The One That Got Away — 6.0 — - Arroyo Tribu Perdida, Cabo del Este, Los Cabos, BCS, MX

“I don’t know/I don’t know/I don’t know where I’m a gonna go/When ‘de volcano blow….”

A harsh winter wind has been blowing from the north, buffeting the eastern cape of Los Cabos with gusts over 25 knots and a cold stream of air from the upper Sonoran desert that has dropped the morning temperatures into the 40’s. This is very cold for down here. Norte americanos keep remarking on how this is the worst winter in 30 years.

For me it is the perfect time to be enclosed in my little concrete block room perched above the kitchen looking out on the swaying cardon cactus, the dutch door rattling on is hinges, the windows shaking in their frames, nothing in mind except the twists and turns of a complicated subplot I am trying to write without sounding too stupid. The harder the wind blows the more I get done.

Well we all make mistakes on the road less traveled.

The sub-sub plot here is that for reasons only known to my sub-sub conscious (a vicious attempt of mental self-subterfuge designed to prove once again that nothing goes smoothly in the world of my imagination) I invite a house guest to come stay. I give her my nice enclosed cement room above the kitchen. No problem, I say sweetly, I’ll sleep in the garage….

There is not any reason to go into a lot of detail. The only observance that I would like to make (and be constantly reminded of before future invitations) is that today’s modern jet airplanes are now a compact and fertile incubation chamber for world wide viruses searching for lodging in the lungs and stomachs of captured humans. My guest is mostly incapacitated for a good three days with (we’re guessing here) an Alaska Airlines-borne virulent stomach virus. If she were not so healthy to begin with she’d be down for her entire vacation. She is, however, contagious.

It’s not bad in the garage. With the doors open I don’t suffocate at night and the cold wind mostly blows the centipedes, spiders and scorpions back into their crevasses. It is just too cold to get up in the early and write at the kitchen counter. So I have a little un-welcome vacation from my sub-plot.

Finally the days become sunny, the house guest becomes mostly healthy, but the winds persist and increase. In these conditions, I tell my friend, it is best to head up the arroyo. Shelter from the wind and an amazing little eco-system unto itself.

An arroyo (in Los Cabos anyway,) is a dry drainage ditch that snakes down from the mountains and is mostly a river of sand. During times of extreme precipitation it might actually become a flowing water river, but mostly it is a canyon cut through the crumbling granite over millions of years. The harsh winter wind goes right over the top.

We choose the Lost Tribe Arroyo. It is nearby and warm and calm inside and it is wide enough to drive the Taco Truck (all wheels under power) for a few miles toward the interior desert. After that it gets more constricted with many side canyons and you can probably walk for days (I never have) until you reach the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains.

There is a stunning landscape within the arroyo. As you get further back from the ocean the desert forest becomes more pronounced. Palo blanco and ficus trees cling to the sides of the shallow canyon. A variety of cactus (cardon, biznaga, cholla, candelaria, nopales, piteya) grow in cracks and niches, each carefully needled on every surface and with a late winter watering by last week’s rain, they are bursting with life and bloom. It is all quite impressive.

I would walk further up the arroyo with my friend, but for some odd reason my stomach and lungs are doing a little churning dance number. It’s called the Volcano Tango.

Go ahead, I say, I’ll wait here. A minute later I here her shout. “Amazing! Look what I found!”

I’m hoping it is something like a fossilized dead whale vertebra, but it turns out to be a couple of mushrooms growing out of a cow pie.

She carefully collects them and becomes somewhat obsessed with the idea of identifying them as psycho-active and possibly going on an additional trip of her own.

To me, this does not sound like a good idea. To the volcano virus that is just beginning to blossom in the upper reaches of my lower intestine; it probably sounds just about right.

“I’ll take them back to the room and do spore samples,” she says.

I say: “Okay. I’ll be in the garage.” The volcano in my stomach says: I’ll be right there with you for at least the next three days.

“If the stems turn blue,” she says, “Then I’ll know almost for sure they are psilocybin”

I want to say: I don’t even know where the poison center is in Los Cabos, but it is at least one hour away by truck. What I do say (weakly): “I’ll be in the garage.”

“What a trip!” she says climbing to her room.

House guests: You’ve got to love ‘em…..

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