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March 23, 1997

Bahia Kino, Sonora, Mexico - kayaking complete

23rd Mar 1997:

I am writing this from the home of Chi Chi and Marilyn Rodriguez in Bahia Kino, Sonora county mainland Mexico - two kind folk at whose feet we landed two days ago on completion of our crossing of the Sea of Cortez from Baja California (Mexico) by sea kayaks. When we were route planning in San Diego a month and a half ago, a crossing by kayaks seemed far more fun and less laborious than biking the northern deserts of the mainland side. Anyway It was only 100 km across - three or four days maximum. What could be more simple? And kayaking - how hard can it be? Just wave your arms around a lot and we'll be there in two flicks of a lambs tail. Hmm - well may five or six at most.

A month later and quite a few more flicks than anticipated, I'm having flashbacks to crossing the USA by In line Skates a year or so ago; basically a monstrously steep learning curve precipitated in equal parts by gross optimism and even grosser stupidity (an essential ingredient for any successful venture in life). The quote "Ignorance is the mother of adventure" at the end of the last update seems to me too mild to be effective in describing the last few weeks and more specifically the last week in which we ran out of food and water, survived eating cactus, limes and distilling sea water using our cooking pot and a Camelbak (thankyou Camelbak !!!). Not to mention also; the scorpions, spiders and coyotes that have been our bed companions for what seems like a lifetime (aah I hate spiders even more than ever!); the challenge of tackling a stretch of water bottle-necked by islands in which the currents can run at 6-7 knots at maximum ebb (fastest point in the whole of the Gulf of California) creating giant whirlpools that would suck down a kayak in seconds and the El Norte winds (from the north) that whip to storm force in less than an hour; and the logistical gymnastics of shipping bikes across, returning hire kayaks etc. etc.

At times I was personally ready to jack the whole thing in and continue by bike on land - most notably at the El Progresso Ranch intersection when plan 'Y' to get the bikes shipped across fell through and it all seemed just too impossible; the time, effort and financial expense of completing a mere 100 km of open water seemed too much to justify. But somehow that 100 km symbolized the plight of the whole expedition in a nutshell; not just the physical aspect of paddling, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual hurdles of overcoming what many said was irresponsible and suicidal.

Keeping the faith is the key. 'Going the extra mile' - for what seems to the traditionally rational scientific left side of our brains to be unjustifiable - turned out to be the critical factor, as has turned out to be the case so many times in the past with this expedition. Its as if God, or whatever label you give the life-force in nature that stays out of our control, wants to push you to the limits - to force you to the point of giving up. Only then does the log-jam free itself with a solution that presents itself from nowhere - and in the case of the expedition the solution always involves PEOPLE - people that offer their time and expertise to move us on to the next square on the board; that's why we call it the first 'HUMAN-powered around the world expedition' - its not just Steve and I and our muscles, but a combination of ourselves and the people we meet along the way.

At El Progresso Ranch when we were ready to admit defeat, Havier drove up in his truck (the second vehicle to pass us in three days) and out of the blue offered to ship the bikes to the other side. If we'd given up three minutes earlier we'd have missed him and probably called off the crossing. It seems hard at the time when you're immersed in the context of the log-jam (seeing the wood from the trees), but if there's one thing that I've learnt on this trip (and there aren't that many - its a depressing phenomenon but I believe people don't change that much in life!) - I'm convinced of one thing; that you CAN ACHIEVE ANYTHING - if you can just keep the faith long enough. Life just wants you to pay your dues and to sweat a little first before you get what you want that's all.

