Este edificio estaba totalmente abandonado, pero Kordell pudo echarle un nosegrind de 180 antes de volver al camino. Foto: Swainston
Chapter One: The Road
It all started with an opportunity to catch a free ride to Bahia de Kino, Mexico. The whole idea seemed impossible to me. How could I have fallen into a chance occurrence of driving to Mexico for an eight-day stay on the beach? The idea was so alluring and romantic that there was no possible way I could pass it up, especially knowing we would be driving, not flying. Traveling by road is a grand excitement that borders on obsession for me. Escaping society’s cages is what I find so attractive: venturing away from the web of concocted comforts that I frequently find myself tangled in and rendering myself vulnerable to the endless possibilities and unknown opportunities the road can offer. The longer you drive, the higher your chances become of experiencing something spectacular. It’s impossible to know what lies around the next corner: love, clarity, fortune, misfortune, knowledge or even the most chilling possibility—death.
It was time to unplug from my iPod, log out of Facebook and let all those obnoxious Tweets fade away with my 3G phone service. Kay Black would be our beloved pilot. Her son Kordell was the safety keeper. Adam Dorobiala and I were the booze and cruise crew. We planned to leave at 6 AM Saturday, so naturally I waited until midnight to pack and stayed out until 2 AM. I prefer traveling with a slight disconnect from my senses. It helps me clear my mind and merge into a dream-like state, especially when the next day-and-a-half is to be spent in the back seat of a Tahoe. Dreaming away the day is the closest one can come to time travel. We blared south through snow-covered conifer forests to warm desert land thriving with saguaro cacti. The journey was too long to accomplish in one day, so we cut it in half and spent a night in Tucson, Arizona. Short of an Italian dinner and a few Mickey’s tall cans, not much happened that evening, but Dorobiala and I still managed to stay out until 2 AM. Four hours later, we were back on the road heading for the border.
Chapter Two: The Richest Men of the Land
Crossing the Mexican border couldn’t have been simpler—coming back would prove to be entirely the opposite. The guards only asked a few questions, one of which was asked twice: “Do you have more the $10,000 USD?” I chuckled under my breath, thinking, “I’ve never even seen $10,000 USD, let alone had more than that.” Clearly we looked like millionaires if they had to ask twice. Fake it ‘til you make it, they say, and in a few short moments, when I exchanged my American money into Pesos at the rate of 1-11, I felt as if I had made it.
Even though we had crossed into Mexico, we still had four hours of driving before reaching our destination. The border towns were densely congested with shanty shacks constructed of anything that was available. In cities like these, the resources are so minimal that everything has value and nothing is wasted—in many ways, it is a very estimable way of living. However, don’t let this imagery jade your vision of Mexico cities. We passed through fully developed, westernized cities with car dealerships and strip malls and drove past weekend baseball games in dirt fields into small towns and cities where street vendors literally worked the middle of the roads at speed bumps selling everything from orange juice to caged birds to passing cars.
Once we arrived, I was bewildered at the house we would be staying in. Far nicer than my home in SLC, it was fully equipped: three bedrooms, two bathrooms, clean hot water all day, backyard, glass bungalow facing the beach and a back patio. All of this less than 50 steps from the ocean—we were definitely living like millionaires now. The hot sun warmed our frozen winter cores, and the cool sea breeze blew away all of our inhibitions. We strolled to the Tecate deposito for some cerveza then back to the beach to claim our land. Scavenging in the sand for random objects, we created a small garden that marked our territory with a makeshift flag and, most importantly, the tree. When you’re in a land of no trees and you have the only tree, you are the richest man of the land. This proved to be true when three local senioritas, enticed by our tree, bashfully came to sit with us. They couldn’t stay long, for they had to return home to Hermosillo. Their amorous essence would linger for days.
