CANDACE STEVENS BOEHM
THE BAJA POST/GUEST WRITER
“The only way to get experience, is to get in the dust.” I knew what he meant when he said it. I knew what it meant to him. He was getting ready to start the Baja 250 race. He and his son were setting off on an over 4 hour race through the desert. It was about racing and about the possibility of a win. It was about becoming a better racer and beating their previous time. It was knowing that the only way to get better at something is to do it. But I knew it was about more than that. We had just talked about what it meant to him. What he didn’t know, was how his words impacted me. What he didn’t know, was what his words meant to me.
I talked with Marco Hernandez as he along with his son and team sat waiting for their turn to start the race. I watched as last minute checks were completed on the truck, electrolyte drinks were consumed, and good-natured banter was exchanged between competitors. I took note of the blood type posted by each racers name just in case (Crazy!) and the details that made each vehicle unique. Marco explained the lucky rabbit’s foot hanging from the rearview mirror was a token from a farm he had visited, the skull and crossbones made from tools was a hand crafted gift given to them, and the saying and decals were all things that described the “vibe” of he, his son, and everyone who was part of his team.
Marco then went on to talk to me about the real reason these races were so important to him. It wasn’t winning. It wasn’t glory. It was family. It was his son. Erik Hernandez races with his Dad. Racing was something that even as an adult with his own family, Erik still does with his Dad. Erik talked about his Dad’s prerace rituals and how he knew what his Dad was thinking and how he would react. Marco talked about how from a young age, racing was something he and his son had connected over and how it was so important to him never to lose that connection. Neither of them said it, but I’m confident in saying when they got in the dust that day it was so much more about the time spent together as father and son than about any outcome that could have come from that race.
As I watched them start the race that day in a cloud of dust, I thought about his words. Get in the dust. I thought about what those words meant to me. I had just spent 10 days making the Southern Baja circle with my 68 year-old parents and my 3 teenage sons. My goal was to give them experiences they had never had, show them new places and cultures, and allow them to meet and interact with people different than themselves. My parents snorkeled for the first time. They tried ceviche on the beaches of Espirutu Island. They braved the waves on Cerritos Beach. They experienced. We experienced.
We bonded. Those memories. That laughter. It can’t be taken away. It’s ours forever. Dancing with my parents and son in the streets of Cabo. Watching my boys watch their Grandfather become the “party animal” on the must-do Cabo booze cruise. Watching them get embarrassed when he attempted to dirty dance with Grandma was even better! Swimming, just us, in a bay in the Sea of Cortez with turquoise waters and fish and starfish and rays. Sitting in hammocks watching the sunset paint the Baja sky. That’s it. That’s life. That’s what it’s all about. That’s the experience.
And the dust. Me burying my van in the sand up to the bumper as we tried to reach Playa Saltito. Our condo that had no water or showers or toilets and their mother’s ongoing battle with the owners – yes, choice words were used! My driving in La Paz – one-way traffic and stops signs and no blinkers and more choice words! Their were times of fatigue and irritation and annoyances and all the crap that goes into a family being together for 10 days. We learned. We grew. We did it together. We experienced life.
So I agree. The only way to get experience is to get in the dust. My life is an experience. My life won’t happen if I don’t make it happen. I need to keep creating experiences. I need to keep trying new things. I need to keep exploring new places. I need to keep meeting new people. I need to keep taking risks. I must always remember it’s about people. Family. Friends. Acquaintances. Strangers. It’s about sharing and laughing and talking and having fun and bonding and making memories. I can’t be afraid of a little dust. Chances can be scary. Experiences can be difficult. People can be annoying. Communication can be frustrating. Not everything will work out and that’s okay. Life isn’t perfect, but I believe it can be pretty damn good.
So I say, here’s to experiences and living and getting in the dust!