Monday, April 22, 2013

La Comunidad de Pescadores

I clear customs with a minimum of fuss, though, por supuesto, of course, I’m “randomly selected” for a more thorough checkout. But the inspección de a mano of my camera gear and big rolling duffle is quick, efficient, and performed with good humor; more than I can say for the preceding thirty-six hours of air travel hell. What’s an extra five minutes when you’re already a day late?

Ultimately deemed harmless enough to be allowed to enter the country, I pass through the cool blue departure lounge, undecided as to whether the pervasive low rumble is my duffle’s resonation on the smooth tile floor or the internal reverberation of accumulated stress brought on by the litany of bad timing, disruptive weather, and missed flights. Reaching no definitive conclusion, I exit the chamber via the huge, sea-green-tinted glass doors, stepping into the brilliant Baja afternoon…

…and into the melee.

The party has started for my fellow travelers. Most are on their way south, to Cabo San Lucas, and the makeshift welcome bar that is set up immediately outside of the airport exit is doing a brisk and noisy business. My brief customs delay has given my compadres a head start on the festivities. Viva las vacaciones!

But my focus is beyond the bar, though the temptation to linger is overwhelming. I am heading the other direction, north, an hour or so, towards Los Barriles, and I’m uncertain as to how I’m going to get there. I skip the cerveza, for the moment, and look ahead, towards the road, into an even more chaotic scene.

Beyond the party I enter a gauntlet of energetic Hispanic gentlemen, most in their thirties and forties, all waving, all smiling, all holding aloft placards of a dizzying array. Taxi services. Hotel shuttles. Other indecipherable options. And interspersed among them are signs with surnames; some beautifully lettered on whiteboard, most hastily scribbled on rough notepaper. Robinson. Meyer. The Dortmund Wedding.

None say Sepelak.

Someone’s dropped la pelota.

To be fair, I was supposed to be here yesterday and the digital connection to my ultimate destination is problematic in the best of times, let alone while grabbing iPhone-sized snippets of bandwidth between hastily rearranged flight plans. Forget voice connections. It’s increasingly clear that I’m on my own from this point forward. At least I'm in the right country.

I look to the crowd of gentlemen and they sense my desperation.

Amigo! You need a ride? Come with me. Vamos. I take you!

I have no doubt the last to be true.

Not yet willing to surrender myself to the horde, I step back into the lounge to gather my wits. A final attempt to contact my hosts ends predictably, without connection, and the irony of being able to call home, two-thousand miles away, yet unable to reach a mere ninety clicks up the coastline is not lost on me. As my frustration begins to give way to despair, I spy a lifeline; a spark of travel magic. There, three rows from the door, poking above the crowd of seated, napping, texting, multi-cultured passengers is a welcome signpost.

Twenty feet away, pointed towards the ceiling, is a well-traveled, well-worn, green Sage rod case.

As I approach, the man sitting next to the case, clad in quick-dry Columbia and camel-hued Keens, looks up, meets my gaze, and smiles, perhaps noticing my dusty rod tube as well. Greg, he says. Greg, from Eugene, Oregon, and extends his hand. He, too, is headed north and has a van and driver outside, awaiting the imminent arrival of his fishing partner. Would I like to share the ride?

Sí. Eres muy amable.

Dennis arrives and we depart.

Driving north we don’t talk politics or religion or finances. Instead we speak of home waters, favored brews, and the incredible women who love us enough to tolerate our far-flung obsession. But most of all, we talk fishing. From the great Northwest to the Bahamian flats to the tip of South America, we talk fishing. Where we’ve been and what we’ve seen. We laugh like old friends who’ve shared these experiences and, in many ways, we are. We are fishermen and fly fishermen to boot. Pescadores de la Mosca.

The trip passes quickly. The driver drops Greg and Dennis at the hacienda of a friend, overlooking the Sea of Cortez, and then carries me another fifteen minutes across the dusty terrain to Buenavista. The ride is pleasant and I arrive in considerably better spirits than when I had departed. A brief stop at the Mini Super Chayito for a cold Pacifico certainly helped, but, in the end, I have survived to fish another day, saved by my brothers of the water.

Sustained, once again, by La Comunidad de Pescadores.

Now, here's where this wonderful community can assist once again. You see, I lost Greg's business card during the week. One too many Pacifico, I suppose. Please help me pass my heartfelt thanks along to my bretheren, from North Carolina to Oregon.

Gracias, mi amigos! Mayo nuestros caminos se cruza otra vez. Pronto.


Clif said...

It's a good thing the customs agent didn't take away the seat of your pants.

Mike Sepelak said...

Amen, Clif. Amen.

Arizona Wanderings said...

Mike, You are getting into some serious adventures, my friend. Very cool.


Mike Sepelak said...

Life is an adventure, Ben, as you demonstrate regularly at AZW. But yes, I have been busy. Cool indeed.

Matt Smythe said...

An auspicious, yet fantastic start. Looking forward to reading as you write on!

Mike Sepelak said...

Thanks, Matt!

Capt'n Preston said...

What a roller-coaster ride to start your trip! Sure it will continue...

Feather Chucker said...

Check out the forum There's an Oregon section. You might find his review of the trip. I'm sure some one knows him from there. Pretty tight knit group on that forum