Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Crayon Drawings

It's an indulgence, I know, but...

sometimes a drawing catches what a photo can't -- even an amateur drawing...

Ah!  But this last one....
Omar did this when he was about 15.
It's the best!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pix: butterflies abounding

En route home, we caught THE perfect day to watch the monarch butterflies -- in the Rosario preserve of Michoacan, a chain of low mountains of central Mexico.  They have just reached their winter destination -- by the countless millions!  The constant, soft whir of their wings overhead, the wing-laced air all around us as we walked, the sheer number of their presence all around....  They flew here from Canada and will head back in the spring...  No room here to tell their whole, amazing story.

Here is a close-up view of their spotted selves.

And in previous blogs I described "our" butterflies, long-wings who live in our jungly backyard.  Here is one group, coming to bed for the night.  As many as 17 would crowd along this dead hanging vine... the number varied.  When their wings are open, they are brilliant black with beautiful, filigreed horizontal yellow/cream stripes.

This is the other major species of butterflies that live in our jungly backyard.  Brilliant colors.  These guys are also settling in for the night.

Pix: work around our casita

This was a brilliant idea, thanks to Roverto.... and all the villagers he hired to help.  We now have a cistern right by the road, which can be gravity-filled from the town water system. Our casita is on a hill, so getting water has been....

 We've since built a roof over the cistern, and a casing for a pump which will pump the water up the hill to our house for kitchen and shower uses.

And this view gives a feeling of another project, now complete...  Sara (Guillermo's wife) sits on our porch and in the distance is our, um, Pavilion:  a shade roof with a fine cement floor.  Perhaps we'll use it for hanging more hammocks;  perhaps it will serve as an outdoor kitchen;  or perhaps it will be a place for YOU to  set up your tent when you visit.  

And here is the "Before" photo of our back porch.  This roof and its four posts were put up in a previous visit, and the place has remained a funky catch-all...  Check it out in the next photo!

(But first, notice the jungly backyard... this is where our butterflies live... see the post of butterfly photos)

Men at work!  The guy in the foreground is another of the Mayor's brothers, the youngest.  He is nicknamed Momo -- a romantic, poetic guy now married with a sweet young daughter.

And here is the finished floor, all shiny with cooling water poured on it.  Very shady, cool place.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pix: some of our many friends!

Here is Evi, standing at the mouth of the river where it once was all jungly, and where we camped that first year.  All that land has been cleared now.  Evi lives in the village, and runs a simple restaurant down here on weekends.  She saw some of my humble crayon drawings (future blog entry) and asked if I'd make a portrait of her, so here is my muse/portrait to work from.

Ah!  A village wedding.  Mind you, folks here don't seem to like to smile for the camera.  These two ARE happy!  Gerardo (very youngest brother of our Mayor) just returned from some 6 years in the States in order to find a village girl to marry. He found a lovely, sweet young woman.  Big village-wide dance, food for all, live music, dancing and games!  And they had many truckloads of sand hauled in, to pour over the dirt road in front of their home which is where all this took place!  Made for soft, clean, and smooth dancing.

Here the Mayor, Guillermo (eldest brother of the groom), dances with the bride, while his wife Sara dances with the groom.  Very joyous party.

How I love these kids.  That's Ariana, front and center (the Mayor's youngest, now 9).  She has been my shadow for lo these many years, curious about everything and wanting to be everywhere.

This is the front yard of Guillermo's home...  A comfortable, welcoming place right in the dead center of the village.  Note that the home is "wattle and daub" -- cool in summer, warm in winter, free, and easy to repair and expand.  It is one of the most ancient, world-wide construction styles.  Cement is the new style, but is it an improvement?

Mirna and Litzi -- our first friends, from back in the days of camping by the river-mouth in the rainy jungle among the biting ants and burrowing frogs and... well, our decision to find a way to LIVE here (see future entry of "pix from the early days").  It was Mirna who arranged for us to buy our casita from her brother who lives in Fresno, CA.  In this photo, little Litzi is celebrating her 9th birthday.  We arrived the year Litzi celebrated her 3rd birthday.

