Saturday, February 20, 2010

More road adventures

Feb 9, 2010 7:00am, sunrise in La Paz, Mexico. Ginni leaves Paradise, the hotel. She heads north to Punta Coyote to pick up kayakers. She drives an old pickup truck and trailer with a cooler full of lunch and beer. She leaves the highway on a marginally paved road towards San Juan de la Costa, then turns off on a dirt road towards San Evaristo. Trip odometer reads 245.5 miles at 7:39am.

At mile 245.8, she crosses the first running water hazard. It’s an arroyo that filled with recent rains and wiped out the road. It was bulldozed back into place, and several culverts were added, all fervently gushing towards the ocean. Refusing defeat, the water still reaches one arm over the road and scratches away.

Mile 246.8, a roadrunner crosses the road, looking cartoonish.

Mile 247.8 7:50am, 2.3 miles into the dirt road, Ginni notices in the mirror that something is askew. The rear upright on the trailer, isn’t. It’s about 25 degrees to the right. Ginni starts laughing, and comes up with yet another use for NRS webbing straps: tying together the trailer.

Mile 249.1 8:00am. The rear upright, again, fails to be. It is nowhere in sight until Ginni gets out of the truck to discover she has turned the trailer into a road grader by dragging the upright horizontally down the washboard dirt road. Ginni stops laughing. She is 3.6 miles into a 53 mile round trip on the corrugated thoroughfare. This new trailer configuration poses some technical difficulties for carrying kayaks back to Loreto, but there is time to figure that out. She straps the stantion flat to the frame of the trailer with more NRS straps, and drives on. She considers naming the trailer Humpty Dumpty, since it has just left a welder’s shop for the 3rd time in a year.

Mile 265 9:00am. First visual connection with Punta Coyote. Gigantic splashing out towards Isla Espiritu Santo of a breaching humpback whale. It repeats several times.

Mile 272 9:45am. Ginni arrives at Punta Coyote where there is a group of happy Dutch kayakers, but no welders. No matter. A little rearranging, more straps, and the trailer serves for 2 kayaks. The other 5 fit on the truck.

The kayakers pack up, help load the kayaks, have lunch, and the taxi arrives at noon. Ginni and the kayakers part ways knowing that the taxi can get the kayakers to the hotel much faster than the trailer is going to be moving back down this road. The kayakers thoughtfully leave some beer in the cooler as consolation in case the mechanical situation should worsen.

Mile 272 12:15pm. Ginni leaves Punta Coyote right behind the van. After the first curve, she never sees it again, nor even its dust.

Mile 283 1:10pm. Break for strap adjustments and a cold beer for the road. Why not? 10mph with nothing out here to hit except bumps, which are unavoidable, and still 2 hours before the highway. Ginni begins writing scenic descriptions and describing colors in the mileage log. “stripes of peach, jade, mahogany, brick. Sphinxes, melting pyramids, tan running into green.”

Cacti pass slowly. Distant colorful mountains hardly pass at all.

Eventually she writes,” I like being here driving mellow through the desert. No hurries. I can write whole sentences before looking to see if anyone is coming or if I’m still on the road or should bother to steer.” If one could read the handwriting through all the bumps, that’s what it might say. But it might also say “in that last herd of burros was a gray one with a cute face and long furry ears.”

Mile 296 2:14pm. There is easy road access to a sandy beach with shade huts just north of the mining pier of San Juan de la Costa. A future takeout for the kayakers? “If it’s an alternative to driving this road,” writes our heroine, “I can begin to see the scenic beauty in a mining operation.”

Mile 298.5 2:25pm Pavement! 3:00pm Highway 1! Now, just 5 more hours to Loreto.

Life: it’s not always the adventure you planned on, but it’s always an adventure!

The grace of learning

Like kayaking, martial art has a lot of great life lessons hidden in it.

The forward stroke and some basic martial art moves look simple. You can make one happen on your first try. To do them well, in a way that won’t hurt you in the long run, in a way that aligns bones and forces and realizes your full potential of power, takes time to master, and in the end there is no end; you can refine and improve as long as you’re willing.

I took a brief introduction to a movement-meditation art and found the exercises quite relaxing. But I also got a lot more out of the experience than just the exercises: some professional perspective as a coach, and some personal insight.

Learning takes humility.

Learning takes patience.

Learning can be uncomfortable.

To teach well you must learn from your student. It’s an interaction—observe, listen, process. Demonstration and talking are a small part of teaching.

To a learner, it is difficult to assimilate many corrections at once. Some can, but it’s generally better to give 1 or 2, and then encouragement and practice.

Stop your student immediately if something they’re doing is going in the wrong direction. Better to change the exercise than allow damaging practice.

Tradition in teaching, and even bureaucracy has its reasons, but there is also a place for exceptions, and experimenting.

Power comes from alignment. It’s more about awareness than muscle.

Life is an experience of the spirit. The body is just a vehicle for the trip and a tool for learning awareness.