What better way to block the past few weeks!

Baja Bernie - 12-9-2007 at 05:49 PM

From my book Bouncing Around Baja.

A Taxi to Mulegé

Well, now lookie here. I was just visitin’ the Amigo’s de Baja Bulletin board on the Internet and came across a post by a young guy who was asking about taking a taxi from Loreto to La Paz. I chuckled as I read. His post took me back a few years to when my bride convinced Señor Arce to take us from Loreto back up to Mulegé.

Before I could finish my thought up popped that “Old Ink Slinger,” Jimmy Smith. He told the poor kid that it would cost him an arm and a leg to take a taxi to La Paz. He went on to make several suggestions including taking a bus which was much cheaper but he qualified this by advising the poor guy, “don’t use the baño (bathroom).” The tenderfoot then asked about using traveler’s cheques or a credit card. I could just hear all of the hoots from everybody on the board—even though there was no sound! His spelling of checks ‘sorta’ gave a clue to the fact that he was some kind of foreigner. Next, Skeet piled on and told the little feller that the ATM’s worked just fine, but his checks were just like toilet paper. Boy, that was news to me because in all of my years of wandering around Baja I had only seen ATM’s in Tijuana and Cabo and even then no one in their right minds would use them because the merchants added a ten percent surcharge to your purchase.

Anyway, back to Señor Arce and his beat up old Chevy taxi. We dickered around over price with ‘Chio’ (pronounced Kio) starting out at $100.00 U.S. for the round trip. We finally settled for less than half that amount when I told him that I would be providing free beer and food for the trip. The next morning he picked us up at 8 o’clock and we headed for the closest mercado (market). We bought a Styrofoam ice chest, ice, a bunch of Coronas, a few Cokes, some bread and luncheon meats. We tossed this bounty in the trunk, gassed up and headed north.

Chio proved to be the best guide we could have asked for. Without any prompting he wandered off the main road and down some dirt track to show us things that the average gringo would not see for many more years. Stopping we climbed out and popped a few cervezas and toasted the birds, the sun and the salt smell blowing off the waves. Fantastico! At ‘Bahia San Basilio we just sat on the beach and listened to the silence. No footprints sullied that beautiful beach.

On the way back to the main road we had our first flat tire of the day. Repairs completed we were soon on our way.
Chio pulled off at El Requesόn (cheese) at the south end of Bahia Concepción (conception) where we rolled up our pants and wadded into the cool waters. It was over a hundred degrees in the sun and there was no shade. We lunched as we watched the sea birds flying over and onto Isla Requesόn. No waves here; just the gentle lapping of the sea. The bay was more like a warm swimming pool.

Idyllic, but as we pulled back up to the road a second tire blew. No, he didn’t carry two spares. I asked Señor Arce what we were to do. He just laughed and told me that one of his cousins would be coming by soon. How could this be, I thought, we had only seen two trucks all morning. But, not to worry! We just opened the cooler and had a few cool ones as we waited by the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, for his cousins.

Until a few years ago almost every Mexican in Baja drove a Chevy in preparation for just such an event. Almost any part could be interchanged from one Chevy to another. That is why these sensible people do a lot of the things they do. Anyway, about six cervezas later his cousin Maria pulled over to visit. She was just returning from Calexico where she had been to the swap meet to purchase clothes for resale in Loreto. By the time we found her spare tire we had a pile of clothes ten feet high along side of the road. We shared another beer and then we were off.

Pulling into the dirty, dusty, sleepy little village of Mulegé we found the whole town was asleep. Siesta time comes early and lasts late in this tropical spot along the Sea of Cortez. The llantera (tire) shop was closed up tight. A couple of camp dogs glanced at us then settled back in the shade. While we waited for the shops to open we wandered up to the old Mision and to the prison. Even the guards were asleep. Just outside Mulege is a beautiful oasis with palm trees and flowers everywhere—but way too hot and muggy for Lu Ann and I.

It was only much later that Mike and Keri told us that this oasis was called the Orchard. Mike told us how the scorpions shared the palapas with it’s human inhabitants. He told us he had a “scorp O matic, a two pound rubber mallet, that he used to make juice out of the scorpions after they fell from the roof. Nasty! Keri added the fact that with the ‘palm meadow bugs’ (two inch c-ckroaches) it was a constant fight to keep them out of the food supplies. They both laughed and said that the weather was wonderful and the fishing was out of this world.

The tire shop opened and we (I) bought two used (never new-just newer) tires and we were soon on our way back to Loreto. All in all it was a wonderful little trip that did not cost an arm and a leg—just a couple of used tires and some beer.
This was also the trip that Lu Ann learned the value of hair spray. We had been plagued with bugs large enough to carry a small person away during our entire stay at the newly opened El Presidente Hotel, but everything was okay because she could holler at me to come squash the critters.

At the airport she had a need to visit the baño before we took off for the rat race on the otra lado (the other side). Suddenly, she came rushing out screaming, running, and trying to pull her pants up. When I stopped laughing she told me, in a huff, that a giant c-ckroach, at least four inches long, had attempted to crawl up her pants leg. Knowing I wouldn’t enter the ladies room she pulled out her trusty can of hair spray and nailed that marauding critter to the pavement.

Froze it solid.

bajadedom - 12-16-2007 at 07:10 PM

As I try and decide if I should give up the rat race and live quietly in Baja - I hope the spirit is still this way....I'm not a rich man but I don't need a whole lot either....just a little spirit..

Paulina - 12-16-2007 at 07:30 PM

That was probably the best taxi ride I've ever heard of, and that poor bug getting Aqua Netted on the spot! Too funny. I bet that has never happened before, Lu Ann was on the spot with quick thinking!
Thank you for sharing.