These guys grew up on us, too!  
Raul and Benito (Mirna's son) are the fastest runners in the village...  At a recent school event, their race against each other was a tie.  I know.  I was there.  It was a nail-biter and these boys put out all they had in them.  It was beautiful.

Here is little Luis, lookin' at you.  His t-shirt says in English, "MAJOR TROUBLE."  Look at that hammer action--a blur in this photo.  He does not speak yet (since he lost his mama), but has graceful, meaningful gestures to indicate what he wants to say.

These three are regular visitors... Luis, Damian(cito), and Gloria Estafani.  Inside, I have several shelves filled with toys for all ages of kids, and the kids just waltz in to choose what they want. Then, they put it all away again when they are ready to leave.  

A National Holiday.......
Little Pancho Villa's roaming the countryside!!!  All the kids paraded past our home in traditional costumes from days gone by, including sombreros and flowing skirts and some on horseback.  

Photos from around our humble casita...

Here you see Spiderman celebrating Obama's victory!
....and the jungly growth that greeted us on our arrival, all to be cut with machetes,
...and a view of our newly finished carport/shade-roof, which cools our home dramatically. Note that all the jungly growth has been cut back by this time.  

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sayonara, Mexico....

We plan to begin the leisurely drive north this Monday, December 1.

Sentimental reveries come to mind...

It is very sweet here in the village these days.... All goes well, with many warm connections throughout -- many sweet vignettes. One sweet thing is how we all so often call out to the pedestrian passing by. Friendly exchanges... Most of our work projects are beautifully completed and the place is abloom with flowers. On the beach, I just heard that Guero has also been attacking the surfers with his cocky attitude. He picked on a friend of ours, a strongly built ¨don´t mess with me¨ Vietnam vet who owns a house on the beach. I regret I wasn´t there to hear the shouts and profanity. Something wickedly satisfying about that. Glad to know it had nothing specifically to do with me.

Our local secondary school just threw a big beach party for fundraising since their school consists of one room for all four grades and has no plumbing whatsoever. I can´t say that it was a financial windfall, but it was a great show of dancing and singing for the audience... OUR kids onstage wowing us all with their choreography and energy. Great food, too.

And on our homefront.... at some point in most every day, little Luis stands by our fence and calls gently, ¨Hallo.... Hallo....¨ to get my attention when he wants to visit. Today, I forgot how deeply tuned in little children are, and called out to him that I was busy working --and I was-- and he crumbled ever so gently, tears rolling and nose running. I had him over that fence and giggling in a heartbeat. Little radiant eyes. He rolled all over our floor gesturing for tickles and then running away from them. When his heart was full, he gestured to climb back over to play with his cousins who called for him.

His ¨papa¨ --who is really his GREAT grandfather and that is a very long and interwoven story worthy of a novel-- told me a bit later that Luis calls for me, and cries to come see me at bedtime. Sigh. I am trying to prepare him for our sudden long absence... and I gave him a great calendar with photos of wild animal babies. I tried to explain to him that whenever he missed me, he could look at these sweet animals and remember me... something like that, in my fractured Spanish. He WILL be all right, of course. Lots of close relatives all around who love him. He does seem to be recovering steadily from the traumatic loss of his mother. Every day he seems to have yet one more word in his tiny spoken vocabulary. Mostly, he still uses very precise and graceful gestures mimicking whatever he means to say. A truly sweet heart....

And so...
Goodby butterflies, goodby neighbors, goodby ocean waves however small you seemed to be this visit, goodby village, Sayonara Mexico..... Watch this space for photos.

Monday, November 24, 2008

We interrupt this reverie...

....for a brief political rant.

But first... did you know that our butterflies sleep 14 hours each night! They bed down at about 7pm, and awaken around 9am, though some slug'abeds are still hanging to their vine close to 10am. And we hope to stop by the big Monarch Butterfly refuge to the north of us as we start the long drive home.... which hopefully begins sometime the first week of December.

Now... the rant. Our departure date is, oddly enough, being affected by.....

....the Japanese!

We want to finish our back porch floor before leaving, but our friend the Mayor, who will help us, is very involved in out of town meetings with the fishermen´s guild regarding the steel factory built by the Japanese....

