Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: He was the best dog on the planet.

Bonding

Bonding
The author of Mark's Work with Ellie Mae

Guess who's coming for dinner

Guess who's coming for dinner
Blue heron, sitting on the dock of our pond

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

BFF's forever

BFF's forever
Margie and Ellie Mae

Tomatoes and peppers are us.

Tomatoes and peppers are us.
Spicy salsa with roasted peppers, here at HappyDay Farms

Much love, John-Bryan

Much love, John-Bryan
Eric at 26 on the left, and John-Bryan in January of 1973.

Halloween fun

Halloween fun
SmallBoy and Dancing Girl

Our house

Our house
The snow season approaches...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Monday, February 6, 2017

Looking Down the Barrel (of an M-16)

Looking Down the Barrel (of an M-16)

The man with the rifle never said a word; he didn’t have to because he had our undivided attention. Of the other three uniformed, Mexican Federales, one spoke limited English, while the other two added comments in Spanish. It seemed as though they listened to our conversation, indicating they also had a pretty good idea of what we were saying, and then chimed in, in Spanish.

I’m glad they could understand us because we had nothing to hide, especially money, but the fact is that good old American greenbacks are exactly what these four men had demanded from the six of us gringos. The year was 1975 and we were at a campground called Alejandro’s, thirty miles south of Ensenada; we may have been in Baja, California, but make no mistake, we felt as though we were in Old Mexico.

I’d like to be able to declare, emphatically, that there was some kind of heinous error, and that those uniformed Federales were making the biggest mistake of their careers, but that would be inaccurate.

Additionally, I’d like to be able say that we were being accosted by rogue Mexican banditos, dressed in police uniforms, for no apparent reason, but that would also be erroneous.

Finally, I would like to be able to say that we were amazed, indignant and furious, but the truth is, there was no error, the men in uniform really were Mexican Federales, and we were petrified with fear.

Not for our lives, mind you, the crime was not that dastardly, but when you are in a foreign country, and you act like Americans, you kind of have to figure that if they come for you, particularly with M-16, semi-automatic military weaponry, you’re gonna have to go in.

OK, there was only one M-16, but it seemed like a bazooka to five of us, and it looked terrifying. To me, only a couple of years removed from the US Army, it was unquestionably an M-16, and for that reason, it also terrified me because I knew what it could do.

I had never had one pointed at me, though, because that was frowned upon, while I was in the service, in peace-time South Korea. Therefore I deduced that the Federales meant business, and were bent on taking us to the station unless we could come up with some loot. Station. Euphemistic for jail.

“How much do they want?” I asked no one in particular, whereupon someone offered, “As much as we have?” Whereas we were happy enough to oblige, we had no money with us, having left everything back in Molly, our VW bus.

Unfortunately, the bus was back at the campground. Normally, the wildest thing that ever occurs in Ensenada, is a night at Rosarita's Cantina and Bar. We were not at the bar; we were at the beach, though our campsite was filled to the bursting point with family members, spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, aunts, neighbors, pets and various other hangers-on. 
We would really rather have been at La Bufa Dora.

Noland (not his real name) was dispatched to get and drive Molly back to where we were, following the dirt track that paralleled the coastline, while the rest of us waited.

We had come down here for a week, we had brought books, cards, and swimming/fishing gear, and all we had really wanted to do this particular afternoon, was bag some rays, read our books and sleep.

But first we had decided to go exploring, deep into the bowels of a huge concrete complex, a tourist hotel that had been started in the early sixties, and then abandoned somewhere around the three-fourths-of-the-way-through point, when the money ran out.

Located maybe a twenty-minute walk down the coastline, heading south along the water, the concrete structure was visible in the distance from the campground. Abandoned when the workers left town, this concrete maze was an inviting target for us, even though there was absolutely no redeeming value to our visiting it, and we never stayed around very long. 

It was such a bizarre example of one huge difference between Los Estados Unidos and Mexico. Being raised with blue collar values, it was inconceivable that this hotel had been abandoned, after so much time, labor and money had been sunk into it, so it fascinated us.
Our captors were a cross between the guy
on the left, and the others. They were scary.
 

The site was dangerous, with unfinished staircases, cement pits, and underground passages which terrified me, but it was a magnet nonetheless.

“How much money do they want?” Kerry (not her real name) asked.

“He was vague. All he said was that if we had enough, we could avoid the inconvenient trip back into Ensenada.” Max's high school Spanish was still fresh in enough his mind and he seemed to have a pretty good handle on what they were saying.

They wanted to haul the six of us into Ensenada. Hmmm. No bueno. 


I couldn't wait to tell the folks. Gulp.

Tomorrow: He wants to know if we have any marijuana.

1 comment:

  1. I remember the hotel. You and I walked to it a couple of times when we were maybe in high school and camped with the fam at Alejandro's .
    While I wasn't on this particular expedition, I've heard the story. Yikes!

    ReplyDelete