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Baja California Information Pages

Stories by Mike Humfreville

The Gecko Road    ( Posted November 7, 2005 )

The weather is certainly cooling now, in early November. Whale Sharks are here but not in abundance. The whale shark-seeking boats cruise the south end daily, searching. Searching. The sharks are here but difficult to find this year. I ponder the cause for change. Global warming is always in my thoughts. It wouldn't be except that there is such a potential for conflict. The large oil producers and consumers (including us perhaps at the top of the list) hold it in their personal best monetary interest to sell as many fumes as possible. Do we need all this?

While I'm busy contributing to this problem, I've slowed down on retirement. The road south from Bahia de Los Angeles to our home near Camp Gecko I now drive at 12 MPH rather than 60. It's much nicer. Going slow I find myself more observant of the environment.

I can forgive myself because in the past we were only here for a few days or weeks and had no time to slow down. We had to make the most of our own self-imposed limitations. But that has all changed now. There is seldom a need to rush.

The road between the village and our house is pretty rugged from recent rains, and living here it only makes sense to preserve our vehicle by driving slower. Thus we do. There are many things to see, regardless of the seasons. We often pass the aging yet replenishing band of burros that have inhabited this region for forever. The older one knows me and will allow me to slowly approach him and pet him while his herd hides behind desert scrub-brush.

There are free-range cattle that wander wherever. Since their eyes are opposed they see only in two dimensions. I assume they don't recognize depth: how distant an object, a car for example, is from them. I always brake for these beasts out of concerns for the both of us animals. They cross the dirt track hurriedly when they hear my truck and then stop on the sidelines of the road to see what will happen to them next. Our windows are always down and we pull adjacent to them and offer up our best moo to them. They seldom respond but look at us questioningly.

Today we were coming down the road doing our usual 12 MPH with exceptions, both faster and slower and Mary Ann said she saw something crossing the road somewhere in front of us. In the distance I thought I saw cattle crossing. I was wrong. It was a small herd of goats.

It was a kilometer or so in front of us and we had reached a smooth spot in the roadbed and I accelerated. We caught up with the goats just as the last one crossed the road. They were collecting in the shade of a mesquite tree. They all worked together to fit within the patern of shade cast in the mid-afternoon sun. They all craned their necks to look at us and we issued our goat-like grunts that they paid little attention to. Then a dog appeared.

He was a Baja dog, a blend of Shepard and Collie maybe, but obviously in charge of the goat heard. He was protecting them from an assumed threat, us. He stood between us and the tree under which the goats had found shelter from the sun and was not aggressive but very Alpha Male. It was clear to us that it was his assigned responsibility to herd and protect the goats. How smart some of us animals are.

He did a very good job; he stood, looking at us for a few moments, trying, I would guess, to comprehend our intentions before he returned to the herd, his foremost assignment. I wondered if he lead them home at night, back to the old Diaz Ranch. Did he fend off Coyotes? In my heart I wanted to live in his body, actually his mind for a moment to see what I could learn.

All this on a six kilometer stretch of dirt road in Baja California.

Copyright 2003-2006 Mike Humfreville

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