The night in the taxi lasted forever. It felt like days! We stopped several times in the coal black night so the driver could stretch his legs and drink from a thermos. To this day I don’t know whether it was soup, coffee, or booze! His driving was so erratic I don’t know if it was the road or substance induced craziness. I’m just happy to be alive to tell the story! Thoughts like that went through my head all night…”My Dad will KILL me if I don’t make it back from a trip he never knew I was on! I could be lost in the Baja Peninsula forever…murdered…left on the side of the road to die of thirst out here in the desert…” It was non-stop. I was exhilarated at the sight of first light. Things always seem scarier in the dark! In the hundreds of miles between towns, the only light was our headlights and the myriad of stars overhead.
Just as the daylight appeared, the road ended. Evidently the Baja Highway wasn’t paved all the way up the Baja. We went from a fairly smooth, paved road to a two lane path of big, white rocks. Was the stuff they put UNDER pavement, I wondered? I had a flashback of something similar on a trip through Canada several years prior with my parents, where there was road construction. Anyway, these rocks were sharp enough to puncture a tire. You guessed it! We had a flat! I was glad we had more than one spare for surely this could happen again. And it did, of course.
But that wasn’t all…just when it looked like we were going to run out of gas, a town would appear and the lone gas station was open. Thank goodness! I had never driven through the desert before…but I just KNEW there was potential for great danger. Every time I became somewhat complacent with our situation (What alternative was there? I was traveling in the middle of nowhere in the only car for miles!), something NEW would happen. It was as though fate was playing with us…we had a flat tire, then a scare where we prayed for a gas station to miraculously appear, another flat tire, and then the road went from rocky to nonexistent. We were now driving on sand. I couldn’t tell if we were forging our own path or if the driver really was following a road. I sure hoped he knew where he was going! GPS wasn’t used back then and I had not seen a map of any kind.
Road signs as I knew them didn’t exist either. At one point Phil and Mary woke up long enough to question where we were. Funny, I had been wondering the same thing since we left Puerto Vallarta so very long ago. But we kept moving forward. Until we came to a fork in the path and we zigged when we should have zagged. A huge cactus impeded our progress and our only recourse was to drive backwards for about a half a mile. When we were back at the crossroad, we took the other path!
A couple hours later we pulled into a small town. Phil perked up. He told the taxi driver to take us to a restaurant. Just then we heard a hissing sound. It was our third flat tire! I couldn’t believe it–THIS is where I’m going to see Jon, right? I wondered why he wasn’t running out to meet us.
We were now in a town called Bahia Tortugas (Turtle Bay). This little village has an extremely protected harbor, and is located mid way down the Baja Peninsula between San Diego and Cabo San Lucas. Most sailors making that voyage stop there for fuel and provisions. Phil and Jon realized they were never going to make the date with us in Puerto Vallarta, so Jon and the Fantasia waited there for us while Phil traveled for days to meet us and to bring us back to this remote location.
All of us in the taxi were a hot mess, literally. We’d been traveling nonstop for days with no shower or fresh clothes. In three days I had traveled over 3000 miles by plane, ferry, bus and taxi through situations I could never have imagined….but when I opened the door to the restaurant and saw him there, sipping nonchalantly on a beer, looking like a wild man with long curly hair and a big smile, none of it mattered!