It was late in the afternoon on a Saturday as we pulled out of La Gringa and wound down the road toward the village for gasoline and a beer on our way north. Patricio was still standing ready at the pump with the nozzle and his calculator. We topped off, bought a couple of six-packs and accelerated onto the asphalt ribbon winding north, climbing into the central desert. It was late in the day but that didn't mean it was cool. We wound our windows down and settled in for what we knew from many experiences was going to be a long drive, back to the border and beyond.
There were four of us I remember, but I'm not certain who. I know there was me, of course, and Geoff. And I think it was likely to have been Barsam and John too. I know Geoff was there because he had given me an album that I always enjoyed, it was James Galway and a female opera singer. I think her name is Martha Aldrich, or something like that and the album (it was a tape in those days) popped into and out of the player many times over the week we had spent at La Gringa.
As my old tortuga ground her way up into the plateau of the central desert from Bahia de Los Angeles, dust flying and gears grinding, we were up for the trip, planned to perhaps spend the evening in Ensenada and have a night on the town. But the desert was something to behold in the late afternoon. There were storm clouds forming over the gulf, working their way northward, with an occasional blast of lightning and smaller swirls of rain droplets scattered across our windshield. We drove on wondering but unafraid. We were held up momentarily at somewhere around San Ignacito, where the usually dry watercourse crosses the highway there. But soon we were again without restraint and just four pals plugging through the desert after a weeks fishing.
There is a small place in the route northbound on Mexico highway 1 that I have for some reason I've never understood just adopted in my mind as a lovely spot. Its' somewhere between San Vicente and Santo Tomas I think, and a deep Sycamore-lined canyon falls to the west of the pavement and there is often a small running stream. There are often cattle and goats there, and around the bend going northward a tiny ranch that advertised "coco's," had a number of them positioned on a folding card table as we passed by.
As we wound up the road through my little spot we were listening to the Galway album and the clouds were gathering and darkening as we were moving northward. It seemed to me a moment frozen in time that I would carry forward forever; a place that the four of us visited, if only to travel through and the others unknowing what this moment meant to me with the windows down, the music flowing and the great Sycamores settled seemingly forever in their nests in the creekbed below.
That was so many years ago. Our lives have all changed now. We never stopped there. My friends never knew a picture would have been nice. We had our music and memories. I guess we didn't need yet another picture. So I guess it's stuck here in my head. What better place?