Our own customer systems development manager, Brad Van Orden, recently put our Air Breeze personal wind turbine to the test during a two-week trip through Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. In this short series, Brad will share his adventures on the road and how the Air Breeze helped to keep the wind in the sails of “Nacho,” his 1984 Volkswagen camper van, along the way.
When traveling abroad my wife and I live by the doctrine that while every place has danger, in general people everywhere are good. This sentiment was clearly not shared by our friends and family upon their learning of our intentions to travel overland in Mexico for two and a half weeks. My grandfather made a lingering moaning sound in a minor key. My mother-in-law made a grim face while sliding her finger across her throat. My neighbor suggested I build a flamethrower.
“Are you bringing a gun?”
“You’ll probably need about $100 per day for bribes.”
“I heard they will kidnap and torture you.”
“My brother’s friend’s uncle knew a guy who saw a van that had been shot over a thousand times.”
“If someone tells you to stop, just run over them.”
Approaching the border I recalled the two warnings common to each of our advisors; “Don’t stop in a border town or you’ll be killed,” and “Don’t eat at street carts or you’ll get Montezuma’s Revenge.” Life-saving advice always follows the same pattern; beginning with an action that should not be attempted followed by a hyperbolic statement of consequence should the subject be foolish enough to perform said action. We crossed the border unarmed and promptly stopped for tacos at a street cart.
After more than a week, one can imagine my surprise at having reached the end of the Baja peninsula without being tortured, killed, or afflicted by Montezuma’s Revenge, although we were undoubtedly on the edge of danger at all times. In one case, a burly man on the roadside holding a greasy car part gave me directions while enthusiastically smiling. The directions were correct and we didn’t end up in an ambush situation. Later, a gang of street kids surrounded us and told us how to get to the highway. We weren’t robbed, and again arrived successfully at our destination. We entered one military checkpoint after another and were met by the intimidating boyish smiles of young soldiers, with whom we made small talk and discussed the intricacies of our wind turbine battery charging system. One afternoon while stopped on the roadside, a car pulled over and its driver got out. He hurriedly approached my window and without any hesitation he violently and savagely…offered advice on where to find a local fish market at a nearby beach.
Despite so many close calls, we finally did lose our battle to the Mexican militants while camping on a beach at Pichilingue. After enjoying a dinner of Italian sausage and peppers, we turned in for the night. At this point the militants moved in and stealthily set up their operation at a thatched hut just down the beach. They turned on loud music with accordions, and began to sing along in unison. As the militants became imbibed with alcohol their singing became less coherent and more off-key. This was obviously a tactic to get me to put in my earplugs, at which time the perpetrators saw their opportunity and struck swiftly and with a vengeance. Two of them (one having size 12 feet, the other size 8) stealthily crept into our camp and put on our sandals, and then slipped away, veiled by the cover of darkness. In the morning upon realizing that we had been attacked, I slumped onto the sand, craned my neck skyward, and between slobbering sobs I wailed incomprehensible sentence fragments while feebly punching the air.
In the end, our “people are generally good” doctrine held true. Of the dozens of encounters in Mexico, we had a single negative experience. We still cling to the hope that they were just having such a drunken good time that they accidentally grabbed the wrong footwear, and are still searching for the rightful owners of those sandals.