While working as a hunting and fishing guide along the Snake River in Idaho, between snowboarding and partying in Hemingway's hometown of Ketchum, the author inadvertently ended up on the FBI's 'top forty'. Fleeing like many before him over the border into Mexico, he spent a year in Baja where he started the first saltwater fly-fishing business on the Sea of Cortez, living in Los Barilles (named after barrels of treasure buried there by buccaneers who sacked the Manila Galleons carrying gold looted by Spanish Conquistadors), surfing along the cape, enjoying numerous adventures and a generally laid back but adventurous life in Mexico.
Accompanied by a handful of 'colourful' characters that regularly flew in from California and other parts of the US in their private planes, this series of 'long stories' describes life along the cape of a part of a generation who spoke the 'truth' and dared to live it. From surfing waves, to catching marlin, smoking pot, collecting underworld debts and hanging out with Mexican gangsters, this (sometimes fictionalised) journal describes Baja from the perspective of 'outsiders'.
It all started when Michael - who had always been a sucker for big **** turned to chat up the busty blonde on the next barstool. Chucho just reached over the countertop grabbing the long thin bladed knife they cut limes with ‘sticking him’ four or five times. The chrome blade pierced his pink flesh like a hot knife through butter - the handle bouncing back and forth reflecting shards of trembling candlelight after he let it go. It stopped the joint dead, a stunned silence falling over the bar room with everyone staring in shock. Best of all Michael didn’t even flinch, didn’t react at all. Just carried on working on the blond. Nobody could believe it.
It was a long time coming though - they’d been at it all day butting heads about everything. Then once they got into the Mescal it was a lay down misére. And Michael being the contrary son of a ***** he was, well... at one point I even said to him, “Leave it alone will you! If Chucho said something was white you’d say it was black just for the hell of it!”
“No I wouldn’t!” He snapped.
“I rest my case,” I shrugged smiling, for despite himself Michael had made my point for me. But if the truth were known it should have become evident long before that the day was going to take a strange turn, as far back as sunrise when I stopped in San Bartolo for tamales.
San Bartolo was on Highway One between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz in a steep rocky arroyo 1 covered in cactus and low lying scrub, the highway cut high up along one side of the canyon wall with a row of brightly coloured houses on both sides for half a mile. Below the Pueblo a colourful patchwork of irrigated crops covered the canyon floor ... corn, chilies, tomatoes, avocados and orange groves. A picturesque little village, San Bartolo was a favourite stop for the ‘Tres Estrellas D’Oro’ 2 bus line, the main company between Tijuana and ‘Cabo’, and a few stalls had been set up on the southern end of town where the buses stopped selling produce, souvenirs, toffee, food and beverages.
The restaurant was no more than a small shop really with an outdoor eating area where seven or eight tables and chairs were aid out under a lush canopy of purple and orange Bougainvillea. In its cool shade you would always find people sitting about eating, drinking or just taking in the visual entertainment and gossip. And in the middle there was a large stone fireplace where they barbecued seafood, carne asada and where the speciality of the house was cooked, tamales. An enormous dented, blackened pot heated water all day full of them- works of art that came wrapped in cornhusks, small envelopes neatly tied with pieces of straw. It was a ritual untying those little packages to remove the maize dumplings filled with Señora Rosa’s special mixture of vegetables and meat, sometimes beef, sometimes chicken. Not to mention her salsa that was hot enough to peel paint off your car, a sensational red sauce with yellow seeds that left you gasping, drinking Pacificos, wiping your eyes and nose and ordering more.