Encircling the Sea of Cortez...

The Peace of
Forty Days

(La Paz de Cuarentas Dias)

By Stik Mann


On January 12, 1999, three hundred and fifty-three days before the probable collapse of civilization, I left my family and comfortable home in Spokane, Washington to begin, with much reluctance, a journey into Mexico, with the intention of encircling, via land and ship, the great Sea of Cortez.

I have an loose itinerary: I plan to take Greyhound from Spokane to Yuma, Arizona, where my mother spends the winter. I'll spend a week or so there, then make my way down the Baja Peninsula, traveling by the ill-fabled Mexican bus to La Paz, near the southern tip. My plan is to stay there forty days and write a book, "The Peace of Forty Days." From there I'll take a twenty hour voyage by ferry across the sea to Mazatlan, then work my way back up the mainland to Yuma.

Why I set out upon this adventure is unclear to me; perhaps the answer will be revealed in the writing of this journal. As for now, I know only one thing: it is somehow connected to my need to write something from the heart, something uncompremising, something devastatingly honest. This will not be easy, as I will soon explain.

I am forty-three years old. I was married once, when I was very young; it lasted only a few years. I have two children from that marriage. My daughter is twenty-one years old, staying at my apartment with her one year old son, while I am away. My son, twenty-three, has a three year old daughter. I love them all dearly. My daughter was raised by her mother. I raised my son by myself from the time he was two years old.

I have had many jobs: underground miner, factory miller, truck driver. I have worked in country sawmills and I have managed businesses. I am trained as a journalist and worked a few years in that trade, mostly with a small-circulation, "alternative" magazine, which I and a group of friends started on a whim. That was more than six years ago. I have written little since. For the last six years I have worked as a cook in a buffet-style restaurant, a job which I enjoy very much, though the pay is minimal.

This being an attempt at an honest exposition, I feel compelled to offer the following confessions: First and most importantly, I am an atrocious liar, as many of my friends would readily testify. This undoubtedly will be a negative factor in accomplishing my goal. How I deal with this will be revealed. Furthermore, I smoke, I drink, I occasionally use illegal drugs. I covet my neighbor's goods and I lust after his wife. Some say that I am a blasphemer. Some say that I am a murderer, as well.

Still, most people who know me seem to think I'm a decent-enough guy.

It is 10:29 a.m. A chilly mix of snow and rain fall from the sky. It is 32 degrees farenheit. Greyhound bus, number 2602, is pulling out of the Spokane Intermodal Facility. No smoking, please. No intoxicants of any kind. Please do not speak to driver while coach is in motion.

Welcome aboard.

These are the logs of my journey.

Coming Jan. 15 - Chapter One

"The First Forty Hours of
The Peace of Forty Days"