OK, enough preaching - I must apologize - but its as important for ya'll to see what goes on behind the scenes as well as what goes on in front. Before beginning proper I'd like to thank several people who made the crossing possible. Most notably Gil and Mario (who lost their $10,000 boat in the crossing); John Weed our kayak guru who tolerated our 'freeform nonsense' for so many weeks with saintly stoicism; Ed Gillette who gave us his time and local almanac for navigating the area safely; Deb, Alberto and all at San Francisquito and El Progresso for acting as base camp and rescue HQ for the final crossing to Kino; Gustavo and the fishermen at San Raphael who fed us fish while stranded after the supply boat sank; the ponga crews on Tiburon Island who eventually saved us with water, and members of 'Rescue 1' in Kino who monitored our final push to Kino and who have looked after us here since arriving - especially Marilyn and Chi Chi, the tranquility of whose home has allowed me to put this update together the last few days. Lastly Chi Chi and family (no relation) from the Palapa Alcatraz in old Kino and Havier and crew from the resort in San Francisquito who coordinated our delivery of bikes to mainland side and return of hire kayaks to Bahia de Los Angeles. Apologies if I've forgotten anyone.

Now on with the wretched story...(mass yelling "GET ON WITH IT !!!!")

Campic #64 Master map of the route (Ed note - as mentioned above Jon you might want to scan this from the master for a better result rather than use digital picture).

Campic #3

It is possible to last three weeks out here without food, three days without water but only three hours without duct tape. We planned to be self sufficient for six days until meeting up with Gil and Mario (whose roof we'd help tar as a trade - see last update). We loaded each kayak with four gallons of water (calculating half a gallon per person per day for drinking plus a quarter extra for cooking), food and personal equipment. According to John we should expect everything to get wet - so much of our preparation time was spent sealing, double sealing and triple sealing food and equipment into zip-lock baggies. Even so, five out of a total of six cameras were ruined by sea water during the trip! The only survivors being the digital camera that took the pictures on this update and my Nikon FM2 (manual SLR) that was drenched on the first day but then raised from the dead after being immediately flushed with fresh water. (The trick here is a camera that is manual rather than dependent upon electronics that salt water will murder in no time).

Cam-pic #4

We were befriended by the usual posse of dogs that hang out on the beaches and in gas/petrol stations in Mexico. Basically there's no point in bringing any pets with you on vacation to Mexico - you just adopt them (or rather they adopt you) as you go - a different bunch at each stopping point. This will save mucho dinero in vaccination and transportation fees and you get a fresh new pet every few days which keeps things interesting for both two-foots and four-foots alike.

Cam-pic #5

Cam-pic #6

Cam-pic #7

Cam-pic #8 <1st island - Cabeza de Cavallo>

After setting off only four hours late (a record for us) we paddled a glassy sea across the Bahia de los Angeles (Bay of Angels) to the first island Cabeza de Cavallo (Horse Head Island) 6 NM (nautical miles) due east. There we spent a few hours stretching complaining muscles and exploring nearby beaches and cliffs. Everywhere we looked there were the heads of decapitated fish and sharks - off-cuts washed up from the fishing pongas returning with their day's catch (no horses head's though).

The island felt barren and inhospitable, home only to nesting gulls and cactus. Death seemed everywhere; whilst climbing I came across a small cave in the rocks - accessible only to birds and determined climbers - and on peering inside was met by the bodyless head of a gull, perched stiffly on the bare rock, motionless eyes staring out to sea, blood still fresh. I'm not superstitious at all but this really freaked me out - I couldn't explain it in rational terms - whether this was man or nature 'at play'. Anyway, by the time I reached the beach everyone else had had enough of this miserable bone yard and we pushed on. (NB I'm sure if the sun had been shining or we'd had tea not coffee for breakfast the place would have been charming - i.e. my fickle perception was off, not the place itself)

Two minutes later the French contingent in the double kayak (Ollie and Carol) and I were engaged in a fierce water fight using our paddles as giant spoons when I keeled over and found myself upside down studying the bottom of the ocean. A minute later I was back in the boat, everything soaked and body rapidly freezing. Hypothermia is apparently the #1 killer in ocean kayaking. The options were either to get back to shore and get naked in a sleeping bag with John or get paddling pronto. It was a tough decision but I ended up choosing to paddle - only so I didn't hold the up the group anymore.

