November 2011. Donna’s neighbour Vivian is driving her van down to Puerto Penasco, Mexico. On the northern shore of the Sea of Cortez or, as some call it, the Gulf of California. The beach for Arizona. A short drive south west from Phoenix, across a pokey border crossing, through Organ Pipe National Park. Into the Sonoran desert. Nowhere have I seen so much sand. Miles and miles, swaths and swaths, dune after dune.
Getting there involves a four day drive. Day one is to Mountain Home, Idaho. Day two to Las Vegas. Day three to Ajo, Arizona. Day four to Puerto Penasco. Gringos call it Rocky Point.
It is smooth sailing until Ajo. We pull into a quaint motor park with small log cabin accommodations. Very retro. There are a few guys at the picnic area. A bit loud. Drinking. I don’t know who yells at who first. If it is them at us or Donna at them. Soon Donna and Vivian are drinking with them.
I’m not so sure. All the warnings about what can go wrong in this part of the US. I stay sober.
Which means I’m the d.d. as we all pile into Vivian’s van, headed downtown to an old hotel their buddy is renovating. He makes great martinis, we’re told. Drinking from a beer can is one thing. A drink mixed by a stranger. Not so sure. But off we go with three men we just met, in an Arizona – Mexico border town. OK, sure.
From there I am sent out into the night with one of the guys to see if their other buddy’s bar is still open. Do we drive? Walk? Not sure. Am I afraid? Yes.
Donna & Vivian have been reassured of the men’s harmlessness by virtue of their membership in a running/partying/travelling group called Hash Hound Harriers. They are on their way to a run somewhere.
The next day the girls are a bit hung-over. We have a greasy breakfast and turn the van south. A short hike in Organ Pipe. Across the border. Into Puerto Penasco, a small fishing town, by lunch. Vivian has a favourite spot on the beach. We park. Hear hoots and whistles. Not unusual in Mexico. We ignore them. They persist and we bump into the Hash Hound Harriers from the night before. We agree to lunch and a few beers with them but decline the invitation back to their hotel to party. Instead we head further south to Vivian’s townhouse.
It’s a relaxing week. Lazy. Miss Ray drives down from her trailer park in Gila Bend. In her red convertible. With her white highland terrier. In a few years she will be bankrupt and even now could see it coming, but will do nothing to stop it and in fact will do all kinds of things to worsen it. But for this week she is still Miss Ray, drinking too much, funny stories, lots of laughs, big dreams.
We drive back to Phoenix. Donna and I check into a spa for two days. It is unseasonably chilly. We walk in old town Scottsdale. Do a yoga class. Come back to Vancouver to snow.