April 25, 2009

Whatever floats your boat?

We knew of a guy whom I’ll call Joe because he was a lot like Joe Btfsplk from the L’il Abner cartoon strip; someone who walks around with a cloud over his head. He isn’t a bad person; he just has incredible bad luck. He and his wife started the drive down here pulling a trailer full of their household goods to come work on the Boleo mine project. They were looking forward to working on the job as well as the fishing, playing and laid back Baja lifestyle.

If you’ve ever driven down the highway in Baja you will know how dangerous it can be. The lanes are quite narrow. The roadway is set upon a berm above the surrounding terrain and the shoulders are practically non-existent—if you get a wheel off the edge its apt to be curtains. There are lots of vados (dips) and curves that block things from being visible to you at a distance. Hazards include big trucks that come barreling along sometimes gobbling up part of your lane especially on curves; very slow vehicles that pile up lines of cars behind impatient to pass; impatient drivers who pass on blind curves and drive way too fast for the road; wandering and sometimes aggressive livestock such as big mean cattle or goats and burros; and stupid gringo bicyclers with overstuffed backpacks who endanger everyone by trying to fit on a 12-inch-wide shoulder and creating a real issue when two vehicles need to pass each other. My worst fear is intercepting a lane gobbling truck coupled with a bicycler in the same breath. The road is posted with signs trying to keep drivers at the speed limit or from passing at inappropriate places. One of my favorites is ‘major tarde que nunca’ or ‘better late than never.’

In any event, Joe had an accident just south of Tijuana and his wife was seriously injured. Joe left the scene of the accident to take her to a hospital. When he came back the police were there and arrested him for leaving, even though she might have bleed to death. Joe had to abandon his vehicle and trailer on the roadside to go off with the police. He was released from jail the same day, and the cops took him back to his vehicle that was being robbed at the time by some bad men. The cops told him not to interfere or those men would beat him up.

Eventually he managed to get his car, what was left of his stuff and his recuperating wife down to Santa Rosalia. Then on a separate trip back to the U.S., Joe collected a brand new 22-foot fishing boat that he trailered down. He got her all the way to Santa Rosalia without incident, then as he was parking the boat he backed her up onto a curb he couldn’t see and damaged the rudder and the propellers. He couldn’t find anyone repair such damage properly. The boat sat unrepaired for a year. About that time the mine project was put on hold due to world economic woes, and Joe lost his job. Joe decided to call it quits with Baja and the boat, and put her up for sale. One time we drove by and saw some Mexicans checking her out. Apparently Joe was finally able to sell her. We are sure he didn’t make any money on the deal.

Now Esperando has joined in with a group of his guys in a weight loss contest. The loser has to buy a fishing trip for the rest. A couple days ago as we were driving by the ferry building, Esperando said, “Hey look—there’s Joe’s boat!” La Miramar was sitting all shiny and pretty on her trailer with a big sign advertising that the new owner would charter fishing trips. Esperando called the number and left a message and has never been contacted. Maybe that’s a bad omen. I think maybe a lot of Joe’s bad luck may have rubbed off on the boat and like a sleeping dog, we should just let it lie. What do you think?

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