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Thursday, 04 April 2013

Camping at El Golfo

By Marcy Belson

Belson Camping

We lived 12 miles from the Mexican border. It was approximately another 80 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1965, there was no wait to cross into Mexico, the authorities didn't even stand up to look at you in your vehicle; they just sat in their chairs and waved you through.

The first 30 minutes in Mexico was spent navigating the busy streets in Mexicali. After that, it was pretty much a straight shot down the two way road to the mouth of the Gulf. Then we turned and drove East to the far side of the Sea of Cortez.

Another 30 minutes of road that quickly became a country lane and we would turn over a rickety railroad bridge, scary to maneuver the car and trailer, and we had arrived.

We never traveled alone. The caravan was made up of small trailers, pickups with camper shells, families with camping tents and cook stoves riding on two wheeled carts.

There was no charge. There was no one in charge. We simply drove down the hard sand and found a place we were satisfied to call "home" and set up camp in a oval or circle. Next, everyone with wood set up a fire area for the evening.

We usually had the evening meal of barbecue, sitting in our lawn chairs around the fire ring. The other meals were shared by one family with another but the big together meal was in the evening with the sun setting over the water.

Usually Gordon, with some of the other men, would go scouting for the local clam man. I remember one trip when he came back with our station wagon trunk area filled with clams.

We always went prepared for the feast with a huge clam pot to steam clams, corn meal to feed the clams and clean them of sand, plus pounds of butter to use as dip. My mouth waters at the memory.

That particular trip, I believe there must have been more than 20 people in our party. Even so, I ate so many clams, I slept sitting up. Some of the group ate the clams and drank the beer - good at the moment, not so good during the next day's hangover.

We had several schoolteachers in the group and they organized all the kids with supplies to make sand candles. It was fun, I enjoyed it, too. For years, in our home garage, the sand candles sat along a window, as well as all the shells from various trips.

Sometimes, people in our group brought their small sailboats and always there were small motorcycles and sand dune buggies.

My days were spent reading and sun bathing and getting ready to prepare the next meal for at least six people. Our children always had friends who traveled with us.

One memory is of a teenage girl who developed hives and I told her to go into our trailer and take a shower. I didn't tell her that our water was limited to what was in the tank. She used all of our water. It was a dry three days. Fortunately, we carried bottled water for food preparation and drinking.

I'd like to do that trip again. It probably isn't free now. There are probably condos on that beach. And clams cost more than 50 cents a dozen.

Viva El Golfo de Santa Clara!

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Wow! What awesome memories of a time when fewer people were around. Thank you for sharing.

Thanks for taking us along on this trip.

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