Mary Ann and I were married in 1973. In 1974 we built a small
hut on the beach south of Bahia de Los Angeles where Camp Gecko
is today. We were alone except for the rusty old pickup that
passed a quarter mile away traveling between the village and the
Diaz cattle ranch, further to the south.
We had no fresh water except for cooking and drinking and we
bathed daily in the sea. In the early months the water was cold.
One evening, like others before, we were walking on the beach as
the sun set behind the western mountains and we spotted a green
5-gallon bucket that had floated up and was resting on its side
in the sand above the tide line. In that environment, it wasn't
something I could pass up, so we carted it back to the hut.
The next day, while we were scrounging the desert for building
materials for the hut, we brought home two 8-foot branches of a
Palo Verde or some such tree. Both were forked on one end. I dug
two holes in the sand, 4-feet apart, while Mary Ann placed the
branches in, forks up and I filled in the sand. With an ice pick
and a rock, I punched a number of small holes in the bottom of
the bucket. Then we ran another branch through the handle of the
bucket and laid it in the forks of the two upright poles. We had
an instant shower. No running water, of course, but whenever we
wanted to bathe in warm water we would heat sea water in a large
tub over the fire pit and transfer it to the bucket while one or
the other of us stood beneath. It was primitive, but worked
After using the shower for a few days, we found that we couldn't
get the sand off our wet feet before we dried off. We fired up
the old land cruiser and drove up to La Gringa at the north end
of the bay. We filled up the back of the truck with the smooth
round beach pebbles there and carted them back to the hut and
lined the sand with the gravel. The shower was perfected.
Twenty five years later, with Camp Gecko now in full swing, Mary
Ann and I drove down to our old stomping grounds to visit with
Doc and see what he thought about the new guy on the gossip
platter, the Escalera Nautica. Doc ended up giving us a tour of
his campground. He had made a few minor changes to the
configuration of the beach. We told him that we had lived here a
long time back, but we couldn't place exactly where the hut had
"There's only one thing I've never understood." Doc said. "It's
some small stones on the beach." He walked a few yards away to
the place where the stones were located.
Both Mary Ann and I immediately recognized that these were the La
Gringa stones we had brought to our hut so many years before. It
was everything that remained, from the beginning of our lives
together on what was then a quiet beach, but it was as much as
we needed. We just looked at each other and at Doc in amazement.
Sometimes in life we may think that every thing we accomplish is
soon meaningless. But for that moment we had changed the world.