Years ago the Japanese company bribed their way onto the Mexican coastline to the north of us... we can see their smog from our beach, just on the horizon. They delivered a free fiberglass fishing boat to every fisherman to the south of their factory... including our Little Salty Place. Our friend the Mayor had one of these boats until it wore out in the surf. Now he has a motor but no boat. He wades into the sea to fish with a hand'thrown net... but that´s another developing story.

Anyway, you may have noticed my comments scattered through this blog about the fishless sea. Of course there ARE fish, but a noticeable reduction. Even I can notice it. Just this morning I wandered among the low tide shallows and no longer see the brightly colored tiny tropical fish that I used to admire for hours. Just a green fuzz on the rocks.

The pollution from their steel factory has, of course, devastating effects on the oceanic environment. And the Japanese want to buy the silence of the fishermen with an offer of a cool $8000 to each and every fisherman. So that is why the fishermen are having these many and multi'day meetings.

And that is why our porch doesn´t get finished.... ironically, we are planning to pour a cement floor -- which is in its own way environmentally detrimental . Sigh.

Anyway. I have told Guillermo...the Mayor... that this issue does not belong in small secretive meetings between local fishermen and the Japanese factory owners. This issue belongs in front of the United Nations. The ocean belongs to all creatures of the world and ... etc etc etc. I actually intend to take up this issue, somehow, when I return to my own computer and phone line.

End of rant.

Yesterday, one of our butterflies flew onto our porch and mistook our porch wall, which is painted a remarkable sky-blue color, for the sky. He tried to fly right through it. No harm done. And he only tried that once.... unlike the bird later on, who tried quite a few times! ...to no harm done as well.

The day after Thanksgiving, our village folk are hosting a huge charity dinner on the beach, at Lourdes´restaurant, to garner donations for our local secondary school which doesn´t even have bathrooms. Our neighbor women will be cooking, and they are great cooks, and our village kids who are dear friends for lo these past six years, will both entertain us with song and dance, and serve the food to the crowd that we all hope shows up.

We will be there of course.... but other than for this event, I have quit going to Lourdes´place altogether. Guero´s hatred got to me.  I now enjoy tranquil and peaceful days all along the beach everywhere ELSE!  No problemo. Que es buena la vida.

and a point of trivia.... this Thanksgiving marks Robert´s and my 14th Anniversary of sharing a life together.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Waking with Butterflies

The other night, as I was strolling through our jungly backyard, my attention was pulled over to a fluttering beside me! Ahhhh! It was a little cloud of beautiful butterflies settling in for the night on a thin hanging vine. I was privileged to watch as they jostled and adjusted and then became still. Even when ..oh yes I got my camera with its intrusive flash.. yet even when I took closeup flash photos, they seemed already deep in sleep simply because they did not react in the slightest. Their six thin little legs hang on to the very thin and dead vine, so that they are at best vertical but some are actually hanging upside down. Most are clustered together, but a few are single or in small groups.

The following morning, what luck, my timing was such that I was there to watch them waking up. The first one actually stretched its wings slowly as if yawning, folded them up again, and went back to sleep awhile. One by one, however, they showed signs of awaking. Not all stretched first. One I happened to be looking at, very closely, simply dropped off the vine and caught himself with a flap of wings. I could HEAR his wings!

The following night, they bedded down in the same configuration... most together in the same place they were before, and the singles in their chosen space.

I could wax eloquent on the varieties of butterflies... and the thrill of them as they flutter around the many flowers in the front of our house. Them, and the hummingbirds -- how they love the male papaya tree with its multitude of daily blooming flowers. The papaya is a volunteer from a seed one of us spit off of the porch, and this lovely show begins our every day.

Alas, Robert envisions transforming our wilderness into a forest of beautiful hardwood trees instead of the junk thorn trees and vines that it is now. Wants us to return in June to bulldoze the wild bit, and plant the saplings just before the rains begin. They will grow fast, and have pumpkin and squash vines at their feet .... Can the butterflies find places to sleep in the new growth... and will the big toad that haunts our hole in the ground survive the dozer.... oh sigh...

