Mi Baja--The Sea Captain of La Salina--Chapter 9

Baja Bernie - 1-7-2007 at 07:27 AM

Now I would like to introduce you to the most dapper, outgoing, man I have ever met. David Pringle!! When he came to La Salina I do not know. That Fifi was with him everyone knows. He always wore a silk scarf at his neck and a Greek Fishermen’s cap upon his head. He was extremely careful about his attire and his person. Her reminded me of the famous English Actor David Nevin. He had a quiet, slow, smile and carried himself true and straight. He acted like he was the Mayor of La Salina. He took all newcomers in camp under his wing and took great pleasure in conducting a tour of the camp.

He would invariable meet me, shortly after I arrived at the Cantina. I would buy him a drink and he would give me my first Spanish lesson of the day. He insisted that I learn at least one Spanish word for each day I was in camp.
The first words he taught me were—Disfrutar de vida (enjoy life).

He proved himself to be every inch a gentleman. It should be pointed out that this fact did not, ever, cause him to stoop to buying anyone else a drink. Drinks were that which he received and not what he gave.

He told everyone that he was a licensed Captain of the Fishing Boats. No one ever asked him which boats or what country. His personality was such that you just did not ask such demeaning questions. He had that smile and a certain the flair that prohibited us gringo’s from asking any really meaningful questions.

David could talk for hours, even longer, if someone else was buying the drinks. He knew everything that was worth knowing about this area of Baja. I often wish he were still around to use as a source for this book.

He was a solid friend of Jack Speers and as such was well received by all who came into camp. It seems that Jack, David, and Bobby Placier, the Marshall of Ensenada, were doing what they did most of the time—drinking. On this particular day it was at Hussongs Cantina in Ensenada. They had been drinking with the likes of Fred Hoctor and Phil Harris. Fred was to become the author of a wonderful book—Baja Haha and Phil was a well known comedian and TV celebrity—Suddenly a very big, and very drunk, Mexican guy took exception to something Bobby said or did. They exchanged a few heated words and suddenly the guy pulled a knife and tried to kill Bobby. David interceded, ala David Nevin, disarmed the big guy, and apparently saved Bobby’s

As a result Bobby asked Jack to look after David for the rest of his life. Jack kept his word and as a consequence our Sea Captain led a charmed life.

We knew that David had no meaningful source of income and his house (trailer) was not hooked up to electricity. We knew that he had never bought a tank of propane. He did, however, always have heat and lights in the casita that he and Fifi shared.
We all wondered about this but never asked because of his standing with Jack. David was such a warm and wonderful guy that everyone tried to ignore his unspoken shortcomings. We all were happy to have him around. He was just plain fun to be around.

We did to start locking our propane tanks together so that they could not wander off during the night.

It was a sad day when the police came to Captain David’s place and took David to the Ensenada Police Department. Jack was true to his word and managed to get David released and he soon returned to camp. No one exhibited any desire to inquire as to why the Polica had detained our Sea Captain. After this incident occurred David became a mere shadow of himself. His shoulders slumped; his smile and flair were gone. He lacked the vitality that had characterized his previous flamboyant approach to life. He died soon after.

I think of David often. He was one of those men who brighten others lives as he touched them in passing. This was definitely true of his wanderings through my early life in this little bit of paradise that is La Salina.

I honestly believe that you would all be enriched should you be allowed the privilege of someday meeting a Captain David.

Disfrutar de Vida!

FARASHA - 1-7-2007 at 08:54 AM

Would be great to have some of this DAVID PRINGLE's type of men around, these days! - MHO >f<

DENNIS - 1-7-2007 at 01:14 PM

Thanks again, Bernie. I have the books but, every time I read it seems like the first.
I've been on that "Learn Spanish One Word Per Day" plan for years. Yep, learn one........forget two. I abuse my Spanish on the locals and they immediatly get that thousand yard stare in their eyes but they are too gracious to correct me. Thank God and Mr. Gomez who I met at La Bocana long ago. If he were alive, Im sure he would still be wondering what I was trying to say then.


Baja Bernie - 1-8-2007 at 12:42 PM

Thank you,

An author certainly appreciates comments like that. Can't think of anything I would rather hear from a reader and particularily one who knows Baja.