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Author: Subject: Huivulai
Oso
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[*] posted on 5-25-2005 at 08:54 PM
Huivulai


Well this wasn't Baja per se, but it was Sea of Cortez, and I was (hitch) hiking and I had a backpack (1943 rucksack).

Baja Bernie is to blame for bugging me to "publish" it.

Huivulai

By Oso

As the convoy of Volkswagen Beetles rolled past, one peeled out of formation and stopped where I stood with my thumb out, somewhere near Guadalajara.

?? A ?onde vas, g?ero??

?Los Angeles?, I replied. I wouldn?t be that lucky, but he was going as far as Guaymas, which was quite a boost. The ride would not be free, but reasonable. I had dealt with these guys before. There were no auto transport trailers in Mexico in those days. VW?s rolled off the assembly line in Cuernavaca and straight out the gate to M?rida, TJ and points between. The odometers would be connected after arrival at the dealerships. Meanwhile, the drivers would pick up a few extra pesos by picking up a few passengers here and there. The company would also help to keep them awake as they sped, pedal to the metal, through the night, dodging cows and burros and ?breaking in? the engines.

We settled on ninety pesos, about seven bucks at the time. I threw my WWII G.I. surplus rucksack, two years older than myself, in the back and commended body and soul to the image of St. Christopher, dangling temporarily from the rear view mirror. Just as well now, that I didn?t know then, that Chris was bogus.

We picked up another rider in Mazatl?n and I moved to the back seat, grateful to pass on the duty of entertaining the driver and grab some Z?s. They shook me awake about 4:00 AM.

???ndele g?erito, ya estamos en Guaymas!?

I unfolded my legs and stumbled groggily down the dark and silent streets. The only thing open was a licuado stand. I had a banana and raw egg shake with a sprinkle of cinnamon for breakfast and asked what the best beach for camping might be.

?Huivulai?, they said. So I headed off in the direction they pointed.

Block after silent block, I walked. The street became a road. Gardens became fields. The houses thinned out. The fifty pounds of unnecessary crap in my rucksack got heavier. ?Damn!?, I thought, ?I don?t remember the beach being this far from the highway last time I was in Guaymas.?

There was no traffic. The sliver of red sun, peeking over the mountains to my left, revealed acres and acres of vegetable fields as far as I could see. No beach. No crash of surf. Not even a damn seagull. I was in the middle of freakin? nowhere.

Back down the road, a blue speck grew into the pickup truck of my salvation. I stuck out my thumb and, gracias a Dios, it stopped. One of the three guys in the cab asked where I was going.

?Weevil Eye??, I asked, not really sure of anything anymore. The driver nodded and I climbed in the back. We rolled through rich, flat farmlands. I enjoyed the sunrise, happy to be riding instead of walking. Riding in the back of a truck, whether a pickup or a deuce and a half stakebed, is the best way to see Mexico. Fresh air, 360 degree view, it beats the hell out of being crammed into an aluminum cigar tube at 30,000 feet.

I always had great luck thumbing, south of the border. Mexicans have got to be the most hospitable people in the world, except for the rich, maybe. I?ve been all over the republic via ?el gordo? (the thumb). Never once did an American tourist or a wealthy Mexican in an expensive car stop for me. But trucks? I rarely had more than a dozen go by before one would stop.

And the poor? The poor share what they have. Some cynics would say that?s why they?re poor. Even flat-ass broke, I?ve never gone hungry in Mexico. Aside from restaurants, I?ve never been in the presence of people eating without being offered food with a smile and a shake of the head when I offered to pay. Of course, I didn?t look like I had any money in those days, probably due to the fact that I didn?t have any money. Even when I?d flag down a third class chicken bus, the driver would sometimes wave off payment.

After a few miles, we turned off the main road. In response to my quizzical look, the driver made a back and forth motion with his hand curled around an imaginary cylinder of some kind. I thought it was a little early to knock back a cold one, but what the hell, why not? We rolled past some nice horse pastures with white board fences, around a barn-like structure and stopped a few yards from?

Good Lord, it was a helicopter! Rotors spinning, the engine was warming up in anticipation of the pilot. This turned out to be the driver of the pickup. He marched straight to the chopper with no further explanation than a wave of his arm and a shout of ??S?bate!?.

