Book Report


The Vacation From Hell. By R. Wm. Gray. Kindle edition. 1.99. Estimated 64 pages.

Perhaps the truest statement in this E- book is this; “Baja Mexico....either you love it or you don’t”. This is a saga of two couples who have never been to Baja, and who with great enthusiasm, and more planning than you can imagine, decide to give it a shot, going to a campground south of Mulege. Of course, nothing happens as planned, and the vacation is a disaster, and friendships are frayed forever. The author says the moral of this book is, “Don’t take friends that you intend to keep to Baja Mexico .” 

His account reads like a diary of frustration and venting. I would disagree with this view, but do realize that a planned six weeks camping together in a strange country would be a lesson in tolerance and patience.

Gray acknowledges that names are changed, and events and problems are exaggerated and sometimes outright lies. This does not take away from the story told. Gray renames the couple who makes the planned vacation a disaster Dahlia and Harvey, who happen to be their closest neighbors in California. The author gives us a not so subtle hint of what’s to come with another quote, “the morning Dahlia stuck her head out of the trailer and said, “Where the hell did all these Mexicans come from?” I thought, Houston, we have a problem.” The hapless couple joins  the other two couples in a caravan of trailers heading south on highway 1, and they bring along two small dogs. Gray renames Dahlia and her two snorting dogs, “Winnie, Minnnie, and Whiney.”

 Right from the start the trip begins to fall apart, and the author’s credo becomes “Why didn’t he listen?” Everyone else is making mistakes that are ruining this long planned for vacation, and we read of bad roads, snorkeling dogs, jellyfish bites, and plugged up black tanks.

 While I was recuperating from a bum leg, and without access to the books in my Loreto book store El Caballo Blanco, I ordered this short e-book. It’s a quick read, and I Googled the author and other books and reviews. The author lives in Mulege, has other e-books, as well as some others about the Baja. The account I read, according to the author, happened about 20 years ago. In the book, Gray calls it fiction, but the Amazon review claims it is non-fiction. The only review there gives the book three out of five stars. That reviewer says the book is disorganized but fun to read.  He’s correct in pointing out that more is written (pages and pages), about the preparations than about what happened on the trip.

The cover is a view of a winding road, with a vista of the Sea (of Cortez?). The book is a fast read, and some formatting issues and misspelled words don’t distract. I enjoyed the narrative. About the journey down Highway 1, past all of the cities and villages that are now familiar, and helps me remember my first trip south. Reading the saga of mistakes and problems, and misperceptions about Mexico was entertaining, but I wished the author had added some descriptions of the beautiful landscape; rocks, sea, plants, and all that’s unique about our Baja. Mulege, and the area south of the village are unbelievably beautiful, and a few observations about that camping area, would have balanced the descriptions nicely.