Red, white and green

Dusty and I woke up at 5am in San Diego and started our two-day journey to Scorpion Bay. We exchanged our American dollars and suddenly felt rich with thousands of pesos in our pockets. As we approached the border I saw the contrasting picture of a densely packed hill of houses. “That’s Mexico” Dusty pointed. We crossed the 3,169 km boundary from a First World Country to a Third World Country without any questions. I hear on the way back it’s a different story. Our welcome into Tijuana, Mexico was shrouded in shanty towns and some kind of organised chaos while the thrill of a new place filled me wide-eyed curiosity.

As we drove along the coastal highway we gazed between fancy beach condos at the perfectly peeling waves, which woke us up after such an early rise. On the other side, the standard of living was drastically diminished as crooked plywood homes clung to the slopes of rolling earth. McDonald’s, Starbucks, Walmart and even Home Depot made it across the border in ugly industrial shapes as colourful Mexican architecture lay in ruins and tags. As we drove further south our cell phone service disappeared as well as civilisation.

A young spirit

A large double-sided map of Baja was our only guide as we headed to Scorpion Bay to visit our friend Alan Hamilton for American Thanksgiving. Alan is like an uncle to Dusty, who grew up listening to his tales of surf and adventure on the high seas. When I first met him I sat and listened to his stories for hours. Despite his white and grey hair, his skin aged from years of sun and sea and his mangled arm from a shark attack he survived in the South Pacific years ago, he has a young spirit that makes it seem as if he was still in his 20s.

It would take us two days and many miles to reach Scorpion Bay. Each town we approached consisted of a few colourful structures along both sides of the road and within seconds the little town disappeared. On this day, red, white and green decorated the streets and hordes of children walked by in traditional dress while military men patrolled the streets with intimidating rifles. Once we reached a traffic jam, 10 trucks and 20 cars long, we realised it was 20 November, the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. We waited for 30 minutes as the only entrance into the next town was closed temporarily. After lunch at a questionable taco stand in El Rosario we continued our journey without any more patriotic interruptions through a stunning landscape of boulders and saguaro cactuses.

Giant whale skeleton

Almost 10 hours from the start of our journey, we were happy to see the sun set in a spectacle of colours and shapes as we made our way into Guerro Negro to spend the night. A giant whale skeleton guarded the entrance into the town, well known for its whale-watching. That evening we discussed which road we should take to get to Scopion Bay. There were two options; we could take the less-travelled “North Road” or the friendly paved highway that was twice as long. We heard rumours that the North Road would be a challenge as you had to drive though miles of salt flats when the tides were low and there were no roads or signs to direct you. It was a vast desert wilderness. We checked it out on Google maps before our impatience and over-confidence landed us on the North Road the next day. And so it began …

Natasha Kozaily is a local singer-songwriter and painter. She released her debut album Between Shores and followed it up with the EP Tales of One Fish. She currently resides in San Diego where she continues to create and perform. Natasha completed her bachelor’s degree in music from Cardiff University, where she wrote her thesis on Caymanian folk musician Miss Julia Hydes. Her Blogspot blog is called Tales of One Fish where you can read a lot more of Natasha’s thoughts.