Sometimes when you travel, and you’re far from civilization, and your hormones are getting adjusted to so many changes, if all the conditions are right, it might look like there may be another life brewing inside of you.
Just south of Ensenada, there’s a magnificent river delta over thermal waters. Here, perched atop a hill, surrounded by arid desert, lies a hand-built home and its carefully manicured grounds. The owner calls it “El Bosque Encantado,” The Enchanted Forest, and this is where we found ourselves for a week, with our new friend Alex, off the grid.
We met Alex at the Save The Waves Film Festival a couple weeks before and were immediately lured in by his story. Alex had biked–the pedal kind–all the way from Wisconsin, and now found himself house sitting an off-grid, wanna-be-eco-village atop a hill overlooking civilization, all by himself.
Of course, there was no question about it, we paid him a visit. It was scary taking Big Blu up the winding dirt road flanked by a steep drop around the bends, but she made it. She’s a trooper.
At the top we were greeted by a modest home complex with smooth curves. Unlike the rest of the city below, it felt like this place had been cut from the same stone as its environment and still beat from the same heart.
Down below, in the full heat of the desert sun, cars zoomed by, everything moved at machine pace. At night we saw the twinkling lights of the city sprawled before us, illuminating the city’s chaos and mechanical life. Here life moved slower.
It was a nice rest, an escape from what had been for us a busy stretch of travel through the very populated southern California coast, a welcome breath of fresh air.
Alex was calm and fascinated by life, paying close attention to the smells of the different herbs, wild and planted, that grew on the land and impregnated the dusty air.
The whole house had been designed so life was lived outside. The sink and “outhouse” both had the best views I’ve seen in a while. It made ordinary life free and almost grandiose. Naturally we spent most of our time outside. We cooked by fire.
We ate dishes mostly composed of veggies we got from the local fruit stand at the base of the hill, which we comvined in a kettle with some of the herbs and spices we grabbed from the bushes on our way to the fire. Alex always had a dreamy smile on his face. He always took great pleasure in eating the food we all made. He never had a bad thing to say about anything.
This is where we were while I patiently awaited my period. It usual comes like clockwork, plus or minus a couple of days, so I had my Diva Cup ready to go. I was now a few days late, a few more than the usual variation.
Every day the moon came over the hills, it came up fuller, and every day I was reminded my period was a day later. We had discussed having a child. We both want one, but we also had both decided it was too early. Traveling had been challenging already, it didn’t need another challenge.
I couldn’t be pregnant. It just wasn’t possible. We’re very careful. I went on with life and waited patiently, keeping my worries to myself.
During the day the sun blazed over the land, bringing with it warm thermal breezes. It burnt the brush and the sage fumed its invisible odors all around us. We watched the tide come in and out from the delta, like clockwork. We based our lack of schedules around it.
Like a timepiece on the wall, we would know what time it was when we glanced in its direction. If we saw slender rivers snaking through the mud we knew it was a certain time. If islets were disappearing, smothered by the incoming tide, It was another time.
All day the moths came out to pollinate, They fluttered around us like exotic butterflies and added to the magic of our surroundings. Until that point, I only knew moths to come out at night. All of it just added to my altered sense of time. Time that ticked reminding me every minute that came by that I might be pregnant.
This is where we were when, during a sunfilled mid-afternoon yoga session, inspired by a some extra delicious cookies, bathed in warm desert air, atop the curved roof of the complex, something inside me whispered loud enough for me to hear.
There’s a fifty percent chance you’re pregnant right this moment
It had whispered, but I heard it loud and clear. Of course, I was either pregnant or I wasn’t, but I knew that isn’t what it had meant. “It’s your choice.” is what was suggested. “You can be, or you can not be”
I broke the news to Gabriel. We were nowhere close to a pharmacy with a test, and so we couldn’t be sure.
In all my years in university, the idea that perplexed me the most was Schrodinger’s cat. It didn’t fit with science in my mind. Either the cat is or isn’t alive. It isn’t both. Observing it makes no difference.
A decision wouldn’t be made until I peed on that stick and one or two pink lines showed up.
What would we do if I were? For the three days we were to remain at The Enchanted Forest we contemplated the option of traveling with a child, at first in my belly, and then in the van with us. Where would we have it? Could we do it? How much more would it cost? Was it responsible? Mostly: Were we ready?
We had been told many times before–but most notably and recently by my good friend Yassin during our stay in Montreal–that you’ll never be ready. Gabriel agreed. We’d figure it out.
And so we were pregnant. We were somewhat nervous, and somewhat excited, as I’m sure most new parents are. I couldn’t wait to get to the pharmacy. I couldn’t bear the limbo. One way or another I had to know, what was the rest of my life going to look like.
We came off our mountain and drove back into the bustling, dusty streets of Ensenada, where, one dateless Sunday morning we found an open pharmacy, and then a public bathroom.
I wasn’t pregnant.