Journeys and Connections: A Week in Guaymas

A visa agent from Monterrey, a taxi driver with dreams, a young author from Guaymas, and a boat all-rounder: four short stories about kindness and assistance in encounters with strangers in Guaymas.

Julio – The Visa Agent’s Story

We find ourselves anchored in Bahia Catalina, Guaymas, a welcome return to civilisation after a fortnight in secluded anchorages. It’s Sunday, and our provisions are dwindling, necessitating a shopping trip. Our stay was not meant to be this extended. The urgency is palpable; we’re out of milk for our morning coffees, and even the powdered substitute is depleted. Bahia Catalina, perched on the outskirts of Guaymas, is barley accessible by car, a fact that deters most taxi drivers. Our usual go-to, César, is regrettably away, celebrating his father’s 76th birthday in Hermosillo, some 150km distant.

Resorting to WhatsApp, I liaise with a taxi firm. After some negotiation, they assure us of a pickup at noon. Yet, 12:20 rolls around with no sign of a taxi. Just then, a white car cruises past, executes a U-turn, and approaches us. The driver, a Mexican, rolls down his window to inquire about our destination. We’re headed to the centre, we inform him. Coincidentally, so is he, and he invites us to join him.

Conversing in fluent English, he reveals he hails from Monterrey, near the American border. His role as a visa agent brings him here, assisting a company in securing US visas for its Mexican employees. An unexpected extension of his stay led him to explore the local sights on TikTok, which is how he discovered Bahia Catalina and its stunning seaside stone arch.

Curious, we inquire about the complexity of obtaining a US work visa for Mexicans. He reassures us that it’s straightforward, barring any prior incidents. His expertise lies in arranging seasonal work visas for American agricultural enterprises. Business is thriving, with around 1,500 applications processed annually, a reflection of Americans’ reluctance to work on farms. His comprehensive service, priced at USD 650, covers accommodation, meals, and cross-border transport during the three-day visa procedure.

He then turns the conversation to us, asking about our line of work. We mention our involvement in social media management for small businesses. This piques his interest, and he wonders if we have a business card. Contact details are exchanged, pleasantries are shared, and he kindly drops us off at Walmart, marking the end of an unexpected yet enlightening encounter.

Alfonso – The Taxi Driver

We’ve just finished our shopping spree at Walmart, with milk for our morning coffee safely in tow. Now, the challenge is finding our way back to Bahia Catalina. But before that, we have a little detour to make. I stumbled upon an advert for Indian cuisine in a Facebook group and couldn’t resist ordering some Butter Chicken and Naan via WhatsApp. Picking it up is our next mission.

Our game plan involves summoning an Uber for this errand and then persuading the driver to take us all the way to the boat, even though Bahia Catalina lies beyond Uber’s usual operating area. Enter Alfonso, steering his Chevrolet Beat. We lay out our plan and ask him to quote us a price for the extended journey. He ponders for a moment, noting that the area’s remoteness makes it an unpopular destination for drivers. Eventually, he quotes us 150 pesos (USD 7.50).

As we drive, Alfonso inquires about our origins and our purpose here. We share that we’re from Switzerland, exploring on our boat, and turn the question back to him. He shares that he’s been taxiing for a few years, following a two-decade stint running his own video game store. But the business eventually took a downturn.

Alfonso confides that he harbours dreams of becoming a truck driver, armed with all the necessary permits, which he proudly indicates are stashed in a red folder between the seats. However, his lack of experience has been a stumbling block in securing employment. He’s even contemplating investing in his own truck, a 500,000 pesos (USD 25,000) investment, to kickstart his independent trucking venture.

As we pass a bus depot, Alfonso muses that while he could opt for bus driving, the earnings are modest (10,000 pesos / USD 500 per month) compared to what he can make as a taxi driver. Nearing Bahia Catalina, he reflects that it’s been two decades since his last visit. He hints at the area’s seclusion and potential dangers, given its isolation.

Upon arrival, Alfonso assists us with unloading our groceries and takes a moment to admire our small dinghy and the anchored boat. We express our gratitude, “mucho gusto,” pleased with the encounter, and hand him 200 pesos (USD 10) for his troubles. After all, it was quite a journey into the unknown.

Mario – The Author

I’m walking along the main road in Guaymas, with a blue duffle bag on my back, heading to the laundrette. I hear a “hola” behind me and ignore it. Then, a bit closer, I hear “hola, buenos dias” again. Not wanting to be rude, I respond with a “hola.” The young Mexican smiles at me and asks in good English if I’m an American tourist. I clarify that I’m from Europe, Switzerland. He expresses curiosity about what brings me so far from home, and I briefly mention my journey on the boat.

We continue side by side along the main road, which is also a construction site, dodging holes, piles of gravel, and barriers. He then offers to help with my backpack, but I politely decline. I ask him in return where he’s from and what he does. He’s a local, from Guaymas. He inquires if I’m familiar with “Creativo” in San Carlos, a creative studio that offers various courses like pottery and painting. He works there and suggests it’s a great place to meet people, mainly gringos (Americans). It’s easily accessible from Guaymas by bus. I dodge the suggestion; I’m not looking to take a course to meet new people. With the boat, I meet new people almost daily.

He asks if he can walk with me a bit longer and shares that he’s about to publish his first book, which he’s been working on for four years. Interested, I inquire about the book’s content. He shares his personal revelation he says, detailing his past struggles with drug addiction, single parenthood, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Seeking an escape, he ventured into the desert and experienced a transformative epiphany.

As we reach the laundrette, he expresses his gratitude for our exchange and heads back the way we came. He only wanted to withdraw money in the first place.

Francisco – The Versatile Helper

I’m anchored solo with Milagros in Guaymas, as David has set off for Hong Kong. Weary from a night disturbed by gusty winds, I still resolve to go ashore, craving some physical activity and needing to replenish our water reserves. I prepare to take two empty 20-litre bottles to shore, a task made manageable by the water refill station’s proximity, just 500 metres away. At the dock, I find a trolley I can borrow, easing the burden of my errand.

Midway to my destination, a car with its windows down pulls alongside me. The driver, calling me by name, offers assistance with the water bottles. It’s Francisco, a jack-of-all-trades day labourer familiar with all things nautical. We had been introduced by another sailor a few weeks back. Without hesitation, he’s out of his car, loading the bottles and trolley into his vehicle. He explains he’s just returned from San Carlos, where a promised job fell through. Now, he’s checking if there’s any work to be found here.

Together, we head to the water station and fill the bottles. Francisco insists on carrying the full bottles himself, a gesture of kindness I’m grateful for. We return to the marina, where he unloads the bottles and transfers them into the dinghy. I attempt to offer him a tip, but he refuses, stating it’s a favour among friends. He then hands me his number, suggesting I reach out if I ever need assistance again.

I hope you enjoyed these short stories. If you want, you can support what we’re doing with a little contribution. Thank you 🙂

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