Jan 2012

Blog, North America

DISCUSSION 13 Comments

Crazy Eyes

When I was about 10 years old, I was hiking with my dad and brothers in Sedona when we decided to duck a fence to find a shortcut to some Indian ruins. A few minutes later a strung out crazy person jumped out from behind a bush wielding a sawed off shotgun. He had a string of shotgun shells around his neck and he kept the gun aimed directly at us. He had crazy in his eyes. After a half an hour of pleading, he let us go. I had this in mind as I ducked the fence and started walking into the bushes at the property that we assumed belonged to a friend of a friend in La Ribera near Baja’s southern tip.

We left La Paz on Sunday morning and headed south. We didn’t know where we were going, only that there was a couple from the states trying to build some kind of permaculture farm near La Ribera. A bit of Google stalking led us to Biosfera Buena Fortuna, where we figured we’d find someone who knew them. We drove there and found a young American guy pruning a tree, so we asked him where we might find Tiffanie.

“I think she lives toward town a little. Look for a gate with a Buddhist symbol on it.”
“What do you mean by ‘Buddhist symbol'”, I asked.
“I’m not really sure.” he said. He was like Yoda, except less helpful.

Back in Nacho, we headed toward town and found a gate with a strange symbol on it. Buddhism probably has strange symbols, so we figured we must be in the right place. Bingo bango. The gate was locked and there was no house in sight, just trees, shrubs, and a dirt track winding into the foliage.

After squeezing through the barbed wire fence I walked down the track past banana and mesquite trees. I noticed a child’s bare footprints in the dust. After a while I came across a huge thatched palapa, under which two men and two women were building a deck, while two little girls played. No guns, no crazy people.

We spent two days in La Ribera with these folks; Tiffanie and Troy moved here a week ago with their 3 year old daughter Anjali from Corvallis, Oregon. They brought along their friends Tiffany and Josh, with their 3 year old daughter Stella, to help get the property ready for living. Due to computer issues we didn’t tell them we were coming, but they all welcomed our arrival – and my trespassing – with open arms. It was as if we’d known each other for years.

Tiffanie runs a food blog and was generous enough to cook for us all weekend in her open-air kitchen. We contributed cornbread cooked in our Dutch oven in the campfire, and passed around a bottle of Nate’s home brewed quadrupel. Each night we ate dinner under the palapa, and then sat around the campfire. Outdoor living: it doesn’t suck like you might think it would.

On our second day we made our way to the beach for a bit of recreation. I still hadn’t caught a fish, and was determined to finally satisfy my primordial predatory desires by landing The Big One. They say to visualize yourself succeeding to find success, so I tried. I imagined casting my bait 300 yards into the dark undergrowth of a fish infested kelp forest. I imagined a 60 pound roosterfish taking my hook, and myself bravely fighting until the fish became tired enough for me to haul it ashore, where I would plunge my dive knife into its head like a Spartan warrior. I wouldn’t even show any emotion, even though it would be very emotional for even the hardest of war hardened killers. I would wipe my bloody hands on a whole bunch of Kleenex tissues and then take a photo with my kill. I would leave the bloody Kleenex tissues right there on the beach so that future beachgoers would wonder what kind of terror must have happened in that spot. It would be a story they would pass on to their grandchildren. “I tell you, grandchildren, there was more blood on that tissue than on all of Normandy’s beaches. It must have been one hell of a nosebleed.”

Try as I might, I couldn’t seem to cast more than 40 yards. I stood there on the shore for what seemed like an hour, my pale white torso turning a splotchy red from the sun. I didn’t have a fishing rod holder, so I held it with my hand. Slouched over, burning, holding onto a fishing pole. An obnoxious retired American guy walked over, beer in one hand, a cigarette in the other, and the bulbous potbelly of a malnourished famine child protruding from his frail body.

“I like your fishing pole holder! Ha! You know what your problem is? You have too much bait! Ha Ha! I knew it when I saw you casting! Ha! ” Great, I thought, I can’t run away or else I’ll dislodge my bait from the fish infested kelp forest. The man was yelling every word in my ear. Must be drunk. Or senile.

“You know what else you’re doing wrong!? You’re standing there in your shorts with those f***ing Hanes underwear! Ha! You need to jerk those f***ing pants off and put a f***ing beer in one hand. HA! You know what else you’re doing wrong!? You need to taaaake ooooooffff thaaaat f***********ing waaaaaatch! HA HA HA!” Damn it all, and here I forgot my tazer and my pepper spray back in Nacho. I’d just have to wait until he got bored and left.

