We left home several days after Christmas, headed for Bahia de
Los Angeles. Mary Ann had made reservations for the big house
at Larry and Raquel's. Camp Gecko was booked solid. There were
a number of other amigos heading to the bay from various points
north. Some of us would collect at Cielito Lindo in San Quentin
for the first night.
By Saturday afternoon we had arrived at the bay and launched our
boat. Kevin and Carly took it out for a spin long enough to
rescue a kayaker and bring him and his kayak back to shore.
They left our 14-foot tin boat resting on the sands of late
"We should remember to tie it up," they told each other, not
certain if they were going back out right away.
We were still getting unpacked and settled. Some of us ran to
the village for ice and supplies and the rest of us were
occupied with building our nest for the next week. Soon it's
evening and we're entertained with the weather and sunset and
the dolphins swimming up and down the shoreline. Then it's
dinner time and we're busy cooking. After that, time for a
fire. We gather and stoke the pit and sit yakking and slurping
cold cervezas as the air chills and the fire catches, throwing
the warmths of heat and color around camp.
Late in the evening Kev remembers the boat and runs down to the
beach to check on it, to tie it up.
It's gone, nowhere to be seen, along the shore or in the bay.
We take to our two vehicles and drive south along the water as
close to shore as we could get, past the camps adjacent to ours,
down to the turtle sanctuary. Nothing. With the pattern of
weather there's no way it could have gone north. We make
another trip south and turn up nothing. We're both fit to be
tied but there is nothing we can do. It's a black and moonless
night and we can see nothing outside the range of our
flashlights, even my megawatt lighter-plugged honker.
We wear down and eventually head back for the campfire and then
bed and nodsville. During the late night-early morning hours
we're vaguely aware a wind has come up. But it was snuggly in
our beds and no one thought any more about the weather.
In the morning the wind is blowing straight out to the gulf.
During the night before the pattern would have blown the boat to
the south end of the bay where sandy beaches offer protection.
But, once into the gulf there was little hope of finding her.
Kev and I formed another search party and with wind howling we
drove back down the beach into the village. We stopped and
talked to as many folks, locals and tourists, as we could. At
Guillermo's he offered to put the alert on the radio that the
bay uses for communications. He asks if there is a reward, a
concept I hadn't considered.
"Two hundred dollars." I sputter, unprepared. The boat and
motor are worth $5000, I'm calculating.
Kev and I leave Guillermos and head for the south end with
limited expectation and massive hope. We check every beach and
cove, every rocky point, every bay, lagoon and nook. Nothing.
We return to camp, check in for any incoming information.
Nothing. We decide to check La Gringa and points north and pack
the entire crew and spend the day there.
We searched the entire bay for three days. Nothing.
Early in the day on Tuesday I'm returning in the truck from
somewhere. Kevin and Mary Ann and I head of on a trip to Gecko
to visit with those there. Kev's driving. He pulls off the
pavement as we pass through the village. He drives up the
street on the north side of the Plaza, and past the museum and
pulls into the yard of the local fisherman/locksmith and shuts
off the engine.
"What're we doing here?" I ask.
"There's our boat." He points to an aluminum boat tucked away
between sheds and old equipment. "The motor's safe and we have
all the tackle that was in it, even the tank and gas."
"I guess it was found on the south point and brought in from
there," Kev says. "Paulina caught the news on their local
radios. And David and Debra spotted the boat in the village
when they were hauling it in. They told us.
Now that I've heard the story and it's beginning to sink in, a
fellow exits the house in whose yard we're parked. We introduce
ourselves and find that he has found our boat, early today and
perched on the southern point of Bahia de Los Angeles,
struggling to work its way into the open gulf. The man's name
is Miguel Murillo.
He shows me the slight damage to the stern and the undamaged
motor, sitting on a small patio at the rear of his house, along
with oars, fishing poles and reels, lures and gas. Everything
is safe and for the first time in several days I'm not worrying
any longer about the boat. In a situation like that, with so
much happening in so many directions the worry can become buried
by other activities. But it never stops gnawing at you. Now
the gnawing has stopped.
"Do you know about the reward? I asked Miguel.
"It would be very much appreciated." He said.
I had come unprepared in the dollar department. I grabbed my
wallet. It contained $100. I had offered $200. Circumstances
caused me to want to give him $250. I gave him the $100 and
asked if we could take the boat now. I would drive to Guerrero
Negro tomorrow to get the additional money. He said that would
not be a problem. I returned to camp, hooked up the trailer and
Kevin, Miguelito, Miguel and I loaded the boat, motor and gear.
Kev and Carly wanted to go out the next morning. We spent a
moment shaking hands all around and headed back to camp.
The trip continued on schedule and course. We revisited La
Gringa and Camp Gecko and spent time with pals. The last two
days were quite windy and our boat never did see any more water
that trip. Doc told us we could use his internet access to get
the money we needed.
Late one night, after the early dark of December and January at
the bay, Mary Ann and I dropped by Gecko to find Doc. We met up
with him at his home and used PayPal to get money for bailout of
the bay the next day. And enough to pay Miguel his reward.
In a small, isolated village in Baja a man had found a boat,
abandoned at sea. In the U.S and perhaps in Mexico, that boat
belongs to the finder. But Miguel brought it back to me. On
top of that, he was willing to trust me to take the boat and
wait for reward when he didn't know me.
These types of behavior occur in small communities, large
cities, tiny ghettos and so many varied environments around the
And this one happened in the village of Bahia de Los Angeles.
In Baja California, Mexico.
Gracias a Usted, Senor Miguel Murillo. Un hombre muy honrado.