Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday fauna, and tenuously associated story.

Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchelli)

This small rattlesnake was found in an arroyo west of Bahía de los Ángeles, Baja California, at 28 58 24.94 N, 113 36 10.27 W. It was curled beside a footpath, awaiting a rodent that did not appear. What appeared was a pair of metal tongs and a cloth bag.

The Mitchell’s or Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchelli) is found in the southwestern US and northern Mexico. There are five recognized subspecies. This one is C. m. pyrrhus, the Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake.

We stayed in the arroyo, finding mostly geckos (Coleonyx and Phyllodactylus), until after dark. We drove to the Bahia and parked at the beach, which was deserted. After a typically meagre supper –of what I don’t recall—we called it a night and spread our sleeping bags on the sand. I took off my jeans and jacket and rolled them into a makeshift pillow, which I tucked beneath the head of my sleeping bag.

During the night, the wind picked up, a strong offshore wind pouring down the steep, barren hills that back the beach. Sand was blowing in my face, and into my sleeping bag. There was no light anywhere. There was wind and sand and darkness, that was all. I didn’t know where the parking lot was, or where my colleagues were. In my sleeping bag, I wormed my way down the beach, toward the water, hoping for a log, some sort of windbreak. Finally, I bonked into something. An overturned rowboat. Perfect.

A few hours later the sun bouncing off the Sea of Cortez woke me up. So did human voices. Two Mexican gentlemen were sitting on their overturned rowboat, wondering how an unkempt foreigner had come to be nestled up against it.

“Buenos días,” I said, looking up.

“Buenos días,” they said, looking down.

I reached under the head of my sleeping bag. Where the heck was my jacket? More importantly, where the heck were my pants? I looked up the beach. No pants. They had probably blown into the ocean. My colleagues were in the far distance, as was the parking lot.

Dilemma: Pretend to go back to sleep and wait for Mexican gentlemen to go away, or crawl from sleeping bag and walk away pantsless?

I tried option A, but the gentlemen seemed quite happy to remain seated on their boat.

When you're a foreigner, you're expected to be eccentric. Senor No-pants bundled up his sleeping bag, and, head held high, moseyed back up the beach.


KaHolly said...

And then?

Anonymous said...

You know, I've been reading Gary Nabhan's book about the ethnobiology of reptiles on the Sea of Cortez, but it doesn't contain anywhere near as much pantslessness as this one small anecdote.

Hugh said...


I find this quite surprising, as I believe that pantslessness is a dominant theme in the ethnobiology of reptiles on the Sea of Cortez. I must find Gary's book, and write a rebuttal.