I will continue on my useful if not contrived theme of answering some questions from “The Grandparents Book” as I relay some stories from our travels towing our trailer with motorcycles behind our vintage truck and camper . If you are just jumping in as a reader, I shall clarify that I am using the Book because it really does have some good biographical questions that I likely haven’t told my kids, and I am NOT hinting (consciously anyway) at a need for grandchildren. Although I really do miss buying cool cheap toys and watching animated movies! Anyway, there was a page of questions about when and where I got hitched. So I will tell you about the THREE times I got hitched. And, unhitched. The first time I got hitched I was living in Anacortes in a weekend fisherman’s cottage on Lake Campbell. I was 25. We got married by a Justice of the Peace in Bellingham. I think I actually was attracted to his brother who lived in the next cabin because he was such an outdoorsman, single, good looking, and likely the last of the trappers in the area, learning from an old man on one of the islands. In any case, neither brother ended up being the kind of guy I should have married. I got unhitched on April Fools Day after one year of marriage. I had several significant lovers in the many years that passed before my next legal marriage at age 48, one of them a seven year relationship with a wonderful soul who helped raise my then teenage boys. But I will try to stick to the point here. I met R, “the old fashioned way” as he likes to put it, on the Internet. We were extravagantly compatible. We got married on Halloween at a Firefighter’s Costume Party barely having known each other for a year and told only a few folks that we were going to get hitched at the party. We were the perfect couple: Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. I can always say I married a monster, but then, so did he! My boys, Napoleon Dynamite and Charley Chaplin and good friend from work, dressed as Poison Ivy from the Catwoman movie stood up for us. My mother was a witch. Our friend, a judge in real life, came in his robes and wig and talked us through the vows as we used a “lightening ball” to place our hands on in lieu of a unity candle. The crowd quieted as they gradually realized that this wasn’t a little play, but we were ACTUALLY getting married. Four of the firefighters, costumed as “The Village People Band” broke out into the YMCA song with all the moves immediately after, and another cohousing friend’s little girl caught the whole thing on tape. R’s family came too from out of town and sportingly donned costumes as well. Really fun, memorable, no stress wedding. We really just wanted a big party to share our happiness.
Yesterday we got unhitched. We left the wind-swept, garbage-lined beach that on our way South had been nearly empty and pristine. It was disturbing. It was delightful watching the Mexican families celebrating together the Easter Holiday, camping out in tents, cooking and eating together, spending hours leaping in the cool breakers, holding hands with the younger ones. They made big bathtubs in the sand so they could have some warm water to play in and simply enjoyed lollygagging in the sun and sand.
The plan was to cross the border back in to the United States at Tecate and take a short drive to Pine Valley where we might camp or hotel. We were really feeling pretty grimy having had only salty showers the last several campsites, and a hotel was likely in the cards.
We went the wine route on #3 instead of hwy 1, to see that area, which was lovely. R looked at the trailer hitch with concern before we left and I looked at the step up to the camper , which was gradually bending downward. You could see the stretch marks in the creamy colored paint at the corners. The safety chain was hanging lower and lower.
New plan. San Diego for a new, and different kind of trailer hitch. We didn’t make it. We could hear the hitch collapse as we pulled near a major intersection in Tecate. Silver linings: there was a bus stop area to pull into. We were not up in the hot hills with no water as we had been only hours prior. We were not in line at the border.
