On a recent trip to Bahia de Los Angeles we spent way longer than I had thought we would and we were running low on cash. In Baja's central desert, cash is hard to come up with and we owed our friend for our rooms. We had paid for only a few days and used them for three weeks. We asked him if we could use Pay Pal and he agreed. It's great having the internet in so many out-of-the-way places along the peninsula.
So that gave us a couple hundred extra bucks to get home on but still we needed to fill the 40 gallon tank of Vaca Blanca and eat and pay for a hotel for a single night en route to Ventura, California. Before we hit the Pacific coast we were broke again.
"No biggie." I thought as we pulled into San Quintin and stopped at our usual ATM. I was surprised when I fed my card to the machine and was quickly rejected. I went across the street and got the same response. We sat in the car for a while and pondered. What would we do? Here we were in Mexico, and the card doesn't work. We have only a single debit card and know there's money in the bank but, regardless, what do we do?
Mary Ann says "Let's go to our favorite place just outside of town. Maybe our friends there will loan us enough to get home."
I didn't like that idea. It just didn't set right. While these were personal friends of long standing, we didn't live nearby, across borders actually, and I didn't want to ask for that kind of support. But we sat and thought about it for awhile and had no alternatives. I started the Vaca and we headed to our friend's place down the road. They live in a rural area and it a dirt road and when we arrived they heard us and came to the door before we could knock. "Come on in." They said. "What brings you here?"
I made small talk and hemmed and hawed before I faced the music, embarrassed. "We're broke and our card doesn't work. I hate to ask you for money, but don't know what else to do."
Our friend leaves the room and returns with a fistful of money. "How much do you need? Are pesos OK? Or dollars?"
I figured we needed a maximum of $100 to get us through the night and across the border the next day. $200 was pressed into my palm. We ended up needing it all to get home. A few days later we mailed them their money back.
This event epitomizes the trust that occurs on a moment's notice in Baja. Mexican to Mexican; Mexican to American, American to Mexican and American to American. It's just so damn rewarding to be spending time in an environment where trust is so prominent. Trust is just as meaningful on the northern side of the border as well. But sometimes living in smaller communities feeds the trust factor. It's just better when we know who we're dealing with.
I guess that could happen anywhere.
But it happened to me in Mexico.