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Baja California Information Pages

Stories by Mike Humfreville

The Tempests of Summer - Bahia de Los Angeles 1985, Part 6: Slowing the Pace   ( Posted May 9, 2004 )

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.

Copyright 2003-2006 Mike Humfreville

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