The ATV Ride
The place was beautiful. The food was tasty and plentiful. But the beaches were rocky with dangerous undercurrents. And the unheated pools were uncomfortable. We spent much of our time riding the bicycles supplied by the hotel, sightseeing and looking for other local amusements.
Barbara and I had never ridden an ATV, but had seen a video of a large group of senior citizens riding them along a flat beach. It looked like fun.
The bus from the ATV place got to our hotel at 2 o’clock. I was surprised we were the only passengers. The man who took our money spoke little English but confirmed we were registered for the beach ride that was to leave in twenty minutes. Since this was our very first ATV ride we spent that time learning, on our own, how to give gas and break. We decided to ride together on one machine, which in retrospect, given the extra weight, did, along with my inexperience, slow us down considerably. Getting the hang of driving one of those monsters takes some practice, particularly in relation to sensing how much gas to let out in different situations, to avoid stalling. For example, at one point during practice, I let out too much gas while simultaneously breaking. We careened into a bush,
stalling the vehicle, I lost my watch and got some minor scratches. Nervously and definitely less self assured than when we started, I slowly made my way to where I was told the rest of our group was getting ready to start.
Seven ATV’s, with drivers in their twenties, greeted us with a wave and a very loud flying start to what seemed to be a race. Although startled by the scene, I was reassured by the flat treeless terrain we were on. Moving along slowly, I remember thinking, calling this a beach ride made no sense since we were nowhere near a beach. Then, to my shock and surprise, I saw in the distance a very high mountain my fellow riders were ascending. The trail up was narrow with no barricade along the side, making it clear that any mistake could send us off into space and down to our deaths. As a youngster I would watch, in horror, as my Dad, a house painter, would fearlessly swing from high terrace to terrace. So, beside the handicaps I’ve already mentioned, I am afraid of heights.
With my heart beating fast and my muscles strained and tight from fear, I came off that mountain otherwise unscathed but with the realization that I would have to do it again on the way back. The rest of the trip was a flat ride to the beach, where we found out one good thing and one bad thing. The ride back would be a long trip in the dark but we would be covering new ground that didn’t include the mountain. It was 5 o’clock when we arrived at the beach and we would not be leaving until sunset, which was not until seven. The ride we were on was called the “Sunset Beach Ride” not “The Beach Ride”, the ride we were expecting. While the rest of the group was playing in the ocean waves, Barbara was practicing her riding skills. I, was walking around, anxiously, awaiting the start back. Our group leader was a young Mexican boy who spoke no English and seemed to be more interested in having fun with his age mates than offering any firm leadership guidance. With Barbara holding me around the waist we started back to what, I was told, would be a three hour ride through the desert. Thinking that the ride would be flat, my only concern was, given the accelerated speed of my comrades, getting lost in the dark. To my further dismay, soon after starting, I ran into the first sand dune. A depression in the desert sand that required giving gas, precisely when the vehicle was emerging, to avoid stalling.
It was about two hours into our ride back and I had, long since, lost sight of our guide and the group. But because I had successfully managed many dunes by that time, I was starting to relax. Immediately after Barbara told me we had passed what looked to her looked like a Rattler, it happened. We went into a particularly deep depression. As I powered up my machine to complete our emergence, we stalled. This stopped the ATV at the crest of the hill which was pointed straight up in the air. I slid on top of Barbara and put my hands up in an attempt to deflect the tonnage that was about to descend and annihilate us.
Miracle of miracles, it just stayed up. We scampered off as its wheels stopped spinning. It looked like a magnificent piece of sculpture standing up in the desert night. With thoughts of the Rattler sighting, I, in a stupor like state, started yelling into the empty desert for help. In what felt like the preverbal eternity, our guide returned to help me straighten the ATV. With his gestured promise to stay close for the rest of the trip we traveled home. The bus ride back to our hotel was a thankful, endorphin soaked, joyful high, which took three strong drinks to quiet. That night we slept in a warm, tight embrace known only to happy reunited lovers.
”Angels Or Luck”
By the laws of science we should have died but we didn’t.
We were very lucky
But that sounds like a cop out
An un explanatory explanation
Were we being helped by unseen forces ?
A cherub or seraph
I don’t believe in God but the idea of a spiritual guardian resonates
I sometimes even wear an angel pin made of gold
Does luck or the spiritual advocate originate within who we are ?
Or does it exist outside of us.
Is it all just about beating the odds
Or is it about a justice that prevails in the universe
But then how do you explain the Holocaust
Or the millions of young men who are killed in senseless wars
I don’t know, I guess we were just lucky