We were on survey in Pinal County Arizona, the county north of Tucson’s Pima County, to evaluate a number of sites for possible preservation and protection.
We traveled a long paved road that led us to a dirt road.
Horrors! There was a sign at the fenced entry to the dirt road:
VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED,
Boy! This sign meant the owner really meant business! We had no permission from the landowner to cross the land.
I pulled off to the side of the road.
A small truck approached and started to enter through the open fence gate.
I flagged it down.
I walked to the truck and said to the driver, who was a wizened Mexican man, “May we cross this land to get to the pumping station at the aqueduct?”
He said, “No Hable Espanola?”
I understood this to be - don’t you speak Spanish?
I don’t! “No Hable Espanola,” I said to him. This and “respiree profundo” (breathe deeply) is the extent of my Spanish speaking!
One of the crewmembers came to my rescue.
He spoke in broken, haltering Spanish and the driver of the truck responded - I heard “publico-no problemo. Si”
Yea! We could cross the land! As I said I can understand Spanish! (yeah sure!)
As we started to drive onto the dirt road, my rescuer said, "If we get stopped by others we say", ‘Juan McDuff, Spanish speaking only, Georgia license plate, has given us permission to cross this private land.’
Only in Arizona!