Arriving in San Felipe is like arriving in heaven; shade, palm trees, restaurants. Long, lazy beaches. We found a hotel off the main road, and ordered margaritas and fish tacos across the street. I noted the whalebone kitsch, the all-terrain vehicles, the jet-skis, the dune buggies. Everybody was driving crazy, drunk. Portly sun-baked Americans were speeding about in rusty Mad Max mobiles.

It was a shame, such a beautiful town, and for all the respect I had for the expatriate, who were these people rebuilding Phoenix in Baja? Panhandling was incessant in San Felipe. It was back to 'Hey Meester, wanna look at some of my junk?'

This is a sort of evolution that happens when you mix the third-world with the turista's natural poor purchasing practices. Panhandlers sold walking dog sticks, balloons in the shape of poodles, bags of beans, unworthy curios, and t-shirts of Bart and a Bong.

But there were also sailors in the harbor. After all, it was Fourth of July, and sailors are good drinkers, friendly storyteller types, and usually, they knew how to have a good time. At night, we walked into the sea, out several hundred meters (the tides in San Felipe create a quarter-mile tidal change), poking in the shallows with flashlights. From here we saw the fireworks begin; launching from shore and from the moored boats; all aimed above our heads. Weary from the road, we let the ashes fall to our right and left; it was grand, really, the fireworks dropping and reflecting on the water underneath us in red, white and blue. When a stray red flash of fireworks shot across the water a dozen meters from us, and broke in an Apocalypse Now glow over the water, we had a strange feeling of being invincible, protected somehow, and certainly outsiders.