It started with a wisp, a tug at the canvas. By morning it was bumping us around like a pinball on the road. Now it’s kept us holed up in Bahia San Luis Gonzaga, as beautiful a place as you could hope to be holed up in. It is not El Norte,the usual winter wind which starts up in the morning and windsurfers and kiteboarders down the coast. This is el Oeste—Pacific-borne—rolling over the mountains and carrying the desert with it. Sand crawls into bedding and dishes and turns hair grey. Trees don’t slow it; it’s ceaseless, a torrent the shrimp boats must hide from on the south side of the Peninsula.
El Oeste comes with blue skies, and elongated clouds during the day and a carpet of stars at night. It lags at sunset but renews its force throughout the night. It is insidiously irritating, as if something had crawled under the skin and couldn’t be found. From a picture, it wouldn’t appear ferocious, but on the ground it buffets our metal box enough to make us think we might tip over. We drive through sheets of sand to take refuge behind the nearest vacant home. It’s strong enough to make us think of los huracanes—the hurricanes which ream into the Baja Peninsula during many Septembers. We are grateful for our shelter. We are grateful el viento oeste reminds us of the larger forces shaping our world. The wind roars on as we turn to sleep.