The fact was we had just passed several policia cars two blocks before. We eased carefully into the bus-stop area to the side of the road. R flagged a policia car down and we waved them over to show them the problem “fragmenta,” as they didn’t speak English, and our Spanish, though improving, still qualifies as “muy pocito.” They were two young men and a woman in dark uniforms, carrying pistolas. We had previously learned from signage that soder was weld, which was what we needed. Almost immediately, they seemed to have a plan. We gathered through their pantomime and a few words we understood that this problem would take about five minutes to fix and I must stay here with the truck and camper with emergency lights flashing and the trailer, presumably to guard it from Banditos, and R and the broken hitch would go with them…the woman had an amigo who might fix it. I went in the camper and had half a bologna sandwich. Moxy crashed on the cement sidewalk and I sat on the mercifully shaded wooden bus bench. It was all pretty civilized until I was approached by a man who spoke pretty good English and was also dressed in a dark guard uniform with a badge. Apparently he was across the street and saw some of the action. Another young policia had stopped five minutes earlier and asked if my espouse was here yet. I said no, wondered why HE didn’t know. Anyway the guard from across the street at an industrial looking area with chain link fence said I shouldn’t trust the Mexican Police, they would try to get our money. He said there was a welder right across the street where he had been. He asked where they took R, and of course I had no idea. In fact I really didn’t know where I was, except in Tecate near a sign that said Bienvenida to Tecate and a bus stop. He said I should call 166 to report what had happened. I told him I would wait a little bit longer then do that (just in case he was right, I thought it would be a good idea; we had, of course heard stories about that kind of thing). I waited. I waited some more. I tried to read all of the signs around me. I shook my head no to several bus drivers who gave me the “do you want a ride?” look. I ignored some hoots from truck drivers. I admired my dog being as relaxed as if she was back home in our quiet living room as loud traffic zoomed by on either side of us. My mind wandered. My pulse accelerated. They DID separate us. They DID sweep R away rather quickly. He doesn’t speak Spanish. I don’t think he took a phone. He doesn’t know where he is and I don’t know where I am. They had guns. They were probably waterboarding him by now for parking illegally at a bus stop and speaking such poor Spanish. I will wait here in this limbo forever and never find out what happened to him. I get in the truck. I am worried about the battery failing because the emergency lights have been on for so long. I call Moxy in, roll the windows up and turn on the AC. I pick up my Mexican phone. Dead. I pick up my pink fancy American phone and press the start button. Dead. Nothing. I swear we charged both of these two days ago and haven’t used them since. I can’t call the magic number. I don’t see a phone nearby and I’m afraid to leave the rig unattended. I see the guard across the street, talking to, presumably helping, some woman with some other problem. I tell him my phones are dead and ask if I can use HIS phone to call that number he suggested. “ No,” he says. “Why not,” says I. They will charge me for the call,” he advises shamelessly. I go back to the rig, to the tune of a few more catcalls from diesel truck drivers. I am glad I have my dog. People here are afraid of her and always ask “Perro Muerte?” Which translates literally to “dog murder?” but, I gather means “does your dog bite.” Usually I tell them, “ me Perro no muerte, Perro amigable.” My Perro de lanas (which translates to wool dog, their word for poodle) is going to be a murder poodle today, by golly. No more nice Moxy. I stand in the shade at the bus stop and watch a big Tecate diesel go by. I look up the street at the big Melodrama store. Oh. Modelorama. It’s a kind of beer store popular here. I am pretty seriously anxious by now. I’m not prone to think the worst, but that guard really got me going. R arrives not long after; I think it was probably an hour total. BIG SIGH. He is smiling. They took him right up the hill across the road opposite the industrial buildings and in five minutes they were at an amigo of the policia woman. He didn’t have enough welding rod so R gave the policia 60 pesos and they went and bought more. R said did a GREAT job fixing the part and R paid him double what he asked, sourcing his Loreto Spanish lessons to say “if you are happy, I am very happy, much more expensive in USA.” We shake hands all around, everyone is smiling, guns remain holstered, no payment is even hinted at for all of the prompt help they gave us. Silver lining – #2 I couldn’t talk! The phones were dead (but one wasn’t….panicky operator error) so I didn’t call the calvary.
No trouble at the border, just the wait, and declining vendor’s regular offerings of food, water, candies. R had to donate his pepperoni and the egg carton to the US inspector. The hills after the border were beautiful with rounded boulders, but the driving was slow. Our usual driving day is 5 hours and R still wants to get the part in San Diego before we check in to a hotel. That will, I estimate put us at a ten hour day. We stop for an American hamburger, fries and a beer. I limp across the street. We are parked again at a bus stop; the only place there seems to be room. I try to argue about the arrangement but give up easily. I try to argue about waiting till tomorrow to take care of the part but he is anxious. I give up that one too but warn that I may not be speaking to him by the end of the day. I limp after him across the highway holding onto my right sandal, which I can’t bear to wear because of an infected red ant bite. I won’t bore you with the other parts problems that were solely my own that I started the day with. Silver lining #3; I couldn’t walk! ( I would have liked to walk off, and by then, he likely would have let me. We weren’t shouting, we very rarely do, but we were both really tired, tense and hungry with our independent tunnel vision, his being to fix the part, mine being to lay down in a bathtub and never move again). Funny, how I was so desperately happy to see his face two hours prior! But we all got what we needed to continue on down the road together and we are getting hitched again on Tuesday, in San Diego, when the proper Trailer hitch is installed.