Book Report

Into a Desert Place: A 3000 mile walk around the coast of Baja California. By Graham Mackintosh. Originally published in England in 1988; republished in the U.S in 1995. 312 pages.
BY: JEANNINE PEREZ

How many of us have actually acted out our wildest dreams? Graham Mackintosh did, and he continues to expand his horizons, finding even more adventures in Baja. Read this book, Graham's first, and then read his follow up books and see for yourself how very little in life is really impossible if you put your mind (and body) to it.

The book begins with Graham recalling how, on a visit from England to California, he fell instantly in love with what he saw and experienced of the Baja peninsula. Impulsively, he decided to walk around its coastline.

He went back to England, quit his job, broke his engagement and made his plans, figuring he could do the trip in about two or three months (it actually lasted about two years), on about $25 a day. He figured out that winter is the best time to wander around the Baja, and that with the many varieties of rattlesnakes here, he probably should also take along a snakebite kit or two. Then he began making other serious plans, trying to line up supplies and backers.

Graham readily admits that he had never done anything comparable in his life. His accomplishments in England included teaching English and being a couch potato who would rather sit and have a beer than walk anywhere. He also had no training, no money, and no camping equipment. Before his decision to walk along the Baja, he had always been the most “unadventurous person in the world.”

Yet, he followed his dream, walking 3,000 miles across unforgiving desert in searing heat, down rocky coastlines and across untamed mountains, carrying what supplies he had gathered together in a borrowed backpack, eating what and when he could, and painstakingly distilling just enough water each day to drink. The miracle is that he lives to tell and write about it. Graham admits that he believes he had an angel riding his shoulder. I don't think just one could quite manage this job; I’ve decided that he must have many more than just one angel surrounding him!

Describing what he researched, what he guessed, and what actually happened (including the scorpion that found its way into his shorts, his encounters with snakes, and one especially harrowing meeting with a wild burro with rabies), this book -- and his others -- makes a great life tale. Graham also talks about his total lack of previous experience in desert survival, and his accounts of what he learns from his mistakes and unexpected experiences help readers experience these journeys with him from the safety and comfort of their homes.

You can find this book (now out of print), and his three other books at El Caballo Blanco bookstore in Loreto. That would be my bookstore, come by and say hi. Or drop me a line at betojeannine@gmail.com.