We were perhaps a week into our annual winter sojourn to Baja and still on the mainland of Mexico when one morning my wife was putting plates on the table for breakfast and exclaimed, "There's a mouse turd on this plate!"
Sure enough, there was an unmistakable mouse doodle right in the middle of a plate she had washed and put up the night before. Since mouse turds don't materialize out of thin air but from within a little fur ball, it was obvious that we had gained an unwanted guest. Our motorhome was rather tight and I thought to be more or less mouse proof but one had gotten in somehow. Whether he had found a mouse size opening to squeeze through or we had brought him in some way, it wasn't known but he was there.
No matter how hard you try to think of everything that you might need on a three-month trip in a rolling condo, it's impossible to remember every little thing one might need. I knew that a mousetrap was not among them. No problem; I'd just buy one in the next town we came to. I stopped at a Conosupo and asked, "Yo quero trampa ratonera." (I want a mousetrap)
"No hay," he replied. A Conosupo is something like a Quick Stop here except they don't sell gasoline. Oh well, a larger store is bound to have one so we continued on our way. Turns out that the big department store in Guaymas didn't have one nor did the store in San Carlos, the Gringo settlement where most of the Americans gather for the winter.
By this time our little furry friend was getting brave enough to come out and snatch crumbs from the floor so I decided that I'd simply catch him. Knowing that a mouse has a special weakness for peanut butter, I baited a few bread crumbs with peanut butter and placed them in a row leading into a paper bag. We waited quietly and sure enough, here he came. He went for the baited bread with gusto, snatching them up and gulping them down. The trail led him straight for the bag but when he got there, he turned around and backed into the bag, keeping an eye on us all the time. The moment I moved, he was out of the bag like a shot and gone to wherever he liked to hide.
All you have to do to catch a mouse is be smarter than the mouse, so I turned the bag around to where he couldn't see us when he was in it. He would eat the bait up to the top of the bag but no more. He wasn't about to get into a position where he couldn't see us. After we turned out the lights and went to bed, we could hear him rustling around in the bag and next morning all the bread would be gone.
We rode the ferry across the Sea of Cortez and I continued my search for a trap as we made out way southward on Baja. It was of no avail because it seems that they simply don't sell mousetraps in Mexico. I asked every American I came to along the way if they had a trap but none of them did, so I decided to take a more direct route. I found a stick about three feet long and just the right size for whacking a mouse. Our resident mouse turned out to be a lot faster than I thought and I could only manage to hit where he used to be. That's where he got the name, Speedy Gonzales, after the cartoon character with similar speed.
We finally arrived in La Paz, the big city at the south end of Baja and I set out to find a trap there. There just has to be a mouse trap in a city that large. I began with the biggest grocery store there but they sent me to a department store. None there so they referred me to a sporting goods store where they had traps to catch everything from lobster to lobo but none for mice. Someone even sent me to a toy store.
I asked the guy who ran the RV park were we were staying for a few days if he knew where I could buy a mousetrap.
"Why?" he asked.
"To catch a mouse," I replied. He had never heard of anyone wanting to catch a mouse. I suppose he wondered why I wanted to catch something as useless as a mouse.
Early the next morning there came a tapping at the door. I opened it to find a boy about ten standing there with a live mouse in a mayonnaise jar. "Pedro said you wanted to buy a mouse," he said. "Very nice mouse, only one hundred pesos." A hundred pesos was about a dime but the last thing I needed was another mouse. I told him that I didn't want to buy a mouse but wanted to catch one that was in my rig.
Tears welled in his big brown eyes and he said with a sniff, "I work all night to catch mouse for you." How could one resist something like that so I handed him a hundred-peso coin and told him to keep the mouse. A big smile broke across his face as he tried to hand me the jar with the mouse. I convinced him that I didn't want the mouse so he opened the jar and dumped it on the ground. It scampered away, hopefully not into my rig.
Then my wife said those dreaded words, "Anyone who can build an airplane can surely make a mouse trap." I'd heard those words before. That was the down side of ever building an airplane.
Even with the engineering already done for you, making a mouse trap that will work using only the basic hand tools that one would have aboard an RV is much more difficult than you would think. The biggest problem is in the spring. I finally solved that by using rubber bands to snap the bail down fast enough to catch little Speedy.
Finally, after much testing, adjusting and having the trap snap on my fingers, it was ready. I baited it with Speedy's favorite peanut butter and we went to bed. A few minutes later we heard the snap, followed by a few pitiful squeaks and Speedy Gonzales was no more. He had met his match; a wife who knew when to play the old "Anyone who can build an airplane...." guilt trip.
Links to other Baja stories:
When Pigs Fly
The Cow That Ate Baja
The Baja Bunch
The Baja Van
Los Cabos [Free Book]
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