In the end I didn’t catch any fish. Turned out I wasn’t casting into a fish infested kelp forest after all. My later paddle boarding expedition proved that in fact I was casting into 5 feet of water with a smooth sandy bottom. Thank goodness we’re near civilization or we’d have starved to death long ago.

On Tuesday morning we loaded up Nacho and said farewell to our new friends. Josh and Troy, both ER doctors, found it hard to believe that we were traveling without a first aid kit, so Josh unloaded all of his supplies on us. Now we’re basically a traveling medical clinic; we have an EpiPen, antibiotics, splints, various pills, and a flesh stapler. Yes, a flesh stapler. The way Josh put it, “I love these things. In the amount of time it takes for the patient to evacuate their lungs in a blood curdling scream, you can have the whole wound closed up.” He said it with such nonchalance, so matter of fact, and with a hint of crazy in his eyes.

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  1. Great post!

    No shots of this mysterious-looking view from the gate of the property?

    Comment by David on January 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm

  2. Marie

    Just recently started reading your posts. Wondering what that is attached to the front of your van? Thanks for sharing with the world! Marie

    Comment by Marie on January 21, 2012 at 10:24 pm

  3. Mom

    How you find these phenomenal people in your travels is mind-boggling! Like attracts like (google helps). Those short, sweet friendships alone and sharing of beer and stories is enough to make the adventure worthwhile, no? And is that a BEARD I see on your chin? Love you, Mom

    Comment by Mom on January 21, 2012 at 11:43 pm

  4. @Marie: Thanks for reading! We attached our sand ladders / bridging ladders to the front receiver hitch. I will be doing a gear review on the setup at some point, as they’re really working well for us. We use them as an elevated shower floor in addition to sand ladders.

    @Mom: The beard comes and goes, but I never let it get out of control. I shave it every time I brush my teeth, so, like, every couple of weeks ;)

    Comment by Brad on January 22, 2012 at 2:05 am

  5. He’s right you know… You cant catch no fish with underwear on….

    Pick up a piece of PVC, cut it off at an angle on the bottom, instant fishing rod holder!

    Loving the updates!

    Comment by James on January 22, 2012 at 2:52 am

  6. Jason

    Flesh stapler? … Want!

    Getting caught up since the build posts, great fun so far! Keep it up!

    Comment by Jason on January 22, 2012 at 6:36 am

  7. Marena

    It sounds like you guys are having a really amazing time. I would absolutely LOVE to be doing exactly what you are right now, but maybe some day that’ll happen :)
    Are you going to be in Ecuador at all?? I think i’m going to be there from the end of june through the end of July or beginning of August doing a student volunteer trip near the amazon, and that would be So cool if we ended up getting to see eachother! let me know :)
    love you guys,

    Comment by Marena on January 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm

  8. So glad you all were able to meet down there! And darn jealous too :)

    Comment by daralyn on January 23, 2012 at 1:01 am

  9. Yeah. This does not suck.

    Go Nacho Go!

    thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Brian on January 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm

  10. Oh, Brad! You crack me up! My abs seriously got a work-out reading your account; my smiling cheeks, too. :-)
    Thanks for the great press for our place.
    You two (and your future family) are welcome to crawl thru our barbed wire anytime.

    PS: The Buddhist symbol is the Tibetan letter “Ah” ~ the sound of Creation; kind of the Tibetan equivalent of Om.

    PSS: Sheena has really lit an inspiring fire under my tush to get out to the beach for a morning run!! Thank you, so much, Sheena! :-)

    happy happy trails, Nacho!

    Comment by Tiffanie on January 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm

  11. Jay’s fiance Sharon here, just wanted to comment to let you know I am seriously impressed by your writing. I read this post out loud to several people because it is so well written. Did you take writing classes or just journal a lot?

    Comment by Sharon T-B on January 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm

  12. @Sharon: Nice to hear from you, and thanks for the great compliments! I’ve actually never taken a writing course or written in a journal. The only writing I’ve ever really done has been technical engineering reports at work. This trip is really the first expressive writing I’ve done. Glad you don’t think it’s a total train wreck!

    Comment by Brad on February 1, 2012 at 3:06 am

  13. chuck

    I keep reading “fish stapler” and I’m like wtf¡!!!?

    Comment by chuck on September 26, 2016 at 12:35 am

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