Tuesday, February 22, 2011

“Julie? This is Baja Speaking”

“I was looking at the Spot online and I noticed that it didn’t move in forty five minutes,” my dad said, concerned slightly but more then that, I could hear the curiosity in his voice. Because I know my dad, I was anticipating his next question. “When I clicked the street view, it looked like a parking lot or something.” He went on, after a little pause, I think he wanted me to jump in, but I waited. “What where you doing there?” My dad finally asked.

Jordan has religiously been turning on his Spot. A GPS device his mom sent him off with. She would give Jordan her blessing only if he promised to turn the device on every morning. She worries sick about Jordan, but at least knowing where he is, the device updates every ten minutes, she has some peace of mind.

I had to think back, where were we? A parking lot? A little laugh came out as I repeated it back to my Dad. Huh, it feels like all I have seen in days has been dirt, sand and cactus. Emphasis on sand. No, emphasis on cactus. God, there has been so much of the two I don’t really know which one to emphasize more.

We have been traveling though miles and miles of desert. Desert that I have loved and cursed. Desert I have wished to spend an eternity in and desert I have wished to teleport myself out of. Desert filled with tall cardon cacti and rich with secret watering holes. But a parking lot?

“Oh, that could have been where we stopped for lunch.” I told my dad, while looking at his wild hair on the itouch. Skype is a beautiful thing. What he described as a parking lot was a type of shade cover, covering hundreds (probably thousands) of tomatoes from the desert’s harsh rays. We didn’t know at the time of the conversation, but all those poor tomatoes would have a premature ending to their already short-lived life.

Similar to the crazy weather that has been hitting the States, Baja has been having a cold snap of sorts as well. It was when we bumped into a majestic, cowboyfarmer (intentionally put as one word) a few weeks ago, that Baja first spoke clearly to me. He told us that he lost everything due to frost in early February. All the acres, hectares rather, that he worked so hard on. All the corn, garbanzo beans, and of course tomatoes, gone. All of them. “Lo siento,” Jordan said, always trying to use his Espanol. The cowboyfarmer, seasoned in life’s lessons, let out a smile that would warm your heart. He wasn’t worried about his lost crops, or what the following months would bring. He looked truly happy. A moment I will always remember.

The same life lesson, taught by the cowboyfarmer, was told to us yet again. This time by a Spanish bike tourist, traveling already 13 months from the tip of Patagonia. We crossed paths with him somewhere between La Paz and Constitution. He told us a devastating story of how he got caught in an earthquake in Chile. It was the following tidal wave that caused most of the damage. The wave took his bike, everything! The only thing he had left was the clothes he was wearing and his handle bar bag. But slowly everything got pieced back together. Someone gave him a bike. A traveling couple passed on their waterproof bags. Someone else gave him a brooks saddle, everything, it all came together. Wow. I couldn’t believe it. Not only that, then he said, “Yeah, I was robbed twice too!” I probably grabbed my mouth or something, eeep, twice?! I was thinking. He just shrugged though, and then from ear to ear was the same smile splashed across his face, the same smile that the cowboyfarmer had. “Yeah, I was robbed twice, once at night and once on the bus, but both were non-violent. I lost my wallet and passport, the whole bit, but those things are all replaceable.”

I thought the story was truly inspiring. He emphasized that the most important thing was that he wasn’t harmed in any of it. Not the earthquake, not the tidal wave, and not the robberies.

If Baja was trying to tell me something here, I don’t think she could be clearer. But I guess The Baja herself wanted to be sure I got the lesson, so she showed me a third, yes a third time.

Just as we arrived in Todo Santos we saw a large bellowing cloud of smoke just a few blocks away. Acey, Jordan and myself headed to get a closer look. Well us, along with all the town’s kids, animals and not far behind, fire fighters, police and the ambulance.

The house was up in flames, the boat was engulfed and there were people all around spraying their lawn hoses like it was their job. The guy whose house it was was out surfing and came running up with his wetsuit on. His wife was in tears and ran towards him. The first thing he says was “Such is life,” and shrugged, just like the Spanish guy. The wet suited dude and his wife embraced. “At least you are okay,” he said grabbing her shoulders and looking into her eyes.

My dad always loves the details. “Well what kind of boat was it?” He asked. I see this trait in myself, I get it from my pops. I always like knowing the details too. “I don’t really know what kind it was but it looked like it was going toxic, all that fiberglass and varnish, it was a goner, but a nice boat indeed.”

I’m now thinking of my things. All that stuff that belongs to me. The things that I meticulously pack into my BOB trailer everyday. The things I have at my parent’s house. The things I couldn’t get rid of and have safely stored in Colorado. I’m thinking of how much I need them and how it seems I couldn’t survive with out them. It’s all rather silly though.

More and more I am drawn to the idea of living with less. A simpler life. And more and more I think it is truly one of the keys to happiness. I don’t know if I should thank my parents for conceiving the brother that I have and love so much, the one who, if not for him I would not even be sitting here in Todo Santos typing, or if I should thank the cowboyfarmer and Spanish cyclist for sharing their stories. More then thinking of who I should be thankful for or to, I am happy to be alive and constantly learning and growing from life’s lessons.

Baja told me this lesson through three stories but it seems I could have easily been standing out in the desert. Simple as that, I could have looked up to the sky, and then closed my eyes, I could have felt the desert’s rays on my face. “Julie, This is Baja speaking.” The enchanting voice would be coming from the vast expanse of sky but the lesson could have been whispered in my ear. It was basically as clear as that.


At February 26, 2011 at 3:31 PM , Anonymous stacia said...

wow julie! this is kate's friend stacia, i met you in august at sunrise ranch when i was biking through on my own bike adventure. alisha posted a link to your blog on facebook. your blog is wonderful! makes me miss being on the road myself! coincidentally i am about to move to a farm for six months. anyway, keep it up, bon voyage, etc, i look forward to vicarious adventure!

At February 26, 2011 at 8:02 PM , Blogger Dave Etlinger said...

What powerful stories! I sincerely agree with you about living simply and I can't wait to hear more about your trip in person! See you in a few months, good luck on the rest of your spirit quest!


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