San Felipe, Baja, Mexico

It was about two years ago during the Shrimp Festival. My husband and I decided to have the chicken dinner at El Dorado's Thursday night barbecue. It was just about dusk and we were returning home. We turned right onto Saltidos Road and saw a military-type humbie vehicle flipped over on the side of the road, in the ditch. Suddenly a guy in uniform ran up to me --I happened to be driving that day --and he points his rifle at me and tells me to stop. Of course I stopped and my husband got out of the car to investigate the accident.

I was sitting there, not knowing what was going on, watching my husband wade into all this confusion --I think it's a male thing --and there were injured soldiers laying about. My husband comes back, opens the passenger door and pushes the seat forward. I see two soldiers carrying someone and they place him on the back seat behind me. I thought the guy was passed out, maybe seriously hurt. Two guys get in the back with him and then a few more crowd into the front with me. I'm driving a small Mustang, so you can image.

FederalNow the soldiers start shouting, "Vamanos! Vamanos!" My husband tells me to take them to the Red Cross. So I drove up Saltidos Road to turn around and I guess they got the wrong idea and began hollering at me. Anyway, I manage to turn around, went to the highway and turned right.

By now it's pretty dark outside. We only went a short distance when they shouted at me to stop. I pull over and see that one of the guys in the front seat is taking his clothes off. I'm thinking to myself, What the hell is this? Am I in for a gang-bang or something? I have no idea what to do at this point.

Two of them get out. The soldiers in the back seat start hollering at the ones who got out and they have this heated discussion. Finally everyone gets out except one person and the guy laying down in the back seat. He shouts at me, "Go! Go!" So I pull out and we're back on the highway leaving behind the ones who decided to go AWOL.

That year theShrimp Festival was held at the soccer field. When we got into town there were all those cars there and the police. Here's this soldier in my car yelling "Andele! Andele!" I kept asking him if he wanted to go to the Red Cross. But when we pass the soccer field the guy tells me to turn left. I did what he said and we drove past several houses. We keep going until there are no more lights and he tells me to stop the car. Then he got out and said he would be back in a minute. "Uno momento," he said through the window.

I'm looking in the rear-view mirror, it's pitch black, and I'm watching this guy in uniform, which is dark green, fade into the night. And I think to myself, OK, I've got this hurt guy in my back seat of my car --I'm an American woman --I don't have my papers with me --I don't speak Spanish --and I don't know what to do. So I decided to see what was wrong with the guy in the back.

I get out of the car and the dome light goes on. I turn and see this man sprawled on the back seat, tongue hanging out and his eyes are open. He is dead.

I was pissed. I got back in the car, backed up and started honking the horn. There's no one around. I keep honking until finally a man comes out to his front yard and me and my Spanish, which was horrible, --I try to ask him if there's a soldier in his house. And of course there wasn't.

I turned the car around and drove like a bat-out-of-hell back to where I picked him up, back to Saltido Road. Well, by the time I got back, there was the military, there was the police, there was an ambulance, there were neighbors of mine, there was my husband there.

I drove up and I was so frightened, so angry, my whole body was shaking. I was scared. And I couldn't get my car door open, I was shaking so bad. So someone comes and gets me and I step out and there was my husband and I said, "Get this goddamn dead man outta my car! And I want to home!"

He said we couldn't move him until some other offical comes. At that point some neighbors of mine walk over and they offer to take me home. I said yes.

They took me home and there were a couple of reasons why that was good at the time. It gave me my first opportunity to explain what had happened. They both wanted to know what happened.

When we get to my place I turn on the heaters. It was a cool night plus when I get really frightened, I get very cold. Then I put on my heaviest pajamas and I crawl into bed. I sat there reflecting on what happened and then a friend of mine came over and she knocks on the door. She came in and said, "I heard all about it." So I tell her the whole thing.

About eleven or twelve at night my husband comes into the bedroom and he said he was getting ready to meet with the head of the police or somebody and they're going to talk about this. Finally, about two in the morning, they come. Another friend of ours, who's incredibly fluent in Spanish, met them.

I felt very vulnerable at that point. I didn't want to go anywhere. I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't want to do anything.

The next day, about five o'clock, near dusk, I'm out watering my palm trees. I'm still real cold and vulnerable and suddenly one of those military humbies pulls up into my yard, filled with soldiers. At that point I've pretty much lost my voice and I had to go get my husband. I was freaked out.

What they wanted was --their head attorney was with them --they wanted a deposition. So we went to our friend's house --the one who spoke the fluent Spanish --and four of us sat at a table and they got their deposition.

When I got my car back there was evidence that there had been people in there --you know, that were hurt. And the guy that took off his uniform. They all went AWOL. The lawyer said if they were found they would go to prison.

I had dinner with a neighbor who said she heard a vehcile that night roaring up Saltido Road and she said she heard the crash. So evidently they were going much faster than they should have been on that road.

I must say that the whole incident has tainted my and to this day --I'm sorry, but I won't pick anybody up on the road. Especially if they point a gun at me!