Chapter Three: Defecation, a Rolled Ankle and a Broken Board
We hit the streets hard the first couple days, skating everything we could find. Kordell eagle-eyed the first spot from the highway before we even made it to Kino. An old crumbling building was nesting a banked ledge beneath the rubble. Once in Kino, we found a perfect pole jam, gap to flat bar and a gap over a stair set. The streets were rugged, the run ups short, but all that mattered was exploring any possible spot and shredding everything in our path. A couple days later, while hunting out more spots, I fell victim to a rolled ankle. It wasn’t completely incapacitating, but nevertheless I was out for two days. On the fourth day, we drove into Old Kino (this is the local town and neighborhood rich with culture) in search of more spots. The first thing we came across was a steep seven rail under a park pavilion. Kordell started jumping on it right from the car. After getting pitched to flat a few times, he stomped a back 50 and immediately started going for 5-0. On a fully committed attempt with bad foot placement, he stomped his board in half. A broken board is a sad sight when there isn’t a shop for hundreds of miles. Later that day, Dorobiala was stricken with a mild bout of dysentery that confined him to close quarters with the toilet for the next day-and-a-half. Even with our sudden strike of misfortune, our spirits were still soaring. The beer was cheap, the food plentiful and only the Greek goddess Gaia could match the landscape’s beauty. We lounged like African lions in the Kalahari and let our bellies swell with gluttony. Time had no relevance and obligation had no meaning.
Chapter Four: A Night in Navajo Country
Friday was our last day. Our behaviors were almost ritual at this point, with the morning’s walk to the beach garden and visit to the Tecate deposito. Adam was back in full swing, so we went on one last mission to skate a previously eyed bank to ledge. From there, the four-pack went trinket shopping and shell hunting at a secluded beach near a small fishing village. The winds on the beach were fierce, scaring Kay and Kordell away, but Dorobiala and I ventured on. Our strong exploratory urges had been slightly suppressed and needed an outlet. We stumbled upon exotic shells, dead ocean creatures and a couple shipwrecked fishing boats, one of which had almost been completely devoured by the earth—only the engine block and a scarce bit of the ship’s skeleton remained. Once again, we were scheduled to leave at 6 AM Saturday, so naturally I took to the tequila bottle for some mental clarity and trip preparation. It was another day-and-a-half drive home, with a night’s stay in Page, Arizona.
Restless minds and cramped legs need to venture out. The booze and cruise crew took to the Page streets for one last thrill. We stumbled into the local bowling alley/pool hall/bar. All the locals were out—this was the Saturday night hot spot. A heated pool tournament was well underway. I took a seat at the bar and waited for a table to open. When you’re a lone wolf trying to amalgamate into an alien wolf pack, you must heed your surroundings. Come off too aggressive and you’ll surely be mauled and eaten—too submissive, and you’ll be outcast and dominated. The pool table was the cohesive force binding the cruise and booze crew to the Navajo wolf pack. The games were played with careful precision. Wanting to be an inviting challenge, I couldn’t play too fast, but needed to win to keep the table. As the racks cracked away with the hours of the night, we were accepted into the pack. The alley closed, but it was no time for sleep—time enough for that when I’m dirt in the ground. We traveled on to Gunsmoke, the local nightclub. Indulging in drunkenness on the dance floor, the night almost faded to black, when suddenly the lights kicked on and everyone birthed back into the streets. Aimlessly wandering in the parking lot, we found ourselves in the back seat of an unknown car. Where are we going? Who cares? Let’s just get there. It was early morning by this time, verging on 3 AM. There were four of us now, perched in a living room drunkenly babbling on about art, life and travels. It’s times like that, sitting with a complete stranger as if they are your closest kin, that I search for when traveling. Hours faded quickly with enjoyment, but we had to get back to the hotel soon. A ritual peace pipe was passed around to bless us on our journeys, and we were off. It was 5 AM when Dorobiala and I crept back into the hotel. The journey had come to an end—falling face down in bed, fully clothed, drifting into a distorted parallel reality and dream consciousness.