Ron and I towed a 25ft. Sail Boat to Mexico one winter. We got to San Carlos to late to launch it. So, we put the boat in storage and decided we would go camping with the Van, which was equipped with a sofa that made into a bed, a sink and an ice-box. We also had a pop-up tent. My big black box which was filled with bathing suits, make-up, pharmacy items, bungy cords, lots of film for my Polaroid camera and other goods for bartering.
My Yacht Club had 23 boats in Mexico that winter. I had not been camping for a long time and looked forward to getting off the tourist track and inter- acting with the Mexicans. We had a great book titled; “The Hidden Mexico”. We followed its suggestions like a map. We had great adventures and ended up spending six months in Mexico. Some camping, some sailing and cruising with Yacht Club friends we encountered
. We would often check into a first class resort after spending a week or two camping to nurse our insect bites, wash our clothes and clean camping gear. I remember Ron pulling our old Van up to the door of this elegant suite and hauling our blackened cast iron pots and pans into the marble sunken tub and steel wooling them.
Christmas week we were in Mazatlan. In Mexico the beaches belong to the people. So, there has to be so much beach allocated for camping for the people, in-spite of the fancy hotels. So we found a camping area down the beach a short distance from the hotels.
Instead of buying each other gifts for which we had neither the room or desire. We decided we would celebrate Christmas by shopping for a Mexican family. This imaginary family would consist of a Mother, a Father, four children and a Grandpa and Grandma. We set off for town armed with $100. each to seek out the best bargains we could find. We bought a big plastic wash tub to put things in. We found dolls, balls, trucks, stuffed toys, children’s Spanish story books, crayons, notebooks, pencils, Holy Candles, Men’s black dress socks,embroidery kit, pretty dress fabric, a Christmas cactus in bloom. And then the food for a holiday feast. Two chickens, no turkeys were found. A ham, potatoes, vegetables, dinner rolls, and six big boxes of the popular Mexican cookies. So, they can invite the neighbors in for dessert. I am probably leaving out a lot of things, but you get the idea. We piled the tub high with bounty.
We happen to run into a fellow traveler from Seattle by the name of John. He was a commercial fisherman and was traveling by himself with his small house trailer. We told him what we were doing and he asked if he could join us on our quest to find our family. We agreed to include him and he insisted we go by his trailer where he gathered a couple of cans of salmon, a shirt and an old camera which he put in the tub. He insisted we take his pick-up truck, which happened to be Red. We placed the tub in the back and took off searching for our family. We had a map and drove to a small village about 25 miles out of the City. We agreed the family was not to have a TV antenna or a car. We turned up this pot holed road outside of the village. There was a community of about ten houses. No cars in this hamlet. The men were standing at the end of the road in their white shirts gossiping while waiting for the women to get the rest of family ready for Midnight Mass. I looked up this hill-side and there she was. The Mother of our family standing there on the veranda in her pink curlers, urging her children to get dressed. I was so excited to see her, just as I had envisioned her. We stopped the truck and the men carried the big over flowing tub up the stairs to her veranda. A ball fell out of the tub and bounced toward the men. A little boy caught the ball and his face lit up with joy. His father told him to return the ball to us. We shook our heads no and implied the ball was for the boy to keep.
The Senora was flustered with this unexpected visit. She quickly sent the children to retrieve some chairs for us. I told her in my “La Cocina Espanol”. That we were just there to wish her family a Merry Christmas and present her with these gifts. We could not stay. With that I handed her an envelope with some pesos amounting to about $20.00 US. With a note that said;” Feliz Navidad, su Norte American Amigos “. In spite of her protests we took our leave. Me explaining to the guys that a true gift should be given without one waiting for a thank you.
The most fun of that whole Christmas Eve adventure was the stories we told each other about what the conversation might have been after we left. They had to wonder if they had won the lottery. Or perhaps we were some missionary group.
What ever they might have assumed one thing was a fact. For that Mexican family that Christmas Eve;
Santa was three Gringos in a Pick-up Truck.