We left, not at dawn, but at 8:30, while Doug was gazing at the sea.
We drove not through the mountains of Sonora, a foot deep in snow, but through Nogales. From clear skies to gray, then to drizzle and on into moderate rain. Doug’s eyes remained glued to the sea.
We crossed the border in the rain, moved into the wrong lane, and had a lengthy drive through the fringes of Nogales, avoiding potholes the size of small ponds, past rivulets spilling down the mountains.
Doug’s eyes stayed firm.
What we didn’t yet know, and what others were beginning to learn, was that Doug was dead.
He wasn’t in good health when he and his wife left the north country for the seaside Mexican village. But Doug wanted one more winter there, on the beach, their rig parked in the space behind our trailer.
On the morning we rose early to finish packing for our trip south, Doug got up, stepped outside to watch the dawn, sat down, and died.
The officials were called. The coroner pronounced him dead an hour or so after his wife discovered him, and the mortuary, thirty-five miles away, got there hours later. Doug’s last look at the sea was over five hours long.
Meanwhile, we sloshed our way south, got stuck in traffic jams, were held up by inspection points, and moved in and out of at least six different rains, some only a minute long and one over two hours long.
In that early morning, another RV park resident found her dog wasn’t going to make it through surgery and she had to have him put down. She fled her trailer in tears, ran to her friend, Doug’s wife, and well, you know what she found there.
Not a good morning in Kino.
We arrived late afternoon after over eight hours on the road – it’s usually a six hour trip. We arrived tired and hungry. I’d been looking forward to seeing Doug: he’d been kind and helpful to me, had watched our trailer vigilantly when we weren’t there. But when we arrived tired and hungry, there was a note on the door from another neighbor, warped by the day’s rain, blue ink ribbons streaking the page. Doug was dead.
The rest of the week, fortunately, was better. For all of us. Every day, though, something went wrong. Some little plan was skewed, one small scheme went awry.
Mornings colder than they should be this time of year, one so cold it took me hours to get warm. Sunshine that drew me outside combined with winds that drove me indoors. The chile relleno place, closed. The grilled chicken place, ditto. Twice. The backup chicken place, out of chicken.
The gas station that pumped more than the car needed, by at least a gallon.
The dead sea turtle on the beach.
This trip was the other side of Kino. To be sure, there were some grand reunions with people I hadn’t seen since last winter and there were fun times with others that I see regularly. Met new friends. Attended a craft fair. gave some gifts, donated to the local food pantry.
But the other side, the side of loss, of plans scrambled, of things gone wrong, this side was here too. Doug is gone. His wife will leave with his ashes and not return.