The first night we made camp on the first beach we came to in the sheltered bay of Ensenada Quemado (see map). As we sat around the fire that evening reliving our first day Carol suddenly leapt up in the air yelling something in French. Two minutes we had a translation - spiders! Turns out not just one or two either. The more we looked the more there were (lesson - don't look and there aren't any - its all in the mind). The sand we were sitting on was home to a large colony of Wolf Spiders - basically harmless but still big enough to give me the heebeejeebees - two inches in diameter and could move like lightening.

Another beasty we became rapidly familiar with while burning rotten logs from the local vicinity were scorpions. The deader and more hollow the logs the more scorpions - rather like a scorpion-motel. Only when the logs are placed on the fire did the little darlings come out on deck and start waving the white flag. Bitter arguments ensued between us as to the right course of action - let the little buggers fry or perform rescue procedures. I feebly quelled my conscience by arguing that we are ourselves members of mother nature - and it doesn't take Charles Darwin to tell us that nature is cruel; the words 'political correctness' ring pretty hollow out in the harsh reality of desert Baja. So the little buggers fried. Sorry PC world.

Campic #12

Always a relief to see one's kayak still perched up above level of the high water mark in the morning. Bit of a stinker of a walk back to base camp otherwise.

Campic #14

With the sound track to 'Hawaii Five O' booming in our ears we leap for our kayaks every morning at the crack of midday (a bit like the helicopter scene in 'Apocalypse Now' - sorry if too colloquial).

Getting a group compromise on what to do each day proved really hard; some of us wanted more structure and to get on with it - pump out the miles more. Others - like myself - were quite happy to laze around in the nude all day getting a sun-burnt bum (no clothes necessary out there). One thing we all agreed on though during a group 'therapy' session on the second morning was that anyone getting stressed with 'the group thing' should let it all out for everyone to problem solve on, rather than bottling it up and stewing. The group verdict was always the same - nothing. But at least we came to one form of agreement that held - that being people could go off and do their own thing as long as the conditions were safe-ish (never guaranteed of course) and one other person was always in sight. The bottom line being each individual accepting full responsibility for possible death and no law suits over $20,000,000.

Looking back I feel bad for John who was torn between keeping an 'eye on the kids' and letting them go - the usual parent dilemma. Having worked for a number of years with disturbed children he was perfectly qualified for the task in hand. Joking aside he really did a great job in finding balance between the two and only once did we butt heads - and that ended with only a couple of black eyes. Thankyou John for introducing me to the world of kayaking that I now know is destined to become a major part of the expedition in the future.

Campic #18 Camp at Playa Las Animas (Bay of Souls). 4th day (layover day), spent recouping from a hectic third day's paddle of 15 miles from Ensenada Quemado in 6 foot seas - force 4 (big for us greenhorns); we met up with Elizabeth and Deb - two gringas on a double kayak who set up a massage parlour on the beach much to our disgust (it was terrible I tell you, terrible!!!).

Campic #19 Kayaking at night by the light of the moon was a great way to make progress out of the heat of the day. Usually the winds that kicked up regular as clockwork every morning at 10 am were absent and phosphorescence would often swill around the paddles like magic glitter on each stroke leaving a wake of tiny stars in the night (phosphorescence is a phenomenon involving microscopic animal with flashlights, not magic as previously thought).

Campic #22

Campic #24 As well as getting really close to wildlife (a 25ft shark cruised close to Ollie and Carol's kayak the morning this picture was taken) the kayaks were also perfect for getting in close to the rocks and exploring the many caves that can be found up and down the Baja coastline - that would otherwise be impossible to access by boat or foot. Ollie, Carol and I spent a few hours in this cave. A small beach inside allowed us to get out of the kayaks, picnic on Powerbars and M+M's , then swim in the lagoon and scramble around on the rocks home to these dashing red and purple crabs that marched up and down the vertical cliffs like uniformed troops on the parade ground. The water in the lagoon was so shallow you almost felt like reaching out and touching the myriad of multi-coloured fish, sea anemones, coral and sponges that unraveled as far as the eye could see like a giant pulsating carpet.

