THE time was back in the early 80's when I was still an active motorcyclist, and Marilyn and I were on a trip down the Baja California peninsula. We'd met up with two other couples on bikes in Loreto and were heading towards Cabo San Lucas, with a planned stop in La Paz. One of the other bikes blew a head gasket just south of Loreto - a circumstance which led to several adventures with these new-found friends.
This particular story concerns an event which occurred after we'd all left La Paz. The lame motorcycle had been left in La Paz, with that couple now driving a rented Volkswagen "bug." Taking advantage of having a car, we'd loaded up on food for a picnic on one of the beautiful beaches south of Todos Santos.
- Searching for "Paradise on the Pacific" -
Our trip to the Cape went well except for a few missing bridges on the road south of Todos Santos - however, we managed to negotiate the gullies using the dirt bypasses. It was when we began looking for the particular beach we had in mind that we ran into some difficulties. In fact, we could not locate this very special beach at all. (It is so special that I feel duty bound to not reveal any characteristics which might possibly identify it to the more modern traveler. Some places should never be advertised!)
We took the two motorcycles and the car off on some side roads searching for a way to our imagined paradise on the Pacific. The motorcycle Marilyn and I were riding was a very large and heavy touring bike, and this machine did not behave well on soft roads. I finally elected to halt my explorations on the ever softer roads, and we all stopped at a "Y" junction.
Because of the deteriorating quality of the roads, it seemed prudent to also get the passenger off the second motorcycle, and so we decided to have the two other men continue the search with one motorcycle and the car. This left Marilyn and me, plus the two other women, waiting at the junction.
It was a beautiful day, and I couldn't think of a better way to spend it than enjoying the warm sun with three lovely women! Or, even with the passing company of a farm hand who soon came walking along the road not taken by other men of our group.
- The Campesino -
This "campesino" was on his way to the highway to get a ride into town, but he stopped to chat with me about the weather and to admire the motorcycle.
It didn't take long to exhaust our expressed interests (weather and motorcycles) and my limited Spanish, and so we settled into a quiet period of just enjoying being there, while the women chatted off to the side in their own little group.
Since I'd experienced this sort of quiet sharing before in Mexico, it did not surprise me. However, after spending over 15 minutes of quiet with this gentleman I began to wonder how long it might go on. But very soon he offered a soft "Adiós" and continued on his way to the main highway.
- The Moral -
At this point my reader is probably yawning and wishing he or she had not bothered starting this tale. However, this small story has a moral, and it's one that took me a long time to understand. It's in the moral that this story would seem to have some consequence.
It was many months later, when I thought back to my brief interaction with the passing campesino, that I finally understood what was going on. It was all a matter of
Putting ones self in the place of the other person!
While I had clearly understood what we were doing at the "Y" junction, my passing friend had come upon us in complete ignorance. What he saw, and what I'm sure kept him there for so long, was
one motorcycle, three women and one man.
He was simply waiting to see how we were all going to manage getting on the one motorcycle and ride off! (He never did learn our "trick" and, perhaps, still wonders about it from time to time.)
If I imagine myself in the situation as the campesino, I'd expect it went something like this:
¡Qué día tan hermoso!   . . .   What a beautiful day for a walk to the highway! I'll catch the bus to town and visit with friends in the plaza. Perhaps I'll stop by the tienda on the way back and buy some tortillas, just so I can chat with Maria.
Hmmm, what's that group of people gathered ahead? Appears to be a bunch of gringos - I'd better be careful, they often do strange things.
Well now, this is really curious. They're traveling by motorcycle, and it's one of the largest I've seen - but, how do they all get on it? Perhaps if I hang around a bit they'll show me how they do it.
.   .   .
Well, that was certainly a strange encounter. The man was polite enough, but he never told me how they all ride that big motorcycle. And the women just chatted away, never showing that they might be ready to leave.
Oh well, Maria'll be much more interesting than these people. It doesn't even sound like fun riding a motorcycle with three other people!
Fred T. Metcalf (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Contributed December, 1998