miranda who ran one of the shops in the process. I picked through a lot of gaudy jewelry to find something modest and classy and looked at a handful of blankets (sarapes) as a gift for The Link School. When Mario didn’t have an item I asked to see, he would say, “Wait one second!” and dash out the door returning five minutes later with an exclamation like, “I know where to find _____ ! (can’t say it; I’d spoil a graduation gift) My friend Javier up the street in the back of the plaza has them. Just ask for Javier.” In this fashion, I got my shopping done and managed to haggle down the prices a bit to boot.

Returning home, I ate half the lunch I’d set aside, charged my phone, folded laundry, packed it away, all the while surrounded by three dogs and a cat. The usual. It was a wonderfully mundane morning. Sometimes those are the best, especially when you are processing and reflecting on three weeks of a wonderful trip. And without qualms, I picked up my things, put them in Sergio’s trunk, said my goodbyes to Janine and Mauricio who were on the premises (they’re getting married next year, for all of you who know them) and got into the beat up white Nissan and Sergio and I drove to the bus depot in downtown Todos Santos. I purchased a ticket and said goodbye and thanked him as much as words and decency allowed, and sat and read until the bus pulled up, I showed the driver my ticket and stepped inside.

I was over come with a feeling of independence. Based on my reflections of the trip, I concluded that I could do anything. Limitations were opportunities for problem solving, challenges were for growth, living in another country for humility. I realized my secret to success was not based on a personal set of abilities. A lot of the time, I had no idea what I was doing. But what I did do was maintain a positive and realistic attitude, ask for help all the time, a lot, without fail, even if it was embarrassing, even if it was something I should know how to do (like work a concrete drill or change a gattafone– musts for all teacher volunteers in a foreign country).  Also, indispensable to this trip was the willingness to constantly give, give, give and be teachable. Giving selflessly and from the heart, of whatever you have, is the best vehicle for diplomacy I’ve ever experienced. I received nothing but generosity from the people I’ve come in contact with on the trip and have been supplied with everything I’ve needed. Also, I’ve learned to always reach out, get involved, talk with people, ask them about themselves ask them for help! Even and especially when you feel vulnerable to looking too outgoing or whatever rubbish may seem to get in the way of connecting fully with those around you (and it will try!). I met some incredible people as a result and now have a net work of interesting, intelligent, generous friends interspersed throughout the Todos Santos, gringos and Mexicans alike.

I took the bus to San Jose del Cabo about an hour away and then figured out how to get a taxi which took me to the hotel I was staying at, Posada Señor Mañana. I arrived and the taxi pulled away. The hotel was located at the end of a street. I went to the locked green metal gate and rung the bell– literally. A string with a bell on the other side that was dangling near the open window of tiny office room located just on the other side of the gate. I waited. A furry mutt came to the other side of the gate and snuffled me curiously. I run the bell again. I heard a door slam and footsteps. I expected someone to walk across the open courtyard but instead a voice from the balcony above called, “You must be Cameron!” A long haired figure popped up above me: Hernan was a spry middle aged Mexican in board shorts, graying long hair and two earrings. “That’s me!” I called back. I didn’t know yet but this unorthodox and lax greeting was my first hint that Posada Señor Mañana was going to be something else. I let him know that I was going to be needing a ride to the airport tomorrow at 4:45am and he agreed, beaming, saying he’d be happy to take me. I’ve never had someone so happy to assist me at such an hour.

Ok, the Posada S M (abbreviations) is straight up ugly. It’s old, outdated, dingy and weird looking. There are no rooms on the ground level. Rooming takes place on the balcony second story floor. There is an open courtyard where a tent is set up as if someone is camping in it. It’s kind of like being in a public park. But Hernan is cheery and I am quietly enjoying the weirdness of the milieu. He leads me to one room. There isn’t much light.

“What about that one?” I ask, pointing to the next one down. I can see it has two large windows. He lets me in. It’s very basic. A bed. A mirror. A dresser. Two lights. A bathroom. No chairs. Two funky paintings of Mexican village scenes on the walls. The door is lime green, the walls are baby blue and the linoleum tile floors display a pattern I cannot detect. The bed is akin to a pullout couch.

“Perfect!” I tell Hernan. He hands me my keys and leaves me with the room. I spend a few minutes poking around its sparse furnishings. It’s easily the crummiest room I’ve ever stayed in in my life. And I think it’s great. It’s cheap and, I thought to myself, I can blog about it tonight. Soon, I locked my door, brought a Toni Morrison with me and set out to explore Cabo del San Jose a bit and rustle up some dinner. The contrasts between Todos Santos and San Jose are distinct. SJ is loud, the roads are paved, the houses and shops are close together, smatterings of upscale art galleries and restaurants speckle the streets and there are more visable gringos. Todos Santos on the other hand is quiet, dark, unfinished, quaint, navigable and as of yet still belongs to the Mexicans (so to speak). The change is fascinating. I explore for a while before spotting a Thai restaurant and decide to give it a try. It’s moderately up-scale so I decide I’m celebrating a harmonious close to my harmonious trip. I have the green curry with chicken and bamboo shoots, extra spicy. I eat, it’s delicious and I read and the book is also delicious.

I strike up a conversation with the people at the table beside me and ask them if they’ve enjoyed their dinner and what did that have? Soon we talked about where I was going to school and what I was doing in Mexico. One of the travelers, Ray, was from Colorado Springs. They finished their dinner and left and when the next batch of people came in, two women, I recommend the curry to them and we began to talk. They were on vacation and had spent the day marlin fishing since it was on their bucket list. They were from Fresno, CA, and one of them had grown up, yes, in Colorado. We gabbed for a while about life and their families and what I’d been up to before we each enjoyed our respective dinners. By the time I’d left, Debbie, a senior mortgage loan officer, had given me her card and let me know to call her if I ever needed a friend in Fresno. Again, generous people everywhere if you just engage.

I returned to my hotel and showered (San Jose is hot compared to Todos Santos, and sticky). Here I am, mariachi blasting through the paper-thin walls, the highway being loud outside my window and me, clicking away on my keys preserving Mexico in type. I sit and reflect. A dog barks. I’ve had a good trip.


4 thoughts on “Baja Day 17: Buses, Taxis and Thai Food

  1. I’m so grateful for your amazing trip and the amazing experiences you’ve had to grow. Here’s to many more!


  2. Wow, Cameron!

    I only now had a chance to catch up on your maravillosa adventure. I love your writing style–the words just flow.

    Next time, I’d like to have a taste-test link, so I could sample the amazing variety of south-border dishes you so aptly described. I also really liked the many water-escapades you described…I could almost feel the submarine-size presence of the “baby” whale shark, the voracious pursuit of the fish munching lobo, and the energy of the freshly caught tuna on your line and on the deck.

    Here’s to many more Hemingwayesque adventures and to colorful paragraphs that make them live for your fans.

    Playa con Dios,

  3. Wow, Cameron — I’ve unintentionally saved all your blogs until the eleventh hour (I’m on my way to Link very early tomorrow). What a feast of words and images! I genuinely feel like I’ve been by your side in Baja, and genuinely wish I had been. 🙂 I especially loved your eloquent summary of what you learned — that “Limitations were opportunities for problem solving, challenges were for growth, living in another country for humility.” You have a huge head start on so many people in the world, people who either aren’t interested in stretching themselves or haven’t found time/opportunities/courage. Can’t wait to hear about your future adventures — which you WILL write about, right??

    Cheryl Ranson

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