That day we paddled 18 NM (a long way in a kayak) and by the time we all grouped together darkness was setting in and we were all beat. No sandy beaches were to be found (6 NM south of Bernabe Rocks) and we resigned ourselves to a night sleeping on rocks. One location that Jenny found had a couple of sandy spots under the cliffs that seemed a great find at the time but not so great at 4 am the next morning when we awoke to the sound of rock slides. A split second later people came barreling out of their tents like scalded cats. All except Jenny and the French contingent who slept through the whole thing like babies (and they wonder why their gear got nicked on the beach in Ensenada!!).

Campic #27

The next morning we awoke to the sound of Gil and Mario searching for us in 'Acapulco'. Supplies at last!! Our joy was short lived though; four hours later Acapulco was upside down in the raging surf getting shredded on the rocks. The northerlies had swept in while we dithered on making plans for the day and by the time Gil, Mario and Jenny were on board heading for safe anchorage the wind was already up to force 7 - fatal for low lying fishing pongas like Acapulco. Ollie and I were on the beach at the time - just north of the San Raphael fish camp (see map) - and I remember hearing Ollie say "Oh ****" and turning at the last minute to see Acapulco list heavily to starboard then turn belly up at what must have been 20 knots (25 mph). Instantly the Hawaii Five 0 music kicked in once again and the beach erupted into something out of 'Bay Watch' with Ollie and I plunging into the surf in the double kayak with life-jackets to pick up survivors, john launching his red kayak to do the same and Carol running around like a blue-arsed fly with no clothes on helping salvage supplies and gear from the stricken boat.

Amazingly no one was badly injured. All three were thrown free of the boat and managed to climb on board her back like a tortoise to avoid drowning. Badly shaken though. And by the time we returned to the shore and began counting the toll of lost equipment and licking wounds in general there was a posse of local fishermen gathered relishing the debacle of naked women and gringos sitting on top of upturned boats - probably the most exciting thing happened in San Raphael (total pop 15!) for years!

Campic #29 We set up a make shift camp in the shelter of the dunes using our paddles and a tarpaulin to make a teepee. Meanwhile the El Norte raged for three days and prevented us from continuing any further on the kayaks.

Campic #28 This is Gustavo - a local fisherman from the San Raphael fishcamp - holding an octopus that he kindly bought on the first night. Luckily all our food supplies had already been off-loaded at Deb and Alberto's in San Francisquito in anticipation of our final crossing to the mainland, otherwise we'd have been in big trouble. Only the 55 gallon drum of fresh water was on board at the time and this was salvaged from the rocks.

Every evening for the three days Gustavo would walk the two miles from the fishcamp with fresh fish for our pot. Quietly spoken and polite he would come and sit by the fire each night, chat softly to Carol in Spanish some, otherwise just sit expressionless gazing into the fire. He joined John, Theresa and I in the final crossing to Kino kayaking in the double with Theresa - as a personal challenge and to try something different so he said. The conversations he and I had were fairly limited, but we didn't need language to both know the other was a searching for something in life - both into pushing personal limits and discovering more of the self. Also I learnt more Spanish in those few days than the rest of the trip so far.

Campic #30 (Ed note - like I mentioned on the phone Jon you might want to crop this one to avoid family reprisals back in France etc.!)

Its been said (William Golding?) that man is instinctively savage by nature and only assumes pseudo-modernistic airs and graces as a reaction to peer pressure. Place us out in the wilderness away from society and before long we will return to a state of savagery.

Here's the proof...

The morning of the third day at San Raphael we woke to a calm seas and decided to make the last push onto San Francisquito - 18NM - a long day. Coyotes had been snooping fearlessly all night around the camp (John woke at 3 am to find one standing over Mario's sleeping bag licking its lips) and had managed to break into some of our food and water supplies on the kayaks down on the beach. One gallon of water was ripped into and a Power-Bar lay in the sand a few yards away with teeth marks in it - obviously spat out in disgust! Far more appetizing evidently were Carol's knicker bag that had been torn into, and a trail of expensive Paris lingerie could be seen disappearing off down the beach towards the fishcamp (well trained coyotes!).