As for, um, Guero. Bluster. I have enjoyed watching his doubletakes over at me, at Lourdes´place, when various locals from our village show up -- sometimes adults and sometimes kids -- and show obvious delight in seeing me there and come over for animated chats. He leaves me alone now. The other funny thing... this guy lives in the States and speaks fluent English, but never lets on. I heard that from another bilingual guy. Enough.

Projects -- our new carport which is also a shade roof for the east wall, is completely done and makes an immediate difference in how pleasant is our morning. Cool... And Robert has also put up the ceiling fan, ahhh. And this week, we may actually get the new outdoor kitchen floor poured.... under its own shade roof built years back. The trellis will be up before we leave so that the huge flowering plant called copa de oro will provide more shade for the carport.... Many other projects, too..... all being worked on at a casual pace.

We have a lot of time to work on them because, hey, the waves are certainly surfable but not compelling. Robert is happy to go down to the sea whenever, and often he waits til the tourist crowd is exhausted so he has them to himself. There has been exactly ZIP for waves for this boogie boarder. I just float around and mess with the little waves as if I were a dolphin.

Because so many kids play at our house -- new ones we are just now meeting as well -- various mamacitas show their appreciation by bringing down reallyreally fine meals. All the men in the village are also fishermen, and when there ARE fish in the sea and that is a questionable maxim by the way, then we find someone walking up our little path bearing freshcooked tuna with a great salsa spread atop, and homemade tortillas.... or they give us tiritas which is fresh fish cured with lime and mixed with salsa ingredients of a different configuration. Or it is chicken tamales and a drink called orchata.

Each year our life here enriches... and truth be told I am actually rather shy here or it would be even richer.

UPDATE In previous blogs, I have mentioned little Luis whose mom for godknowswhy abandoned a child we have known her to dearly love and be such a sweet attentive mother to... and left him to the great grandfather. It has been a rough and painful transition. But just yesterday, little Luis caught sight of me as I was walking down the road and called to me from inside a neighboring house. Humongous grin, radiant face, slap me five! And then he said VROOM!

He was with his Abuelito, cuddled up, and laughing to see me. He has been coming over to our house at irregular intervals, and is enthusiastically involved with all the toys there. I have also given him for his very own--- TRUCKS made of wood. He calls them VROOM! It is the only word I ever hear him speak. He does NOT speak at age three, sigh. Except for VROOM! Oh, and I caught him saying another word -- YA! which in Spanish means enough, or finished or the like. He was playing with one of my big plastic trucks on our porch and made it do what he wanted. YA!

I will post photos of various whatnot mentioned here come December when we return home. Do feel free to email me at my own personal email anytime! I miss hearing from you. Adios!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Political Yin / Political Yang

---but first--let me just mention how delightful it is to walk behind our house into the jungly growth and be greeted by curtains of large colorful butterflies hovering directly before me -- a morning treat.

---and let me also delight in the memory of Halloween when all the little kids in the village plus a few guiding adults came to our porch in delightful varieties of costumes. The laughter, the colorful costumes, the playfulness. And we had plenty of goodies for all, three times over.

So... the Political Yin was sharing the tension of pre-election with our village friends. They ARE paying attention thanks to television... Fun discussions in broken language conversations. And then last night, Robert and I HAD planned to cross the river and go to the beach internet to learn, in English, what was going on but decided not to --see Political Yang below.

We went to bed instead. But our friends --the Mayor and his wife -- did not. They were the ones glued to the TV at a neighbor´s house for the 10 o´clock noticias. Then, to their credit, and our delight, they walked down the winding dirt road to our place at the end of the village -- their footsteps crunching on the gravel awoke us... and we emerged from our mosquito net bedroom. They said nothing til we were all at the table. They were smiling.

What amazed me, as Guillermo was telling us the election results, was that he was talking electoral votes and knew the numbers in his head --can many Americans be bothered?-- and then he clinched our joy by saying that McCain had already called Obama to concede the election and congratulate the new president. A few words later, both he and his wife commented -- watching our faces-- that this was the first black man to be elected president, si? And he talked about how the Dems won the Senate and.... he was really stoked himself. This is a poor landless fisherman on an ocean which has been fished out. He struggles doing day labor and we hire him a lot. He´s bright, agile, lively and handsome and, yeah, a powerful worker. His entire family is very dear to us.

