time was back in the early 80's when I was still an active
motorcyclist, and Marilyn and I were on a trip down the Baja
California peninsula. We'd met up with two other couples on
bikes in Loreto and were heading towards Cabo San Lucas, with a
planned stop in La Paz. One of the other bikes blew a head
gasket just south of Loreto - a circumstance which led to
several adventures with these new-found friends.
This particular story concerns an event which occurred after
we'd all left La Paz. The lame motorcycle had been left in La
Paz, with that couple now driving a rented Volkswagen "bug."
Taking advantage of having a car, we'd loaded up on food for
a picnic on one of the beautiful beaches south of Todos Santos.
- Searching for "Paradise on the Pacific" -
Our trip to the Cape went well except for a few missing bridges
on the road south of Todos Santos - however, we managed to
negotiate the gullies using the dirt bypasses. It was when we began
looking for the particular beach we had in mind that we ran into
some difficulties. In fact, we could not locate this very
special beach at all. (It is so special that I feel duty
bound to not reveal any characteristics which might possibly
identify it to the more modern traveler. Some places should
never be advertised!)
We took the two motorcycles and the car off on some side
roads searching for a way to our imagined paradise on the
Pacific. The motorcycle Marilyn and I were riding was a very large
and heavy touring bike, and this machine did not behave well on
soft roads. I finally elected to halt my explorations on the
ever softer roads, and we all stopped at a "Y" junction.
Because of the deteriorating quality of the roads, it seemed
prudent to also get the passenger off the second motorcycle, and
so we decided to have the two other men continue the search with one
motorcycle and the car. This left Marilyn and me, plus the two
other women, waiting at the junction.
It was a beautiful day, and I couldn't think of a better way to
spend it than enjoying the warm sun with three lovely women! Or,
even with the passing company of a farm hand who soon came
walking along the road not taken by the other men of our group.
- The Campesino -
This "campesino" was on his way to the highway to get a ride
into town, but he stopped to chat with me about the weather and
to admire the motorcycle.
It didn't take long to exhaust our expressed interests (weather
and motorcycles) and my limited Spanish, and so we settled into
a quiet period of just enjoying being there, while the women
chatted off to the side in their own little group.
Since I'd experienced this sort of quiet sharing before in Mexico, it did
not surprise me. However, after spending over 15 minutes of
quiet with this gentleman I began to wonder how long it might go
on. But very soon he offered a soft "Adiós" and continued
on his way to the main highway.
- The Moral -
At this point my reader is probably yawning and wishing he or
she had not bothered starting this tale. However, this small
story has a moral, and it's one that took me a long time to
understand. It's in the moral that this story would seem to
have some consequence.
It was many months later, when I thought back to my brief
interaction with the passing campesino, that I finally understood
what was going on. It was all a matter of
Putting ones self in the place of the other person!
While I had clearly understood what we were doing at the "Y"
junction, my passing friend had come upon us in complete
ignorance. What he saw, and what I'm sure kept him there for so
one motorcycle, three women and one man.
He was simply waiting to see how we were all going to manage
getting on the one motorcycle and ride off! (He never did learn
our "trick" and, perhaps, still wonders about it from time to
If I imagine myself in the situation as the campesino, I'd
expect it went something like this:
¡Qué día tan hermoso!
. . .
What a beautiful day for a walk to the highway! I'll catch the
bus to town and visit with friends in the plaza. Perhaps I'll
stop by the tienda on the way back and buy some tortillas, just
so I can chat with Maria.
Hmmm, what's that group of people gathered ahead? Appears to be
a bunch of gringos - I'd better be careful, they often do strange things.
Well now, this is really curious. They're traveling by
motorcycle, and it's one of the largest I've seen - but, how do
they all get on it? Perhaps if I hang around a bit they'll show
me how they do it.
.   .   .
Well, that was certainly a strange encounter. The man was polite
enough, but he never told me how they all ride that big
motorcycle. And the women just chatted away, never showing that
they might be ready to leave.
Oh well, Maria'll be much more interesting than these
people. It doesn't even sound like fun riding a motorcycle
with three other people!
Fred T. Metcalf (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Contributed December, 1998