Week On Beaches Of Baja Coast
March 31, 2016
is one of the workers who helped us build our house in Baja
California, Mexico. His English is about as good as our
Spanish, and that is the way we have formed a relationship.
Each year there is maintenance which must be done after
the storm season, and Gilberto is one of the workers we
hire to do the work. We do not carry hurricane insurance
because if the hurricane is really bad, the insurance company
doesn’t pay off, it just goes out of business.
Besides, labor is cheap, and we can hire a man like Gilberto
to do the repair for $500 to $1,000 and this is the way
they make a living.
Giberto has no saving account and instead he will buy a
pickup and fix it up. Then he will buy a Panga (Mexican
fishing boat) and set it up for giving rides during the
Holy Week. If he runs out of money, which he always does,
then he will sell the boat and then the pickup.
Because of our heart surgery, we did not make it to Mexico
until early December. By the time we arrived Gilberto and
his family were in dire need. He had sold his pickup and
boat and needed every dime just to pay for providing for
We do not underpay Gilberto. He earns $10 an hour and that
is considered better than average pay in our area. In return
he does fairly good carpentry work and knows where to find
the cheapest material.
This year we built an addition onto our house, so there
was plenty of work for Gilberto once we arrived. By mid
January, he had purchased a pickup, and by February he found
a Panga which needed some TLC.
Gilberto’s grandfather had been a fisherman years
ago when fishing was a way of life for many Mexicans in
this area. The Chinese long liners came up into the Sea
of Cortez and ruined much of the fishing industry. However,
something many Mexican men love is their Panga.
Each pay period Gilberto would mention how much of his pay
he was putting toward his Panga project. He needed a trailer
and he needed a canopy for the boat so he could shade the
tourists which he would be taking out during Holy Week.
Literally thousands of Mexicans come to the beaches of Baja
Mexico during Holy Week and camp along the shoreline. The
shorelines belong to all Mexicans, unlike the United States
where many beaches are owned exclusively by one or another
The boat project was a major topic of conversation each
day at work. Gilberto found an old trailer, then he needed
wheels and tires. He swapped us for an old trailer hitch
which he fixed, and he had our welder fix a frame for his
canopy which was covered with a Sunbrella.
When Holy Week was just one week off, he brought the boat
and trailer around for us to see. It was a beautiful repair
job; newly painted in blue and white.
He mentioned that during Holy Week he would only be able
to work two hours a day because the rest of the time he
would be taking tourists out in his boat. He was already
counting the money he would make for each family who used
“I’ll make 500 pesos per family for one hour
ride,” said Gilberto. That would be about $30 US,
and in an eight-hour day, four times as much as he could
make as a carpenter.
The opening day of Holy Week, Gilberto arrived for work
early and he needed our welder to do one last job. He needed
to install a rubber roller on the trailer so the boat could
be launched from the beach.
Finally Gilberto was good to go. He left the job after two
hours with a big smile on his face, however, to our surprise
he returned an hour later.
“What happened?” We asked.
“I couldn’t get my motor started,” he
said sounding very dejected.
He spent the whole day trying to get it repaired, however
with no success.
On Good Friday he showed up at the job site looking even
Now Gilberto is not one to beg, but he did ask if anyone
could buy the gas which he intended to use on his Panga.
Alas … there would be no boat rides for Gilberto this