Somewhat dumbfounded, I did as he said and climbed into the plexiglass bubble, ruck between my knees. I?d barely clicked the seatbelt before we were in the air over a vast crazyquilt of green and brown fields. Finally, in the distance I could see the blue line of the Sea of Cortez. Now I understood the hand gesture! He?d been pantomiming the joystick steering control.

Iba?ez Abascal was his name. Funny how after all these years, I can remember the apellido but not the first name. I admire people with memories like filing cabinets, all that info in neat chronological order, indexed by categories. My memory is like an old cigar box, full of unlabeled photos, odd smells and tastes, clippings without datelines. I kept Sr. Iba?ez?s card in just such a box for years, but I never saw him again.

Over the roar of the engine, he told me that he had been a pilot in ?La Guerra Grande?, a member of the 201st. Mexico was officially neutral during WWII. El Escuadr?n Dos Cientos Uno was a group of volunteer Mexican pilots who fought with the Allies, much like the Lafayette Escadrille of WWI. He said he shot down four Japanese planes. I took that with a grain of salt, but managed to produce a look of appropriate awe. And why not? It was no more remarkable than anything else that had happened or would happen that day.

?Ahora mato moscas.?, (Now I kill flies), he said, pointing to the spray rigs projecting from either side of his cropduster.

A few minutes later, we were over a small island that looked like nothing more than a big sandbar connected to the mainland by a gravel causeway.

??Huivulai!?, he announced as we set down on the beach near some beer shacks. He gave me his card and invited me to look him up on my way back to Mexico City after my semi-annual trip to the border to renew my tourist card. I always meant to do that, but somehow never did.

I wondered what impression was in the minds of the people in the beer shacks as they were invaded by hitch-hiking hippies in helicopters. They looked at me with curiosity but said nothing as I purchased an Orange Crush. They had no ice or electricity and that was the only soda I could ever stand to drink ?a tiempo?.

I wandered off down the beach, looking for a place to camp. There were no trees. No vegetation, nothing but sand. The sun and the temperature rose in concert. Finally, about a mile from the shacks and 105 degrees Fahrenheit, I spotted a scraggly bush sticking out of the side of a dune. It cast maybe five square feet of shade over a wind-carved depression. I climbed up, flopped down and dozed off.

Some time later, the movement of the sun moved the shade and I slowly awakened. There was an unfamiliar object in my field of vision. As my eyes focused, the reality of what I was looking at crept down the back of my neck like a trickle of ice water. Coiled about a foot from my face, was a fine medium-sized specimen of Crotalus Cerastus Cercombus, otherwise known as a Sonoran Desert Sidewinder.

It was not rattling or moving at all and appeared to be enjoying a siesta the same as I was, or rather had been. Apparently it had joined me in my slumber. I reasoned that the snake was probably the original leaseholder of this particular seaside condo. It had been, like all its countrymen, very hospitable. Upon finding an unexpected squatter in its domain, it had made no effort to evict me, but simply settled down beside me to share the meager shade.

As appreciative as I was of this hospitality, I decided not to overstay my welcome. I don?t think I?ve ever moved, before or since, with as much quiet grace. Not even breathing, I somehow managed to levitate backwards without disturbing a grain of sand. The rattler never woke up.

I humped my ruck back up the beach at a considerably brisker pace than when I?d arrived. When I got to the shacks, I needed a beer, room temperature or not. When I described the encounter, the barkeep dismissed it with a shrug.

?Animalitos inofensivos?, he said. ?No molestan a nadie.?

I cut my camping plans short, deciding to leave this island jewel of the Cortez to the inoffensive little animals and headed towards the causeway to the mainland.

I caught a ride with a couple of locals and asked if they could drop me off at the Guaymas bus station. They said they couldn?t go that far, they were only going downtown. ?Downtown where??, I asked ?Why, downtown Ciudad Obregon of course. That?s the only town around here.?

The lying sonofab-tch in the Volkswagen had shortchanged me, dumping me off 120 kilometers short of Guaymas and fifty klicks inland. Why? Who knows? Maybe my snoring bothered him. If so, I?m just glad it didn?t bother my ?host? on Huivulai.




All my childhood I wanted to be older. Now I\'m older and this chitn sucks.
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Santiago
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[*] posted on 5-25-2005 at 10:00 PM


Nice one, Oso - plum forgot about it.
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[*] posted on 5-25-2005 at 10:10 PM


Well, I missed this story back on the Amigos board. So, I'm glad you decided to post it again. I've always enjoyed your posts, your perspective on Mexico, and your ability to communicate them well. Thanks for sharing.
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[*] posted on 5-25-2005 at 10:21 PM
Oso...