We said farewell to Gil and Mario who took off in their truck to take their badly damaged motor to a dealer in Loreto in the faint hope of repairing it. Gil had an amazing attitude to what looked to be a $10,000 loss - that being no one was hurt in the accident and boats and motors are just non-essential bits of 'stuff' that can be replaced. (We later learned that this was the sixteenth boat he'd sunk in his 20 year reign of terror on the high seas - and the third time he'd sunk Acapulco!). However this impressive show of blank acceptance and familiarity with disaster did little to dilute our feeling of guilt in our part played in the sinking of Acapulco.

Campic #33 During our crossing to San Francisquito we heard the distant blowing of whales a mile to the north and immediately began paddling like crazy in the hope of one of seeing one these leviathans of the deep at first hand. Our efforts were rewarded with what turned out for me to be my #1 experience of the trip so far...

Finback whales are the second largest behind Blues, and we knew there was a chance of a sighting since the Sea of Cortez is a popular calving location they migrate to from their usual stamping ground in Alaska.

They surface for six to seven breaths - a procedure that takes 3-4 minutes, then dive again and will resurface 5-10 minutes later somewhere in the general direction of their northerly or southerly journey. The one seen here in the picture was one of two large adults traveling at a lugubrious pace (I can't imagine any other pace at that size) to the north. Just as we thought we'd lost them they surfaced 100 meters to the south of us and passed so close we had to paddle away at the last minute to avoid getting mown down. I was so damn excited and my hands were so wobbly I barely managed to take a picture before they disappeared again. Suffice to say this picture really does no justice to the incredible feeling of mute admiration and affection that we felt for these graceful giants. I remember feeling really disappointed about how our own species has trashed much of the planet, and how we could learn a lot from these creature's evident sense of well-being and peace with the world.

Campic #37 San Francisquito at Deb and Alberto's place; this is what happens if you fall asleep to close to the fire!

Campic #36 Ollie with his replacement rainjacket; not quite the same as his Bellweather - but the same principle involved. Who ever said the expedition was cheap?

On arrival in San Francisquito Jenny decided she was ready to travel on her own. Likewise the French contingent decided to skip the crossing to the mainland side and continue biking down through Baja to La Paz, cross over by ferry and meet up with us in Mazatlan, six hundred miles to the south on the mainland side.

I remember when I invited people back in San Francisco (anyone who can get a bike and themselves to wherever we are) to join us on the road to Peru, the idea was that people who couldn't afford six years out of their life to go traveling around the world could come and be a part of the expedition for a short period of time on an active level rather than just hearing about it or reading about it second hand through the 1 800 #, the media or the internet. As we keep on saying to kids and adults alike that we meet along the way - you don't need to be an expert to do this or anything that you want to do in life; the only thing you need to do is just begin it, keep the faith, and the rest will be taken care of. This was the basis for Jenny, Ollie and Carol coming in the first place - to use the expedition as a spring board to go off and do their own trip or with other people once they felt experienced and streetwise enough to bike on their own.

So when Jenny said she was ready to go I felt really good that the expedition - or rather the group - had served its purpose and she was ready to move on and start her own adventure. Being part of a group is hard - you are continually finding yourself having to compromise and dilute what you would otherwise do on your own when it is advantageous for all the individuals involved to stick together. From the very beginning we all tried hard to walk that fine line between individuals being individuals but within a unity - a paradox that I know I have found hard to resolve myself with Steve in the past and we have found hard at times on the trip from San Francisco. Suffice to say I know Jenny felt she was experienced enough in road-lore to fly the nest and quit having to compromise so much. Power to her.

