Sex, Drugs, and Public Health

June 14, 2015

BLOG from the Sea of Cortez 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — cbmosher @ 12:05 pm



Tres Vírgines

After a warm afternoon at Bahia Balandro, admiring the famous mushroom rock and less famous sandy beach, we sail toward our final mooring in La Paz. Tom Uno is retracing his previous route.




“I’m following my breadcrumbs,” he points to his GPS navigation device. “The red line is where we sailed coming north to Loreto. Now we follow it going back south.”

Or, you could – – –




“Look!” Tom Dos points behind us. Our wake dissolves back into the sea’s surface after 50 yards; a few hundred yards from our transom, we see white, disturbed water. Then, up from the surface like a nose-first submarine, a humpback spears the air, twists 180 degrees, spreads his flippers, and crashes back.

The foaming splash, like a monstrous water lily, spreads its tsunami petals to all compass points and rises on the horizon higher than our mast. Then a second whale breeches, twists, and crashes back with an explosion of water.

A dozen times over five to ten minutes, the two repeat the anticipatory breeching and monumental splashes.

“Why do they do that?” I muse aloud. Just in case one of the Toms has the answer. Mr. Google is unavailable.

“It’s always either food or sex,” Tom Uno philosophizes.


Sounds ridiculous to me. I take a breath, preparing to rebut. My mind races thru several species – including our own – looking for the debate points to negate his axiom. I end up having to exhale, wordless.

Once in the slip, Tom Uno assesses the wounds inflicted on Ketch 22 by its nine years of sailing. Like the skin of a mariner’s face – tanned to leather by sea salt, cracked by the sun, wrinkled by work and cold rain – his boat wears the evidence. (The Catch: The only way to keep your sailboat pristine is to not sail it.) The pump on the head doesn’t work (see BLOG # 2), the zipper on his dodger is so corroded it snaps in half, but most annoyingly, his wind vane atop the mast is broken.

“That damned osprey did it,” Tom Uno shakes his mop of salt-impregnated hair. “Let’s fix that.”




And he rigs a paint roller with plastic spikes, which we hoist on a broom handle. Goal is to make it uncomfortable for the bird to perch on – and break – the wind direction vane while looking for food.




Or sex.

I need a new belt. Not so easy to find one with quality and without gaudy spangles. We wander many blocks, beyond the tourist zone, to a neighborhood where we find dozens – maybe hundreds – of sidewalk kiosks. Belts, of soft leather un-adorned, hang in one kiosk. A young girl staffs the place. She jumps up, and is quite helpful. At her feet I glimpse a cradle and infant. I look at her again. She is, maybe, sixteen. Already, most of life’s doors have been slammed and locked to her.

I buy the belt. No haggling to reduce the price, as Gringos like to do. She’ll need every penny. I grit my teeth as we walk away, sad, and a bit angry, thinking of her abbreviated childhood.


Birth control !


“Anybody hungry?” asks a Tom. “Best restaurant in town is Tres Vírgenes.

“There are three of us,” someone retorts sophomorically, “so – perfect choice.”

My surgically manipulated knee, still swollen, and inflamed by the walking, proposes that we take a taxi.

“Let’s go by the cathedral,” Tom Dos requests, clutching his i-phone like a camera.

You can take the boy off the altar, I think about all three of us, but you can’t eradicate the Altar Boy.

The cab driver rolls us, low-rider like, slowly past the old Spanish Mission style cathedral.

“You know,” Tom Dos philosophizes, “the Vatican needs to make Judas a saint.”

Is this flippancy, hypoglycemia, or a well-thought-out Heresy? I wonder. “Interesting statement. Explain.”

“Without Judas, there is no final, dramatic climax to Jesus’ story,” Tom Dos discloses his logic, “and the myth would probably not have persisted through today. Can you imagine Judas saying ‘no way, God. I’m not doing that to my friend?’ No crucifixion; Jesus becomes just another of many prophets, lost in history. But, thanks to Judas, God’s script played out perfectly.”

I’m impressed with his Borges-like thinking. And I recall, again, the short story which I consider the most brilliant of any I’ve ever read:


Three Versions


So now there are Four Versions of Judas.


As we drink in the architecture of the cathedral, a young girl, 14 maybe, walks past, carrying books, on her way to somewhere. As she transects that magical and invisible line which, we were taught, extends from the tabernacle, out thru the closed doors, and deep into the world, she crosses herself. She does it so reflexively, that you know Catholicism is deeply imbued within her. In spite of the books.

Recalling the girl of the kiosk, my brain wants to warn her:


Birth Control !!


The restaurant has arisen from an old Spanish style interior patio. The house was once a series of rooms, now converted to bar and kitchens, that surround the patio on all four sides.

The menu is in English. Maitre ‘de is fluently bilingual. This is, initially, disappointing to me as I prefer, when in Latin America, to use Spanish and avoid Gringos. But that’s impossible in this town and this restaurant. For a long time now, I’ve considered myself to be a citizen, not of any single country, but of Everywhere.

Borges said it better, as he always does:

“As I think of the many myths, there is one that is very harmful, and that is the myth of countries.”

“So,” I embark, feeling a need for resolution at this end of ten days on the water and 70 years on the planet, “what is the Meaning of Life? Quick! Before civilization fucks up our brains again.”

“Don’t know,” one of the Toms throws it back at me. “What do you think?”

Do I go Serious or Smart-ass? They want me to set the tone.

“Maybe it’s the Meaning of Your Life. Each of us with his own. So, for me – – – it’s getting to the place, finally, where I’m comfortable with who I am.”

“Take long, did it?”

“Shit, Man.”


Post-prandial stroll along the Malecón. The sea on our left, tiled promenade underfoot, undulating palm trees above, incessant parade of fat grandmothers, little girls blowing bubbles, skateboarders, geriatric sailors, hand-in-hand lovers and Saturday evening primped-up flirters.

Tres Vírgenes. Kiosk girl. Catholic Schoolgirl. I’m watching for number three.

The Toms walk (and I limp) toward the marina and bed, taking in the show. “Taxi,” says one of the Toms. “Let’s give your knee a break.”

Our flagged-down taxi does a u-turn across the busy street, pulling in from of the Hotel Perla. Five girls stand around in front in their nicest dresses, excited for Saturday night.

Chica bonita!” the elderly taxi driver nods toward them.

Four of the five are victims of their own bodies: skinny, gangly girls in their almost-but-not-quite-yet-grown-into-their-women’s figures stage. They’ve done their Latin American best with their hair, eye makeup, and dresses. They teeter on high heels like kids trying out stilts for the first time.

It’s lovely to see – teen similarity world-wide. The only way to know how it is to be an adult is to practice, after all.

But the fifth girl is that one in every High School who provokes envy and distain from the other girls, and incites uncontrollable erections from the boys. She, too, wears make-up which attempts to add years to her face. For her, it succeeds at bit more than it did with her friends. But it’s the genetics and hormones of her body that have sprinted her far ahead of her buddies. She has poured all her curves into an exceedingly tight skirt which ends at mid-thigh. She poses atop her high heels with the balance and ease of Venus standing on her half-shell.

“Babies,” the driver says in English.

I inquire in Spanish if he meant they are in danger of getting pregnant.

“No,” he clarifies. “They are ‘babes.’ ”

I glance again at Virgin number three.








(photos by me and Tom Marlow; see also )

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