By Gene Kira, Oct. 10, 2005, as published in Western Outdoor News:
The young man was tall and slim, and a little too well dressed, I thought, to be walking down the La Ribera road in the hot afternoon sun. He was carrying a plastic shopping bag with some packages in it, and he was headed in the same direction as I was, so I stopped my rented VW and asked if he'd like a ride.
The food was for his mother in the nearby hamlet of Santa Cruz, he said, and as we drove the short three kilometers to her house, we exchanged some pleasantries about nothing in particular.
It turned out that he was actually on his way back to work at the El Presidente Hotel in San Jose del Cabo, where he was a security guard. With business slow after Hurricane Juliette the week before, he had taken a few days off to visit his mother, and he was planning to begin his return trip after running this last-minute shopping errand for her.
"Well, I'm headed for the airport, so I can take you to San Jose," I suggested, and the offer was accepted.
We arrived at what he said was his mother's house, but I had to take his word on that, because I couldn't actually see it. The tropical garden plantings and shade trees were growing so profusely around it they literally covered the building, leaving only a small gap through which the man disappeared for a moment and then returned with his hotel uniform, laundered and dried to a crisp white in the hot sun.
As we neared the highway, I asked if his family had suffered from the hurricane, and he replied that everyone was fine except for his brother whose house had been located in the arroyo of Las Cuevas, just south of the large fishing and tourist community of East Cape's Los Barriles-Buena Vista area in Baja California Sur, Mexico.
I had the feeling that the young man probably would not have thought to volunteer this information, had I not inquired upon it. Only a few hours earlier, I had visited the destroyed streets of the colonia of La Gunia at Cabo San Lucas, where hundreds of houses were washed away by Hurricane Juliette, and I could well imagine the disaster that had struck this man's brother.
Did he lose much? "Yes, a pickup and a refrigerator, and many other things, in addition to the house itself."
And what will he do now? The man looked at me. "He will build another house. He will be all right. Perhaps the government will give him a small piece of land higher up."
At the wide East Cape arroyo of Las Cuevas, we stopped for a while and watched the Caterpillars work to fill the half-kilometer-wide gap where the flooding had cut the highway in two. Brown water still flowed through, and tractors were pulling cars across it.
"There is where my brother's house was," the young man said, pointing across the river. Then he pointed to some people milling about a shade tarp next to some trees. It looked like some of them were planning to spend the night. "They lived there too. There were eight houses and a store. But nobody was hurt."
"I have many American friends," the young man said. "I feel sorry for what happened to your country on September 11th. We are afraid there will be a war now, and many innocent people will be killed."
We paused near the group of people under the tarp, and I thought of the half-gallon of purified drinking water in my bottle. "Do they need anything?"
"Well, they need almost everything."
"No. I mean are they suffering? Do they need water?"
"No, they have water and food."
"But, will they be okay?"
"They have lots of problems right now, but no big problems, like you do. They will be all right."
We pulled up onto the highway, and I took a last look at them in my mirror as we started down the road to San Jose where I would catch my flight to the U.S.
(Related East Cape articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main East Cape information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the East Cape area in "Mexico Fishing News.")