I know she has inspired many married women along the way to be able to 'have their cake and eat it'. I know she inspired me in the way she threw herself into the trip at the start with NO traveling experience and then had the bottle to make the break when it felt right. I'm sure it helps having a cool husband like Mac to be able to have the freedom to just upsticks and go like that, but that should take nothing away from her balls (sorry - no other better word comes to mind!). I laugh as I write this with the image of her nervously setting off in Monterey two months ago with all the gear but no idea, compared to the image of her bundling her bike into the back of the ice-truck in San Francisquito wearing nothing but her filthy expedition T-shirt (white really is stupid colour), a pair of long-johns that look like she stole them off a homeless person and a huge grin stretching ear to ear. No gear now - but all the idea!

Campic #39 With Jenny, Ollie and Carol gone our motley crew was honed down to a cozy three - John, Theresa and myself - with one addition Gustavo from the San Raphael fishcamp who joined us for the 70 mile kayak crossing to Kino.

As I mentioned in the introduction there were points when the logistics of getting bikes ferried across and kayaks returned to the hire place in Bahia de los Angeles became nearly impossible. For three days we waited at this crossroads at the El Progresso ranch waiting for a ride with the kayaks 40 miles back to the San Raphael fishcamp in the hope of persuading Cebolla (means onions), one of the fishermen there, to ferry the bikes over and the kayaks back. We had met Cebolla plus comrades four days previously whilst celebrating his life (he'd just been rescued from two days drifting in his ponga) with mucho cerveza (beer) and mucho tequila, and he had agreed to the deal whilst completely drunk. Hence we thought it wise to seal the deal in the cold light of day.

This picture was taken in the middle of rush hour traffic at the El Progresso intersection. As you can see the flow had slacked off enough at this point (1.5 cars every 24 hrs) to allow us to cook pancakes and practice discus-throwing using dried cowpats.
Bronco - our current adopt-a-dog was keen as you can see to help out in the kitchen department. Fair payment I hasten to add for his valiant defense of our food and water supplies at night from coyotes (for a mere 10% commission of the food that we only discovered incurred after leaving!).

The same day Havier from San Francisquito rolled up in his truck and offered to do the ferrying for $200; just within our budget; the crossing was on!

Campic #34 Around this time my shoes fell apart with interesting results; everything either bites, spits, has spines or pricks in Baja - as my feet kept on telling me.

The Sea of Cortez crossing - San Francisquito to Kino.

Campic #63 We completed our first island hop (11NM) to Isla Lorenza at night using a half moon as guidance. Our Magellan GPS's were up in Monterey in the US and John's compass was broken so we had to use line of sight all the time. Luckily the tides at the time we were crossing were the weakest for the whole month of march (I wish I could say it was good planning on our part but it was just a jammy fluke), so for four days we had little to worry from the 6-7 knot currents between the islands that we'd read about, and the lethal whirlpools that can occur as a result.

Campic #41 Dolphins would come and perform in schools of five or more around the kayaks. Like the whales, they exude an amazing energy of community and all around goodnaturedness - something I've always been rather cynical of hearing from other people until experiencing them at first hand myself.

Campic #42 All along the southern edge of Isla Esteban we encountered hordes of sea-lions that would take to the water from their colonies on shore to come and check us out. They too have the natural instinct for play as dolphins do, and entertained us for many hours showing off with party tricks and water-born acrobatics around the kayaks, snorting at us like alarmed horses everytime they came up for air.

Campic #48 Use # 1001 for duct tape - sealing up your nipples to prevent nipple-rash developing from kayaking.

Campic #51 This looks worse than it is - honestly mum! (that's the problem about the web - no secrets!). The Stove I was using to make our early morning coffee decided to blow up in my face in retaliation for me beating it against the side of a cliff on Isla Lorenzo the previous morning. I've never had a good relationship with the damn thing - due in part I admit to my failure to read the instruction manual. Still, some things just have to be learnt different ways that's all.

The problem here was the lack of sand on the beach we were camped on. When I hit the deck to bury my face in the ground and prevent air from getting to the gasoline on my face, I found myself trying to cram my head into crevices between large boulders; not too effective as you can see.

Lesson #2 - R.T.F.I. (you figure it out!)

