As many of you are now well aware, things haven’t been all rainbows and unicorns since we began our overland journey a month ago. In fact, things have been downright shitty at times as you can see from my previous post.
However, last Friday as we said goodbye to Mulege and spent a blissful night on a relatively cool and deserted beach I began to feel as if things were looking up. I was peeing somewhat normally, I got to go for a swim, and the Bay of Conception is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.
But pretty beaches and pristine bays can’t hide the fact that we’ve done some pretty stupid shit thus far. Well, I guess I should say that I’ve done more stupid shit than Will has, but we’re both new to this and mistakes happen. But the big mistake we made during Hurricane Newton really takes the proverbial cake.
The funny thing is that we’re no strangers to severe weather. I’ve been through a couple of tropical storms in Louisiana and Hawaii and we both survived not one but two Category 3 typhoons in Taiwan. We know the rules but apparently the 90 miles per hour winds of Hurricane Newton blew those rules right out the window.
We became aware of the storm that would become Newton on Saturday and made it to Loreto on Sunday. All of the projected paths had this storm headed straight up the Baja Peninsula and right into our laps. On Monday Newton became a Category 1 hurricane and we talked about what we should do. Head for higher ground? No. The Mexican Civil Defense actually advised against that due to the extreme risk of mudslides. Go to a hotel? Maybe, but how will we know if it’s bad enough?
In the end, we just decided to move Moby away from the trees that we were parked under, stock up on supplies, and ride it out. We went out to dinner Monday night and watched as the outer bands of Newton swirled slowly over the Sea of Cortez. It was actually quite beautiful.
Tuesday morning I woke to the pitter patter of rain on Moby’s roof. For a minute I just stretched and savored that exquisite sound of rain that I hadn’t heard in so long until I realized what it actually was. The beginning of a fucking hurricane. Will was already up, we had power but no internet, so we drank coffee and watched Master Chef. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, I thought.
That’s what I get for thinking.
By noon the winds had picked up and Moby was rocking and rolling. We decided to pull the top down which drastically reduced our living space. Each trip to the bathroom resulted in massive amounts of water coming into the camper and the couch was soaked. We were running out of towels. The full brunt of the storm wasn’t expected to hit Loreto until 6pm so at 2pm we did something really, really stupid.
We decided to go out and find a hotel.
We packed a few things in a dry bag, locked everything up, and headed out to the street. Wait, I’ll take that back. We headed out into a river.
The streets of Loreto were swirling with muddy, brown water and debris that nearly reached my knees. All I could think about was the fact that I was probably wading through actual shit, in Tevas. The Tevas that always give me blisters and I’m wading through filthy water and will probably get gangrene from a blister.
But we trudged on.
Then I realized the second stupid way we might die.
Power lines in Mexico aren’t always a neat and tidy affair. In fact, they’re kind of a shit show. So as I looked up at the power lines precariously swinging directly over my head all I could do was whisper to myself, “Five blocks. It’s only five blocks to the hotel.”
We reached Loreto’s little central square to find the hotel we were counting on was closed. A peek through the door showed a collapsed ceiling over the reception area and water everywhere. We trudged across the square to the other hotel. Nothing. Nada. Closed.
We then waded back toward the beach and actually had to skirt a power line that wasn’t entirely down but way too close for comfort. As we approached the beach hotel and saw the cars and people milling about it looked like a shining beacon of light, a true port in a storm, a magical place that might provide me a dry towel and a goddamn drink.
But no. The hotel was completely empty but the staff were there and said, in no uncertain Spanish terms, that el jefe said no guests today. We probably could have bribed our way in but I just wanted to go back and put some antibiotic cream on my feet. You know, so they wouldn’t rot and fall off.
So, we did what anyone who had just risked their lives by walking around in a fucking hurricane would do. We waded back to Moby and got drunk. We stripped down to our underwear and just wore raincoats when we had to splash over to the bathroom. We laughed about how stupid we were. And as the skies darkened and Newton began seriously dumping rain and throwing out winds that reached 90 mph I freely admit that I was scared shitless. But tequila does help with that.
When I woke up on Wednesday it was like nothing had ever happened. The skies were a crisp blue, a delightfully cool breeze was blowing, and we had internet and power. But the real work had yet to begin.
We did get some water in the camper at the head of the bed so we had to open all the flaps and pull the mattress back. All the couch cushions and their covers had to come out into the sun. Our clothesline was jammed with sodden towels and clothes. The shoes we’d been wearing were lined up in rows. Our bed pillows were laid out with the floor mats. It looked like a damn hobo yard sale.
I’m sure this adventure is going to be full of lots of stupid decisions. Life itself is full of stupid decisions but most of those tend not to involve hurricanes, power lines, and wading through sewage. Luckily, hurricane season is almost over and once we’re further south in Mexico we won’t have to worry about hurricanes again for the rest of the trip.
But who am I kidding? There’s no free pass when Mother Nature is concerned.
We’ve got volcanoes and earthquakes to look forward to.