So there we sat last night, smiles all around -- a delightful sharing of intimate friendship. Then they crunched down the gravel driveway and we crawled back into our mosquito net bedroom.

As for the Political Yang. I just feel like grousing a bit. There are two locals on the beach who have taken a really strong attitude against us. Looks of true hate. Since everyone goes by nicknames, I´ll just give these two nicknames usually reserved for us norte'americanos. I´ll call them Gringo and Guero --which means whitey. Gringo owns a rental and adamantly dislikes it when we visit friends who rent his property. Just seeing us sitting on the porch which he built, in a chair which he bought infuriates him and he makes that clear. We are not PAYING for that privilege, he explains to our friends when they object to his attitude.

And Guero recently stopped me from stepping up to the porch of Lourdes´restaurant one morning demanding, in his furious Spanish, that I order something then and there, or ... and he sneered... do you think you can have all this for free, and he gestured at the porch with its chairs and tables and exquisite view of the pointbreak. I smiled and said that right now I wasn´t hungry and was going to drop off my stuff and take a swim.

To myself I thought --Well, mister a-hole, we eat or drink something there every single day and use the crappy internet-typewrite-keyboard-whatever it is called for the exhorbitant fee they charge, and we rent surfboards as well. We do our part for sure. We also bring gifts and help out in our village in ways he is totally unaware of, including running an informal daycare center on our porch every day when we are home. But he has already made up his mind. Lourdes ignored all this and greeted me with a smile, and invited me in...

Then Guero accosted Robert for leaving his surfboard leaning against a rental next door where a bunch of fellow Coloradans are renting...friends of ours, actually! Guero said they were NOT our friends, they were HIS friends, and there´s a big problem here. Same glare of hate.

Our solution is simply to continue being quiet and gracious, eating and drinking at the restaurant, visiting friends and not escalating any of this with angry retorts... We do know a few influential locals who might step in if things escalate in any way... Sure is ugly though...

Robert´s suspicion as to what is instigating all this is that these new-found entrepreneurs have the vision of creating a kind of a Club Med out of the beach -- so that you have to actually be renting one of their places in order to have the privilege of being there and using any of the facilities... They are all quite new to how much money is out there in the surf business and they want to grab all they can get. They view us as non-contributing sponges, evidently.

Anyway, yin-yang, good with bad, dark with light. And Robert has just signalled me that he´d like for us to move on with our day in town and get back to.....that very beach! There´s supposed to be a swell coming later on. Porque no! Vamanos!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sapo Verde Es Tu

"Sapo verde es tu "-- which translates roughly "Hippo birdie two ewes" if you get my drift.
But in actuality I am not celebrating any one{s birthday. I just recognized a kinship in the phrase "sapo verde es tu" and an incident at dinner last night. (This typewriter is badly badly damaged so forgive typos and mising leters)

A "sapo verde" is a green frog.
Last night two village kids dropped by for dinner. When they hudled around the pot for refils, I felt a banana peel land on my shoulder! Yikes! I figured little 9yearold Ariana did it as a joke.but then this "banana peel" hopped OFf my shoulder and right next to my bowl of soup! It was, of course, a sapo verde! ) EDIT--it was actually a large green ¨rana¨' which means frog -- I just learned that a ¨ ¨sapo´¨ is a toad. END OF EDIT

Th joys of life in the semi-tropics! In another moment, sapo verde hopped off the table into the jungle at the edge of our porch.
I can{t deal with this typewriter (keyboard-I have just badly dated myself).
Love from paradise! Sara y Roverto

Monday, October 20, 2008

La Tormenta

(I just found the time to write something here...so I´ll start at the beginning: our arrival in the Little Salty Place on October 10)
We bumped and splashed down the twisty hilly dirt road to our village after four days on the road... and stopped every three or four houses to get out and hug dear friends, and then drive a bit more. All the while, the kids velcroed to our car, laughing and babbling in excitement. Finally, I just joined the little cloud of enthusiasm and together we made our way to the far end of the village, and to the gate below our humble casita...
...and there we stopped.

