The first week in San Carlos flew by in a sort of blur. This place is full of memories for me, even with the obvious changes. I had driven down numerous times in my camper van, and also arrived north through the Sea of Cortez at the end of a long sailing trip. Years ago I even took the overnight bus from here all the way to San Diego. I was comfortable at my campsite and every day was busy, exploring the city, wandering on the beach, meeting new friends, and trying hard to find my old friend Healy’s house.
But… finally I found it!
Healy was a retired veterinarian from Iowa, and reportedly he was the first gringo who bought and lived in the “Ranchitos” area, where he stayed for decades, until his health failed. I visited him in San Carlos over several years in the 90s, and miss him dearly since he died almost 20 years ago. He even kept all my boxes of gear for a year after I finished the sailing life and left the boat on the hard there in 1993. I traveled so often in my van to visit that he even built me a bath house out in the yard so I could have running water while I was camping. Everything has changed so much since that it took me a long time but I finally found his house, which is still owned by his son but is infrequently visited. So many great memories here!
I was pleasantly surprised several times on this trip when I met people who remember him as a sort of legend, and it was great fun to hear their old stories. All the local people used to bring their injured animals for him to heal, countless dogs and cats to spay and neuter, and usually brought him chickens, coffee, oranges or whatever they had in appreciation. One woman told me how he drove her and all the other children to Guyamas each morning so they could attend school because there was no school in the village,and no bus, and nobody else had a vehicle to take them. Another man told me that Healy was a member of the famous Merrill’s Marauders, the special ops jungle warfare unit in Indochina during World War II. They used hundreds of mules, and Healy was the veterinarian assigned to them. It was truly an honor to be his friend. In fact, I have been blessed with incredible friends throughout my life, dearly beloved people who are my true family. I can’t believe how I continue to miss those who are now gone.
When you are in San Carlos, the fear of Americans to travel in Mexico seems foolish. It is full of Americans and Canadians, many of whom have homes and live here year-round. It’s easy to see why. The Rotary Club meetings are even in English, and I was very impressed with all the work they do throughout the area. This country has always felt like home to me, and I want to spend more time here in the future.
Here is my camp at the RV Park. It was convenient but too much like a trailer court for me, and too busy when the huge motor homes started arriving from the south, on their way home to the U.S. and Canada. I enjoyed making friends with special people here, and discovering places to wander, eat, shop, and just relax.
Cheyenne seems perfectly suited to the traveling life. I’m so glad that I brought her with me, and that she is older and happy just to be with me. Each morning we take a walk together, and I’ve gotten accustomed to collecting dog poop just as she’s adjusted her body functions to my convenience. This is a good life for us. Every day I think of the snow in Alaska, the dark and the isolation, and I’ve been glad not to be there. Gradually that big house and the family history that ties me there becomes less important. My goal is to let it go completely. I suppose part of this is because I can feel myself getting older and my time is limited. I have to think hard about how to live out my years and what is really important. I know that I have to let go of the lifelong habit of mothering, of responsibility for others, and of the underlying guilt that I was raised with and absorbed so successfully.
Flash to the Past –
I have tears in my eyes as I read your comment on this page! It means so much to me that you wrote. I did meet Scott in San Carlos years ago, but I’m sorry to say I don’t remember that Healy also had a son named Healy. I have many more photos that I would be happy to share with you, and also some from last winter of Jose who lives next door and watches Healy’s house. He told me that Scott inherited the place, but doesn’t travel down often to visit. I hope to spend time in San Carlos every winter in my motor home, because after all these years it still feels like a second home to me. Thank you so much for writing! I’ll send an email asap.
You look like a fun-lovin’, happy lady. I married one. Yup. That’s my dad. I’ve drunk tequilla up on that deck. You’ve no doubt met my baby brother, Scott. And you take good photos. I looked up “Healy Burnham” on the internet, & one of the links was you. How bloomin’ nice!