I look up at the sun, as white and bright as ever, burning my eyes. I turn my head from its penetrating gaze and find Dusty frantically digging out the sand from around the tires of our car. As the minutes pass we grow more desperate as we realize the severity of our situation. We are lost and stuck in the middle of the desert and the last sign of civilisation was hours ago. We have been driving through an endless sea of sand, indigo skies and mirages since dawn and the thought of being lost in this unforgiving wilderness scares me. We tirelessly try our best to get ourselves free from the deserts grip but it’s useless. The more time passes in our unfortunate predicament, the more I realise we could be left with no choice but to sleep in the car for the night with no food, a gallon and a half of water left and coyotes and bandits running rampant. It isn’t an appealing thought to say the least.
After a few more unsuccessful attempts and much debating, we decide the only thing to do is to try and walk back to the last bit of dirt road we were on before following the vague tire tracks in the sand and hope to find someone who can help us, or give us a ride to the closest town. Dusty is sure it will only take an hour or two on foot. I am sceptical but resigned to our fate. We grab our backpacks with all our valuables and water, lock the car and begin to walk.
Our lives are in the hands of God. I look down at my boots trekking through the golden sand and for a moment believe this is all a dream. I think about the moments that brought us here, our decision to spend Thanksgiving surfing the legendary waves of Scorpion Bay, driving for two days to get there, and finally our foolish and impulsive choice to take the treacherous North Road, or really lack of a road, as a shortcut. Wishing there was another way out of our situation instead of walking through this blinding and boiling back of the earth, I turn back to look at our ride stuck on top of the sandy hill.
Help arrives… or does it?
Like a life saver thrown out to a couple of drowning kids in the water, I suddenly noticed a little black dot growing in the distance. “A truck! A truck is coming!”, I yell with jubilee. Dusty turns and runs back up the hill towards the growing lifesaver on wheels to ask for help. For a moment I am overwhelmed by joy and thank God for not leaving us in the desert to turn into skeletons. But as I watch them approach, I realise the vulnerable state we are in and pray that a good Samaritan is coming to help us and not a bunch of merciless banditos.
The truck comes to a stop and a middle-aged man and his son get out to lend us a hand. From their warm smiles and friendly dialogue I deduce that they are not a couple of banditos eager to take advantage of a couple of helpless gringos. I breathe a sigh of relief. We all get to work on getting our car out of the sand. Without a rope we end up cutting the seatbelts out of our back seats to make one and the friendly Mexicans tow us out. Dusty gets behind the wheel and I sit on the back of the truck as it slowly pulls our vehicle free from the sinking sand. Everyone bursts into a victorious cheer and with our minimal Spanish we thank them for saving us and the kind men point us in the right direction. Our journey continues and we are careful to stay on the hard dry earth, eager to find a man-made road again.
The sun begins to set as we reach the quiet fishing village of Datil. After over eight hours of driving through the desert I have never been happier to see the ocean and we are glad to have found civilization again. A gang of young boys crowd our car and we trade the last of our granola bars for directions to Scorpion Bay. With the desert behind us we find the main dirt road again to San Juanico. The last three hours fade into twilight as we drive past herds of wild horses on a plateau that leads us straight into Scorpion Bay. Tired, hungry, golden from the sun, covered in a layer of sand and filled with an overwhelming sense of perspective and gratitude, we greet Dusty’s uncle who is happily surprised to find us on his doorstep as we are in turn.
About Natasha: 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 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. You can reach her at natashakozaily.com