We could go no further.

The rainy season had caused the jungle to completely obscure our property.. you could barely see the roof of our little casita at the top of the little hill. You could open the gate, but you couldn´t walk in... far too thick and high and tangled for that.

But aha!! Comes the Man With a Machete! The Mayor, and our dear friend!

As though he were the Pied Piper, we filed in close behind him as he powerfully slashed a twisting, winding route up the hill to our porch. From the porch, we looked out on..... jungle. Jungle with ZINNIAS peeking out here and there. Did I ever plant zinnias? I don´t remember.

I opened up our three rooms -- all was fine and safe, sequestered in neat rows and stacks of plastic boxes to keep out the animals and insects. Robert sauntered in, grabbed HIS machete, and together he and the mayor cleared our driveway and brought the car up.

By then, the kids had settled in on the porch floor as if we had never left (which we HAD-- last May!). They know where all the toys and drawing implements are, and set themselves up for a lovely afternoon with us...

Then came La Tormenta!
¿Isn´t that a great name for the swirling tail of a hurricane?

Solid rainfall pounding all around and I swear there were fish swimming out there... But no wind, so no one got wet. It fell straight down, and we were safe under our porch roof. The pounding torment of hard rain on our tin roof was deafening and we yelled over it to be heard. Other than that, no one seemed to notice. It is just la tormenta. No es nada.

When the rain let up, the kids wandered home for dinner. They had about 30 minutes to do that before it started up again... and that was the pattern for our first few days. The breaks were just long enough to get stuff done before it all started again.

What sweetened our arrival even more was the next morning... our first morning back. There was a brief break in la tormenta, and in that break the Mayor and his wife walked down from their house bearing a big bowl of chicken soup Mexicana, and fresh home-made tortillas.

We are expecting a huge swell, growing ever higher all this week. Not many surfers around, so that is a good thing, too. The surf has been quite small for our first days here, and thus we got a lot done around the casita and yard. Muchmore to do, as always. And there is village gossip, of course. And kids have matured, friendships deepened. No sharks. I have gotten into crayon drawings again....

You can continue to write to us at my email address == you do not have to go through this blogspot. And if you DO write, then I will have YOUR email address and can respond. I did not bring down a list of emails, nor did we remember to bring our bedding, nor did we bring brown rice, nor did we bring our favorite spices for food, not even brewer,s yeast or soy sauce... we are coping with salsa and chile peppers of course. Gosh, the food is great here, and the fruit abundant. And Jojo,s gift of a box of Colorado apples is veryvery popular, too.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Clearing of the air...again

I should stick to storytelling of course, but recently there have been two art exhibitions with a Call to Artists that elicited images in my mind...  and so I put them to paper.  I include them here, so I can move on...

"Nizhoni No More" -- Nizhoni means beautiful in Navajo...  
This is the image I saw in my mind as I read the call for art which protests the proposed construction of yet another (and the largest) coal-fired power plant here in the Four Corners.  I chose to depict a Navajo rug from the Beautiful Way, being obliterated by the pollution from the operation of the plant.  Thus the ancient wisdom traditions are also obliterated by greed.

"Welcome In"
I had already painted this, and when I read of an upcoming "Sacred Arts Festival," I decided to submit it.  The image I was trying to express was that of coming abundance -- the ephemeral approaching camels taking solid form as they pass through the shimmering yantra of abundance.  A friend pointed out that the imagery is also Christian -- the Three Kings passing through the Star of David and taking solid form.  This downloaded photo barely shows the Star of David which is at the center of the yantra.

Monday, June 30, 2008

...mere sketches

Since I was unable to capture the true profusion of color with a camera, I tried to do so with colored pencils. Pretty poor sketching skills, but this does give a bit more of a feel for how lush the flowers were this year.... along the side of our humble little casita in the Little Salty Place. We planted three colors of bugambilia at the base of a "retorño" tree.  This creates a great trompe-l'oeil -- telling the eye that this tree has three colors of blossoms (white, red and purple). The yellow blooms in the big pots are "Copa de Oro" and will be transplanted to the base of our upcoming carport support posts... copious yellow blooms on a climbing plant. In the foreground -- margaritas! And over by the water tank is a mango tree dripping with yet-to ripen mangos.