I have to admit I've retold the 'island visit' part of your tale a number of times - it's one of my favorites!

It gives me the 'creeps' just to think of that snake 'side stepping' its way to your (it's) shady place - maybe moving around you body deciding that you were too large a warm meal to invest in at that moment. Or maybe it was just keeping 'guard' for you, knowing you needed the rest!

I've been up close and personal with any number of rattlesnakes during my days - but NOT that 'up close'!

Thanks again for your tale...




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[*] posted on 5-26-2005 at 01:28 PM
Oso


Well Sir! You proved me right again. Thanks---You also posted a bunch of stuff about your camper (I believe) and your wanderings around on the mainland side the the Vermillion Sea,

Your connection with the Mexican people and their humor is what I appreciate most in all of your postings. To know them is to love them. Even a few of the rich ones are a bunch of fun to be around--but not most.

Thanks again.




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[*] posted on 5-26-2005 at 03:30 PM


I found it. nice story thanks Oso

[Edited on 5-26-2005 by Bruce R Leech]




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[*] posted on 5-26-2005 at 07:10 PM
Bruce


Every word was perfect--are you sick????



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[*] posted on 5-26-2005 at 08:56 PM


Thanks Bernie. but no they weren't. I'm kinda proud of it and I appreciate all the kind words. But, I know a real pro lit critic would find errors in structure etc. Maybe when I "jubilarme" in a few years, I'll have time to get serious about this kind of thing.



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[*] posted on 5-27-2005 at 05:55 AM


Thanks Oso! I enjoyed it more this time around. Wayno
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[*] posted on 5-27-2005 at 08:16 AM


Ay Dios Mio, Oso, that was some fine fun reading, you just can't imagine how much I enjoyed it and empatized with you adventure.

It brought back so many memories of those times, (I too spent a few years with an old army nap sack on my back hitching all over Mexico, even slept next to a rattler except he wasn't friendly and it was on the beach next to Catch 22 out of San Carlos, amazing paralles). I am dumbfounded with what to say except I want MORE., please, please, tell us another story. Gracias, Sara
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[*] posted on 5-27-2005 at 06:53 PM


How about we see YOUR story next, Sara? I'm really curious how your encounter of the slithery kind went. The Catch 22 was a boat or what? The last time I was in San Carlos was in the mid 60's about the time of this story or within a year or two. At the time there were only about a dozen gringo houses there.



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[*] posted on 5-27-2005 at 08:17 PM


Oso, where exactly is this beach and can we buy it and build condominiums?



“We must always be ready to kill anybody who doesn’t love peace as much as we do.” President Obama
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[*] posted on 5-28-2005 at 08:05 AM


If you mean San Carlos, it's been done. If you mean Huivulai, who knows? It's more or less due west of Ciudad Obregon. I have no idea whether or not it's been condofied yet. I don't think it ever caught on with gringos, but it's been 40 yrs. At the time it was a weekend spot for Cd. O locals. I bet it's just crying for a good NY-style Deli. Are rattlesnakes kosher? They got scales.
:?:




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[*] posted on 5-28-2005 at 01:00 PM


Oso,

Catch 22 airstrip was where they filmed the movie Catch 22, app. 8 kilometers North of San Carlos. I expect it did not exisit when you were there in the 60's, nor would I expect to find it now. My relationship with the place occured just a few years after your own experinse with the area, early to mid 70's.

Someday, I will come out full face forward with who I was than and write the story of sleeping in an angry rattlers alcove. When I do, you and Nomads will be the first to know.
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[*] posted on 5-28-2005 at 06:26 PM


We're waiiting with baited breath.



All my childhood I wanted to be older. Now I\'m older and this chitn sucks.
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[*] posted on 5-29-2005 at 01:07 AM


Quote:
Originally posted by Oso
Are rattlesnakes kosher? They got scales.
:?:


To qualify, it's fins and scales.




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[*] posted on 5-30-2005 at 08:02 PM


Senterfitt shows the Catch 22 paved runway in his Airports book! When I get back home, I will show you guys... It is NOT an open runway... at least after the movie was filmed!



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