By the time we reached Dog Bay on Isla Tiburon (Shark Island - great!), we were running low on supplies and most critically water (I thought about blaming it on the giant two foot rats that supposedly inhabit Tiburon - but I thought better of it). We'd planned on traveling light to make the crossing quicker but the stove episode held us up and we had just one gallon of drinking water left when Beach Bum - one of the fishing boats from Kino - stopped and gave us an extra gallon.

This would have been fine - we only had 20NM to reach Kino - but that night in Dog Bay the El Norte's picked up and we were stranded for the next two and a half days without food or water; a situation we intended avoiding if at all possible since reading about alleged cannibalism on the island amongst the Seri Indians earlier this century.

Campic #44 Lucky for us gringos Gustavo knew how to utilize certain local types of cactus with water retaining properties - in particular this small Barrel Cactus seen here being ripped apart by John (now delirious with thirst - only kidding J).

Campic #45

Campic #46 Another idea - interestingly enough from John - was to post Theresa out on the beach without any clothes on and wave down a passing ponga.

Campic#47 In his characteristic efficient style John insisted on overseeing the operation through his binoculars. Thing was though, Gustavo and I couldn't work out why he kept looking at the same point on the horizon. Dedicated though - I'll give him that much. Made her stay out there for hours!

Campic #52 After contracting severe sunstroke we relieved Theresa with John's kayak that we knew could do the same job of attracting a passing ponga but at a fraction of the hourly rate that Theresa was charging us.

Campic #56 I remember spending hours staring out of the chemistry labs at school daydreaming about revolutionary methods of 'no trace body-part disposal' with the chemistry teacher Mr Gubbins in mind. At the same time wondering as to the relevance in terms of my life and the real world of all the mindless facts and formulas he poured down our necks like liquid concrete.
One experiment seemed fun though - and I'm rather glad I was listening at the time - that being distillation of impure liquids such as sea water into fresh drinking water.

This is a stil I jerry-rigged using the largest of our cooking pots, a a camelbak, some scrap tubing and of course - DUCT TAPE !! We never had to really rely on the device as we were saved before things got too out of hand. But the thing worked, and apart from scalding my tongue (by this time I had contracting 2nd degree burns down to a T), it gave a great psychological boost to me and - well no one else actually - that we wouldn't die out there. Thankyou Mr Gubbins - may you live to a ripe old age - your name is hallowed now.

Campic #53 Black hole of Calcutta; in the heat of the day we tried to conserve water by lying still, breathing through our noses and not arguing too much.

Campic #54 Theresa seen here cooking the last supper - limes, a couple of moldy potatoes and - er well, that's it. We tried fobbing the stuff onto the dogs but even they wouldn't touch it. Nice gesture though Theresa.

Campic #55 John finally managed to wave down this passing ponga. Saved !

Campic #57 Our gallant saviours doling out the water...

Campic #58 ...supervised by our current posse of adopt-a-dogs.

Campic #60 As soon as the ponga left, the Gods looked down, took pity and decided to give us a break; the winds died and we headed out for the final 18NM to Kino

Campic #61 ...Arrival on the beach in Bahia Kino. End of trip!

26th March...Tomorrow I will head out alone to Mazatlan 500 miles to the south where I will meet up with Ollie to continue south to the Gualemalan border. I am relishing alone time right now - not having to do 'the group thing' for a while.

Theresa returned to the US with John to develop film shot by local kids using the disposable cameras she has been using for her photo-exchange program; look out for the results on the web coming up soon.

My face has healed good thanks to the aloe plants in Chi Chi and Marilyn's garden and I feel rested and back in contact with things back in the US having been out of communication for so long. From now on the updates will be shorter and more regular as I crunch miles to catch up on our so called 'schedule'. And with any luck we should be taking delivery of a satellite uplink unit that will enable updates to be sent from the road every few days. E - mail if you like - theexpedition@aisintl.com and it only leaves me to thank our title sponsor Tandem Computers whose continuing support allows us to continue, and to the greatest support network an expedition could possibly want keeping things together back in the US - you know who you are! Thank ya'll - till next time.

- Jason

Posted at 5:58 AM