tried to communicate with them about the contents of the bag, "Pescado?"
"No, Senor." It was futile, of course, and so I drew an aquarium - a square,
some fish, and some pebbles.
Senor. Si," he said as I pointed to the pebbles. Aquarium pebbles.
"How much do you get for each bag?" Father asked.
"You want to buy?" the
Mexican asked, used to Americanos asking the prices of things.
how much they pay you for each bag?"
"Ah, Senor. Seven dollars."
Seven dollars a bag. Not bad. "But the demand can't warrant much. Otherwise
they wouldn't be hauling these bags one-by-one," we said, driving the
dirt road to the Transpeninsular Highway One.
We were playing Charles
Mingus on this unusually clear day; the view of the volcanic tablelands
was brilliant; coastal volcanoes, and islands of them to the north. Some
time ago, the crust of the earth which floats on a bed of fire, shifted
here - the pacific plate pulled its way from the North American plate,
creating a rift which allowed the Pacific to flow into what is now the
Sea of Cortez.
created Baja California - a uniquely odd and thin Peninsula of land which
extends south from San Diego for eight-hundred miles. This, the northern
edge of the great Vizcaino Desert is but sandstone, shale, and conglomerate
deposited in a basin: A product of an age geologists call the Cretaceous.
The black rocks, however, come from that series of oceanic spires that
begin somewhere north of San Quintin and follow, more or less, our route
onto land and into the citrus plains of Baja Sur. The volcanos were also
a product of the stretching of Mexico; as if the belly of the Earth were
split here. Unlike the paler rocks, these were produced in a single spout
of flame. The limestones and sandstones formed over the millennia; deposited
silt in what was then underwater.
officials, I thought, passing into the Southern state of Baja Sur. In
Tijuana, and five minutes into Mexico, the Policia had fired up their
sirens and signaled us out. "Oh, Shit," Father said as we reared to the
side of the road. The two of them began to whisper about how your supposed
to take their offer to the police station. The officers, with their snazzy-jelled
haircuts and uncut black uniforms said,
"You speak Spanish?"
"None of us speak a word of Spanish," I said.
"You realize you are speeding?"
I was driving 45 mph. "No sir."
"Have you ever been pulled over in Mexico before, sir?"
"May I see your registration, please?"