A day in La Paz, Baja California (1 Viewer)

pcflvly

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This story is from a year ago as I completed my ride through the Baja.

I woke up early, well before the sun. I'd slept rough under a palo verde tree. There was a homeless camp about a hundred yards away under a mesquite. I'd seen their fire when I made camp and saw them rebuild their fire after I awoke in the morning. I don't know if they saw me.

I made coffee on my alcohol stove but lost the whole pot when my stove stuck to the bottom of it. I went to set it down and it tipped and spilled into my shoe. I didn't have enough fuel to make another pot so I packed up and got a coffee at the first convenience store. It was an inauspicious start to a great day. The Baja fed me again.

I rode into La Paz, first to a small beach near the marina where I watched the local fishermen ready their boats and set out to net their day's catch. There was a tarp shack at the edge of the water and a man sleeping there. Another man came from where the fishermen were with food for him, woke him up, and they laughed. I read my book, finishing it before the day warmed.

I rode on then past the marina to the malachon, the boardwalk. I was looking for a place with coffee and Internet. There were many such places. I had my coffee. Then, outside of the cafe, met some people who asked for my story. It often happens that telling my story someone else listens and approaches me afterwards. This time it was a black man in dredlocks sitting with three women. They all donated for stickers, about eighty pesos.

I went back across the calle then and swam in the bay. When I passed back by the cafe, the man and his companions had saved their leftovers for me. So I had breakfast.

I looked then for my amigo, Rainbow Hawk. He spends his days at the Romeo and Juliet cafe. I went there but he wasn't there yet so I went to a plaza where local artists sell their crafts. I met a man and a woman there from Argentina selling necklaces and pendants.

It was one of those days when I meet dozens of people and it's hard to remember every interaction. I would hope to draw a word picture which shows it all but there are so many pieces. I liked the man who was fixing his bicycle tire. He insisted that I accept a hot dog from the stand next to where he was working. He really wanted me to have two but I would only take one. It was delicious too. Understand too that I gave out stickers all day. Always spreading peace and love.

I did find Rainbow Hawk. He played me Nahko, "Aloha ke akua", not knowing how significant that song was to my journey. I had tears in my eyes many times today. Happy tears. Some from telling my story to the girl who made notebooks. She helped me with my Spanish. She related to the communication of the heart. It's more than just telling a story. The message of heart to heart transcends language.

The two hippies from Spain. The owner of the jewelry store. The taxi driver who told me where to find the best fish tacos. The two young guys, one with a pot leaf hat who said he would get me mota but each time it was two more hours. The wild goose chase looking for the bicicleta mecanico. The many local bicyclists each in their bumblebee suits contrasted with the everyday bicycle riders with more utilitarian rides. They were the ones riding early in the day. The hobbyists rode in the evening.

I didn't have enough of La Paz but I rode on at the end of the day. I didn't have time to reach the white sand beach where I wanted to camp but I trusted that I would find a place along the way. I did. It was past all the resorts and the refinery, Solitaire Beach. I met Mike and Alex there. They gave me beer. There was a woman with them and she savored every word I said. She didn't say anything herself until they were leaving then she warmly conveyed how she loved my company. I miss women. She made me realize that.

My camp was tucked back in the shrubs at the beach. It was out of the wind and I had a fire but was fed so well today that I didn't need to cook anything. I waited for the moon to rise and for the tide to come in and slept to the sound of the waves. Peace.

The beach was misnamed though. Rather than Solitaire, it should have been named Novios, lovers. There were people there all night long and in the morning, condom packages all over the beach. Perhaps it was the moon, which surely kept me awake. That and the tide coming in. By morning it was close, I was right by a tidal inlet and as I drank my coffee, I watched the tide change.

I swam in the inlet. I walked the beach and was amazed at the dead fish which a gull was picking at. It looked like a puffer fish with spikes and spots. It hadn't been dead long. I took my time packing. For me, the beach was indeed solitary and quite lovely. I ate and patched my air mattress. I watched the sailboats far out in the bay.

I didn't ride far from there. Only to the ferry terminal where I bought my ticket to Mazatlan. I spent the afternoon between a cafe where I was able to charge my tablet and a nearby beach where a boy and girl were exploring every pool catching crabs and finding things. The boy found a spool of fishing line and I tried to trade him for it. He wouldn't trade for a sticker or anything else I had but soon returned with his sister so that I would give her a sticker. I gave them some snacks that I found in my bags as I sorted and repacked in preparation for the ferry.

Transport to Mazatlan cost fourteen hundred pesos, seventy dollars. I remet the bicyclists from Canada who I had met in Loreto. There were two young women from Chile backpacking with their guitars. There was a young Mexican couple, him with tattoos and her with dredlocks. There were some few Americans traveling the country by bus and ferry.

The military was boarding too. Perhaps fifty of them, all fully armed and there to protect us? I don't know. Security was tight. They were going to make us bicyclists take all our bags from our bikes to put them through the x-ray. Luckily, I was first and when they saw how much trouble it would be for me to remove all my bags, they instead used their dog and quickly let us through.

It was a huge boat with cabins, dining halls, bars, and game rooms. The ticket price included supper. Meat, beans, mashed potatoes, salad, tortillas, and jello. I'd made a friend by then, a Mexican who had two children in Vegas and who had spent fifteen years living in the Caribbean. He joined me for supper.

Then I met a brother. He spoke no English but our hearts knew each other. He bought me beers. We went to the karaoke and, as I sang along, I was noticed and taken to the stage. So I sang in Spanish. I didn't know what most of the words meant but I have timbre and tone and know how to pronounce the language. I'm also not shy and danced as I sang. Well, I won. I got the prize, a Baja Ferries water bottle and a keychain bottle opener. I was a star. I don't know what to say... I'm kind of laughing about it. We only live if we live so why not live fully.

I also should mention being on the ocean again. I love it. No montana. No desierto. Only la mer and el cielo, the sea and sky, and these in the light of the moon. I stood on the deck and remembered how when I sailed, the night was mine. I watched the lights of La Paz fade as if they were the embers of my campfire turning to ashes. I oriented myself by the lights on the shore. Later, I saw the lights of Cabo at the bottom of the peninsula. Later still it was all ocean, no land and no lights but the moon and stars. I find a lot of peace in that. After this mission, perhaps I'll sail again.
 
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Apple Core

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What a lovely story. Simple, and that's good. Simple pleasures are often times some of the greatest that can be found. It wasn't grand or heroic, but also far from ordinary, and obviously enriching and enjoyable. Your style of writing is also very pleasing. Seriously, well done. :)
 

pcflvly

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Man, somehow your writing makes me feel as though, despite the trouble I face right now everything is going to be okay.
You should really consider writing a book, even if its just a collection of short stories such as these.
Thanks. I have at least a couple hundred stories like these and ideas to format it all into a book but am still roaming, still riding, my only electronics a small android tablet. So someday... My friend though, he collected a bunch of my stories and built a website for me, peacefulvalleywalker.com It only covers the first six thousand miles of my journey and I haven't been able to edit it so it starts out slow, I had to learn how to write. It's freely available on the website but please if you are able, leave a donation.
 

CelticWanderer

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Thanks. I have at least a couple hundred stories like these and ideas to format it all into a book but am still roaming, still riding, my only electronics a small android tablet. So someday... My friend though, he collected a bunch of my stories and built a website for me, peacefulvalleywalker.com It only covers the first six thousand miles of my journey and I haven't been able to edit it so it starts out slow, I had to learn how to write. It's freely available on the website but please if you are able, leave a donation.
Ah man ya done made my afternoon. When i start making money again I will keep you in mind.
 

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