Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Siphon Man

Traveling through the Australian Outback reminds me of an excerpt from my brother's book Seven Months Deep (still available, by the way)

"My brother Brian and I once rented a car in San Diego for a trip down the beautiful peninsula of Baja California, Mexico. Although well traveled in the rest of the country, at the time neither of us knew anything about the peninsula, which contributed to our excitement. As we drove southbound on the highway through the dessert, we realized one thing: there were hardly any gas stations. We passed one station when our tank was over a quarter full, but then continued to drive a hundred miles without passing another. Soon we were approaching an empty tank and, according our rudimentary map, it appeared that the next town, Catavina, was about forty miles away. Instead of turning around and trying to make it back a hundred miles, we decided continue trekking south and hoped that Catavina would have fuel. Due to the conditions of the road and its meandering path through the mountains (not clearly evident on our map), it took us about an hour and a half to travel those forty miles and we rolled in to Catavina on fumes. It turned out that the town wasn't a town at all, just a single hotel and a gas station. It also turned out that the gas station hadn't been a functioning gas station in many, many years. We were screwed.

"Siphon Man saved our lives, or at least our vacation. He was a local entrepreneur that we accurately dubbed "Siphon Man" who had decided to capitalize on the "unprepared Gringo tourist" market. He would drive his pickup to a nearby gas station and fill huge metal barrels of fuel to carry up and down the highway looking for situations like ours. Hours after helplessly waiting for a miracle in Catavina, he came down the road and used a homemade siphon hose to fill our tank, for a hefty fee. At over three times the market cost it was the most expensive gas in the world, and was probably mixed with a bit of water and sand to stretch his buck, but it was exactly what we needed. The best entrepreneurs find a need to satisfy."

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