If you ever wanted to define the concepts of bone-jarring and butt-numbing it would be the van ride I just finished.
There are regular airplane flights to Isla Cedros, a small island just north of Isla Natividad. But, those are booked up weeks in advance since the plane only holds a dozen or so people. To get us back and forth, we hopped in the shuttle van run by the fishing cooperative that runs between Bahia Tortuga and Ensenada. On the way down to the island this was great, there were just four of us in a 12 passenger van. I got to stretch out across an entire seat by myself and sleep. The way back was a different story. We had 11 people in the same van with all of our luggage. Much tighter fit and much less sleep.
Including stops to stretch, food breaks and such, the ride took a total of 14 hours. And the first couple hours worth of driving is little more than dirt road—and occasionally the dirt road that was carved out beside the “pavement” was more acceptable since the latter was so full of potholes we couldn’t see straight and were worried about dental integrity.
When the three of us got back to Ensenada where we left Mary’s car, we planned to grab a hotel room and get a few hours of sleep before heading back to San Diego. Arriving back in Ensenada around 2:30 in the morning on Saturday night threw a wrench into our plans though. We couldn’t find a room. After trying several places, we decided to just head for the border.
Crossing the border back into the US was a bit more interesting than the drive down, but not significantly. Although even at 4 am there were lines of cars. I can only imagine what it is like later in the day. We had to wait about 15 minutes until it was our turn. We duly handed over our passports, answered a couple questions from the Border Agent and we were on our way. The most interesting thing about the entire process was the people running around between cars and the food cart set up in the road between the lines. An industry has developed of street vendors selling food and drinks to people waiting to cross the border. I guess the wait can get pretty long at times.
All together, the trip back to San Diego took us 20 hours. Exhausting. But still worth it.
This entire project is shaping up to be an interesting, powerful and moving story about what human beings can and will do themselves and the risks they will take to feed their families. Overfishing and the depletion of their natural resources is driving them deeper and making it more and more likely that these divers—in Mexico, Honduras and elsewhere around the world—are going to continue to get hurt and die so we can have lobster, conch and other food from the sea. But, at what price? Matias has said several times “Everyone got upset when we realized how many dolphins were dying in tuna nets? Where is the outrage when men are dying and becoming paralyzed for lobster?”
I’ve only alluded to what this project is all about in this blog, in my posts from Honduras and now Isla Natividad as I didn’t want to interfere with my options for telling the story to a wider audience. It will ultimately end up in print, online and as a live presentation. Stay tuned..