There was still work to do and I was up early the next morning,
organizing materials and making plans in my head about finishing
the hut. I had hung two layers of the split bamboo, one over
the other, to ensure that only a minimum of sunlight filtered
through. We still had several rolls left and a number of
lengths of lumber. Based on our ideas from the night before I
laid out the framework for the additional porch-line addition.
This would give us a sixteen by sixteen foot square structure,
two hundred and fifty six square feet in all. Half of this was
completely protected, except for the doorway (we had no door,
nor did we need or want one). The other half of the hut was
closed on three sides and the roof, but completely open facing
the ocean, just a few feet away. On the side of this, adjacent
to the entry to the sleeping and cooking quarters I built the
remainder of the fruit crates into storage for our boxes of
books, a lantern, our meteorological station, writing materials
and a small square table about thirty inches high, to serve for
eating. At the other end of the porch I positioned a low
packing box we had emptied, partially filled it with stones to
keep it from blowing away in the winds I knew would come, and
put a two-foot by four-foot sheet of plywood on top. This was
our coffee table. Behind the two small tables I put our sand
chairs All this took an early morning couple of hours and was
causing grief to Mary Ann, Michael and Kevin who were trying to
sleep. But with the commotion of my work they were soon out of
bed and, before long, helping. We arranged simple deck chairs
into positions likely for their best use and stowed books into
the cases in the dining room-library.
In this environment Mary Ann and I had known we couldn't plan
how our four lifestyles would blend and evolve. We had wanted
only for us all to be open to change and acceptance and
integration with nature, each in our own way. We had known that
we would automatically slow down as we merged with natural
processes. Reading played a major roll in being able to
entertain a slowing mind.
During the first few days we were all hyper and bored from our
rush coming out of southern California. But, as the days
passed, we slowly settled into a routine. The boys got better
at inventing their entertainment. They played with their small
toy cars, building tunnels into the sand and claylike earth. We
cautioned them to always push a stick into the holes after they
had been away from them to be sure no snakes were in them.
"OOOOOhhh, yuck!" they screamed.
We had brought a wide variety of books. For the boys we had
schoolbooks for the grades they would be entering on our return.
They had picked out hundreds of books of their own interests
(and sometimes not Mary Ann's or mine). They had coloring
books, simple readers, choose- your-own-path books, up through
the fantasy books that Michael loved. For herself, Mary Ann had
brought a variety of styles, from romance and historical novels
to biographies. I had brought mostly fiction, including many of
my old favorites of the nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries:
Hardy, Hawthorne and Conrad; Hemmingway, Fitzgerald and Maugham.
For our mutual benefit we had reference books on the desert
flora and fauna, sea shells and marine mammals and fishes, on
Mexico and, in particular, on Baja California and the Sea of
Cortes. We stowed these into the too-few crates and constructed
other places to stash them in this library that was just built
but already overcrowded.
We had brought the types of gear that we knew we would need over
the summer to get us through the handling of the boat,
maintaining the hut during and after storms, repairing truck
problems, fishing, cleaning the hut, fishing reels, making
repairs to small items, performing first aid (there was
sometimes a doctor in Bahia de Los Angeles, but even that was 15
kilometers distant over bad roads), dealing with the potential
problems of rattlesnakes, sunburn, intestinal disorders, heat
prostration and who knew what other threats.
By the time we had filled the crates and hung maintenance
materials from the walls and ceiling of the hut in every
imaginable place, it looked like we had lived there for years.
But we were organized and everything was secure. When the first
wind came I was confident that we would lose nothing. With the
major part of the work over on that second day, we ate and went
into the water to cool down. Typically we wore only shorts or
bathing suits. There was no effort required to enter or leave
the water: no changing cloths before or drying off afterward.
We just walked into the water, cooled off, and returned to
whatever we were doing before. During these first few days we
were careful to limit the amount of sun we got and to keep the
boys covered as necessary with lotion.
Walking back to the finished hut I was impressed. It looked
just like what I had envisioned in both romantic and functional
concepts. Hanging suspended everywhere from the roof of our
covered library and sitting area and inside the kitchen and
bedroom were hundreds of feet of various kinds of rope, larger
tools, come-alongs, saws, hoses of various diameters and
lengths, pots and pans, kitchen towels and pot holders, buckets,
and clothing. The fruit crate cabinets were crammed with a
semi-organized array of foods, utensils, boxes, shaving kits,
toilet articles, makeup, books, lanterns, binoculars, the
weather station, dishes, clothes and all the supplies that we
had known we would need.
While the collection and its functional organization and
appearance were important to me they were not of the greatest
importance. I not only wanted to be ready for any of the
circumstances I knew we would face in these months, I wanted a
hut that looked and felt busy and was warm and inviting. I was
pleased with our final result, it felt and looked like a hut you
might happen onto in some foreign, remote place. It was just
that. It felt connected and authentic and it belonged here on
our remote and private place.