Los Cabos
by Jim Foreman


            Carlos Garza didn't return to live in Cabo San Lucas until well past his eighteenth birthday, but he did return several times before then for short visits. Professor Carter knew a number of pilots who occasionally flew to the tip of Baja for the fantastic deep sea fishing and would arrange for Carlos to go along whenever they had the room. Each time that he returned to his home, he would bring presents and tell his family of all the wonderful things that he had seen and learned. He could now read and write in both English and Spanish and he had gone to school to learn how to repair diesel engines. He had also worked each summer and had saved most of the money that he earned, planning to buy his own boat when he returned to Baja. "Gringos will come here and pay me lots of money to take them out to fish for Marlin," he told them. "I want to have a nice boat to take them fishing in."

            Many things happened during the seven years that Carlos was living with the Carters in San Diego. Three of his sisters married and moved away. His oldest sister, Lupita, had married Roberto Morales and they had two children before he was killed. Lomita's father and Roberto had set out in a small sailing boat to go to San Jose del Cabo but a sudden storm came up and they were never seen again. Lupita walked the shoreline eastward from Cabo San Lucas until she found the mast and sail from their boat washed up on the beach. She recognized the sail immediately because she had sewn it by hand. She knew the worst had happened.

            The old Jesuit trail which followed the Pacific coast to Todos Santos had been widened and improved until cars and trucks were now able to drive all the way from the capital city of La Paz to Cabo San Lucas. No longer did the people of San Lucas have to depend on boats or mules to bring them supplies. As a result, the village was growing rapidly and they now had a church and a school.

            While Carlos wasn't interested in attending the new school, he did find something there most interesting. It was the pretty, young teacher, Rosita, who caught his eye. She had been sent to the school to serve her one-year internship which was required in order to become a regular teacher. Since she had no relatives in the area to live with and was paid no money while serving as an intern, Mama Garza had invited her to come live with her and the two remaining single daughters.

            When Carlos returned to live in Cabo San Lucas; he walked into the house, kissed his mother, prayed for his dead father and fell in love with Rosita at first glance. With no Aduana around to act as a chaperon and give their romance time to fester and grow, they were standing before the Padre to get married within a month after their first meeting. Carlos spent most of the money which he had been saving to buy a boat for a small house on a point of land which looked out over the ocean.

            Since Carlos was fluent in English as well as Spanish, he was able to get a job as a labor foreman with an American contractor who was building a big hotel high on the rocks which formed the protected harbor. A year after his wedding, Rosita presented Carlos with a beautiful baby boy which they named Luis, after his father.

            When the hotel was completed, the owners brought in a fleet of large diesel-powered boats to serve the people who came to the hotel to fish for Marlin. When the hotel opened, Carlos stayed on as both a mechanic and an manager of the boats. In this position, he was now making far better wages than most other people who lived in the town. During the off season, when few tourists came to fish for Marlin, Carlos had the time to improve his house and land. Before long, his house was one of the more impressive ones in the town. It was the typical Spanish style house, built low to give it protection against storms and open to allow the cooling sea breezes to blow through in the summer. It was built around a courtyard which was enclosed by whitewashed walls and the red tile roof could be seen for miles. He drilled a well and erected a storage tank to provide running water inside the house.

            Luis entered the local school as soon as he was old enough and once that he had finished the seven years provided there, he was sent to live with an aunt in La Paz and continue his education.

            Carlos saved his money and when the hotel decided to replace their fleet with larger boats, he had enough to buy the best one of the fleet. The boat was called the Bluefin and had always been his favorite. The Bluefin was forty feet long with a flying bridge above the cabin and a spacious rear deck above the engine compartment. The rear deck would accommodate up to eight fishermen at one time. The main cabin was adequate for both crew and passengers; equipped with a small galley, a bathroom and seating for twelve people. There was also a wheel and engine controls in the cabin, but they were only used for handling the boat during bad weather. The boat was normally operated from the flying bridge where the captain had a much better view of fish when they came in to strike, but also of everything else around the boat. Beneath the foredeck in front of the cabin was a bedroom with bunk beds on either side.

            Having worked on the boat for many years, Carlos knew it from stem to stern. The hull was solid and its fittings were in good shape. The only possible point of weakness on the boat was the engine which had many hours of running time on it. Carlos knew that he could repair the engine, but parts would have to be shipped all the way from the United States and would be very expensive. He had to take the chance that the engine would keep running because the boat cost him every cent that he had saved. By owning his own boat, he could make much more money than by working for the hotel. If luck was with him and he had a good fishing season the first year that he owned the boat, he would have enough money saved to overhaul the engine and make it like new when the winter fishing season was over.

            But Lady Luck, who had smiled on Carlos so many times before, took this occasion to look the other way. Rosita became very ill and had to be taken to the nearest hospital, which was located in the capitol city of La Paz. Carlos went with her to the hospital and stayed by her side day and night while his boat sat idle throughout the Marlin season. The doctors were unable to help Rosita and Carlos watched helplessly as she became weaker and weaker. Her life and his savings expired at the same time.

            Luis finished school at the university shortly after his mother died, and following his graduation, he returned to Cabo San Lucas to work with his father. Together, they would try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

            The Marlin had left Cabo San Lucas and headed for deeper water by the time that they returned and about the only charter work that could be found was an occasional sightseeing ride around the harbor or possibly to Shipwreck Cove. Occasionally, they would get an extra long charter all the way to San Jose del Cabo. One day, when he was returning from such a trip, the aging diesel engine began to make strange and costly noises. Carlos reduced the power but the noises grew louder and louder until he knew that he must shut the engine down or else completely destroy it. Fortunately, they were well within the protected waters of the harbor at Cabo San Lucas and were not in any danger.

            The boat floated dead in the water, rocking in tune with the small waves which moved toward shore. Carlos had intended to allow the boat to drift to shore on the tide, but his guests were complaining so loudly about the delay that when a friend came by in his outboard Panga, Carlos threw him a line and asked to be towed to the dock.

            He tied the boat in his usual spot and removed the hatch above the engine compartment. He didn't need to look at the engine to know what was wrong; he already knew what was needed. He had worked on diesels long enough to know that this engine would never run again without a complete overhaul, and that would cost money that he didn't have.

            "Hola, Carlos. Que tal amigo?" asked a voice from the dock. It was the crippled gringo hippie who lived in an old camper parked on the beach near Shipwreck Cove. Carlos knew the hippie well because he was a friend of his sister, Lupita.

            "The engine is dead, Tomasino," replied Carlos.

            "Water in the diesel fuel again?" asked the hippie.

            "Much worse than that, amigo, much worse. It must have a complete overhaul to ever run again. The Marlin season will begin again soon and my engine is dead and I have no money to fix it with," he replied.

            "Could you use the engine out of my pickup to run your boat?" asked the hippie, as he leaned on his walking stick and peered down into the greasy engine compartment.

            "I could probably make it work, but what would you do without your pickup?" he asked. "You can hardly walk and you need it to go places."

            "No problem," replied the hippie. "The tires are shot and I can't afford new ones. Even if I had tires, there is no place for me to go. You might as well use the engine until you can overhaul yours."

            "Thank you my friend, you are like a brother, Mi Hermano."

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