Now get this straight once and for all," Vi said through tightly clenched teeth. "I'm not going to any place that has tarantulas and spiders and scorpions, and that's final."
Perhaps I should explain. You see. my wife and I like to take an occasional impulsive vacation, just jump in the car and head out, usually toward someplace where she can catch sunlight and I can catch fish and we can both relax. This time we were 500 miles south of the border; we had been on the road for four days, the car's air conditioner had broken down, and we were no closer to a satisfactory vacation spot than when we started. We had checked out a luxury spa near Guaymas, but I bad vetoed the place as too gaudy and un-Mexican. Vi agreed, and we had continued southward.
Lunching at the Santa Anita Hotel in Los Mochis, I had been browsing through various publications that might offer a solution to the problem when my eye was taken by this passage in Norman Ford's Fabulous Mexico:
Topolobampo, Sin. A friendly, unspoiled fishing village on a bay 12 miles from Los Mochis. Fishing and skin-diving are excellent—a splendid escapist retreat. Best hotel buys: Yacht Motel. Spotless rooms, good food.
"Sweetie!" I said. "Look at this. It's perfect. And it's 12 miles away!"
I handed her the book, and of course right away she wanted to know what "Sin" meant. "It means Sinaloa," I explained. 'That's the state we're in."
"Well, if it's only 12 miles from here." my wife said, "they should know all about it in this hotel."
"Good thinking," I said, and in between the camarones and ensalada I stepped into the lobby and up to a counter where an obliging saleslady quickly sold me a dusty book called Southwestern Utopia by Thomas A. Robertson. "Thees weel tell you all about Topolobampo," the kindly lady said.
That is where the trouble started. The book had nothing but praise for Topolobampo, but it included a letter from an early visitor who wrote: "...The scorpions, when they sting, which is rare, are harmless and hardly painful: the tarantula has not yet bitten: the spider, such as bites in the States, has bitten, but the same right arm that received the bite is able to write these statements...." When Vi saw that passage, Topolobampo was out.
"Look," I said, "this letter was written in 1887. They don't have scorpions and tarantulas down here anymore. They put a bounty on them, eliminated them completely."