Friday, February 27, 2009

Sickness and Stabwounds

"It has been said, and truely, that everything in the desert either stings, stabs, stinks, or sticks. You will find the flora here as venomous, hooked, barbed, thorny, prickly, needled, saw toothed, hairy, stickered, mean, bitter, sharp, wiry, and feirce as the animals. Something about the desert inclines all living things to harshness and acerbity. The soft evolve out." Edward Abbey.

The viscaino desert being no exception. Seems like weeks of pulling stickers out of my socks, out of my tires, my tent, sleepingbag, the rubber soles of my tennis shoes for chrissakes. Left the pacific side of Baja to howling tailwinds, flat roads, and 217 kilometers of wide open desert between us and the other coast. Night in the sand outside of Viscaino Junction on the grounds of an old oil transfer station, fog in the desert in the morning, burning off to a blazing day. Highway stretching for miles in either direction. Evening brought us upon San Ignacio, a desert oasis in the true sense of the word. Camped upon the shore of a lake in the shade of a grove of date palms for two days and two nights, Jason nursing the first in a series of stomache ailments. La tourista. Montezuma´s revenge. Call it what you will but its not pretty.
More desert. Finally the Gulf coast. Santa Rosalia. Colonized by the french. Think of a poorer, less sophisticated New Orleans. Onward through Mulege. Camping too expensive due to the droves of canadian r.v ists. The scurge of the broke traveller. For every r.v willing to pay 20 bucks a night for a place to park their "rig" is a campground owner with the nerve to ask 7 bucks a head for tent camping. No thanks. I´ll take the desert. The cactus. The seedpods that stick not only through the leather on your shoes, but through your tarp, your tent, your sleepingmat AND sleeping bag keeping you awake all night.
Finally, finally, finally. The beach. White sands and blue green waters. Bahia de conception, Coyote beach. Our own little Palapa and nothing but the sea the sky and the mountains across the bay in front of us. Out of the salt caked and rotten, sun baked bike shorts. Into the water. Cool and clear and so good on the skin. Walking out into deeper waters, something attacks my foot. Sharp pain shooting up through my leg. I stumble and then duck into the water, pulling my feet from the sandy floor and hoping for the pain to subside. Not doing. Swim to shore Even in the shallows, weary of touching bottom again. Foot bleeding from what is only a 1cm knick in the top. Blood somehow thick and stringy. Pain becoming unbearable. Something´s wrong.
"You get hit by a stingray?" It´s the old man in the neighboring campsite.
"Don´t know what else it´d be." I reply, wincing throughn the pain.
"Well, get some hot water on that, as soon as possible, as hot as you can bear. It´s mating season I hear. Those things are everywhere."
"Thanks for the tip." I say, trying to stay cordial, thinking, "little late for the warning you old fucker."
All annoyance aside, the old man´s advice did do some good. Pouring boiling water on the wound seemed to drown out the pain, now pulsing through the entire foot. Hours pass. Any number of half-assed and improvised home remedies. Hot water, lavender oil, Mezcal, Beer, sleep.
Wake to the sun rising over the bay. Glowing gold and bright in the morning sky. The water clear and glassy as a lake. Foot looks like a baby´s all padding, not definition. To fat to fit into a bike shoe. Wouldn´t be going anywhere anyway if Jason weren´t already doubled over, clutching his stomache. Up all night vomiting. Not going anywhere.
Not a bad place to be stuck though, on a sandy mexican beach in the shade of a palapa on a beautiful bay. Not to bad. Not bad at all.
Two more days on the beach. Sleeping under the dome of the stars. Watching a pod of dolfins play in the pitch black waters, their movements made visible only by the bioluminecent red tide. Breakfast infront of a fire at sunrise. Sea Kyaking at dawn. Exploring the islands off shore. Swimming naked in the cool, clear, water of an untouched, deserted beach (with a rock bottom this time) enjoying life despite its pitfalls.
Now. Loreto. Foot back to its former size. Jason now only sore from all the heaving. a return to the city and some sense of normalcy. Moving slowly but enjoying it. May hit La Paz in a week or so. Then ferry to the mainland. What´s the rush anyway?

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