the way we happened across our third overturned truck. This one hadn't
been so lucky, considering the black ash surrounding its hull, the ambulances.
The chassis may be Mercedes or Freightliner, "but," said Father, "the
weight-load is sometimes four times capacity. The truck just buckles under
the pressure." Overturned trucks are commonplace in Baja; northward freight
is a tight business, deadlines are tough to meet, roads have tight curves;
a recipe for disaster.
stopped at a Federale outpost,for questioning. A shrimpy sport said, "You speak Spanish?"
"Absolutely not a word."
"Open your trunk."
"Nice backpack," the federale said to my brother.
"How much does it cost?"
"Two hundred pesos?"
"Two hundred dollars." He examined it with his counterpart, looking at
the straps, and the way the cumberbund was fashioned. I respected the
admiration, because it spoke of their tough desert training, and respect
the local Policia, the young Federale is motivated not by corruption,
but by adventure. The shrimpy Federale said, "you want to learn some Spanish?"
"Yeah," Hans said.
The boy hung his hands below his chest and said, "Chicas. You like Chicas?"
His pudgier comrade with an AK-47, who was watching a fly, took a moment
to pause and say, "Chicas," he said. "Chicas." North of Guerrero Negro,
we followed the tangled system of unused roads to the sea and left the
truck in the road. Brother and Father walked north, into miles of white-grey
dunes. I began to set camp before following their footsteps along the
sea, where dunes spilled into a slender bay - part of a system of lagoons
that bear the annual migration of the once extinct-bound gray whale.