A quick sketch, celebrating the hibiscus...

Friday, June 13, 2008

MexPix / Village life - Spring 2008

BRIEF SHARK UPDATE:  They've posted warning signs on our beach and there's a lifeguard by the break with a two-way radio.  A helicopter cruises the coastline and reports sightings (two great whites and a bunch of bull sharks).  Apparently the sharks cruised off somewhere, though, because according to an email from Matilde, everyone was right back in the water for a 5-day huge swell, her husband included.  No attacks.

But here, a small selection -- almost random -- of our village life.  Peter has promised to share his pix, too.  He has a great photographer's eye.  In a future post:  a couple of drawings, pix of the beach-life, and hopefully I can finally succeed in uploading a video of Jesus & Francisco singing an old corrida...

Our humble home as it looks in April, 2008.  The ferns, fruit trees, and flowers will continue to grow more prolific and luxuriant as the years go by.  This home was built by the brother of a village friend of ours (see photo below this one).  

Here is the family who built our casita.  They lived in it, unfinished and unplastered, for a number of years and then crossed the border (early '80s).  They are legal US citizens now.   Their son (at the top) is said to be the Police Chief or Sheriff of Fresno.  Maybe so.  The two boys in their laps are actually neighbor kids.

Our very first guava trees are flowering!!  When the fruit is ready to eat, it will be our village friends who will be the lucky ones to pluck them.  What makes this guava, and the lemon and the mandarin trees as well, so delightful is that we did NOT plant them.  We sat on the porch the very first season we were here and spit the seeds over the side.  They just growed.

This is the first photo taken of little Chaneke, the nephew of Corazon.  As did Corazon, little Chaneke has a heart on his side....   but Chaneke is clearly his own self, feisty little trickster that he is.

Ahhh, but not all of Chaneke's days were on his own terms.  So teeny was this flea-bitten furbag that on flea-be-gone days, this is how Robert did it.  Stuffed him in a large coke bottle with the soap.  No claws, no cries.  Just dumb submission.  Fluffy clean kitty afterwards.

We are very proud of our private showering facilities, under a fruiting mango tree.  At last, we can shower naked.  "No es correcto" to be seen without clothes, you know -- huh, Jojo?

Here, Robert is conferring with the mayor of our Little Salty Place about construction plans for our new outdoor kitchen.  Guillermo is sitting at his own home's construction site, where he is adding several bedrooms of brick and cement to his previous wattle-and-daub construction.

And here is a series of photos of the village kids we've been watching and loving as they grow.

Drawing is always popular, so I keep crayons, pencils, glue, scissors and paper (and other amusements) handy.  The kids know where I stash them, and are welcome anytime to just start in. (Luis, standing. Angelica, Ariana, Anomiszul, Daisy;  Robert by the car)

Anomiszul is studying how the world is put together....

The mood is so loving, warm and light.  Jenga is also so popular... Anomiszul, Robert, Omar, Sandra and Lalo here.

Some of the teenagers!  We've known these good-looking youths since they were little kids (oh, and Peter on the right, showing them his digital pix).

"¡¡¡O Solo Mio!!!" sings Damiancito....

Ariana (our little shadow) and her cousin Damiancito, in front of Ariana's wattle-and-daub home -- built by her dad, the mayor of our Little Salty Place.

Sandra (Ariana's older sister) on her 13th birthday.

Just one of countless work photos, this one showing that wild ladder which Robert made -- 90 pounds of heavy coconut wood, held in the air by one single pole.  That's Peter helping him with the pouring of a new cement post.

And here...  at the home of dearly loved Jesus Pompa (seated with guitar, father of 11 kids spanning from 70 years to 14) and his second wife (mother of some of them), Julie.  Jesus sings the high harmonies and Francisco, in the foreground, sings the haunting melodies.  All the old corridas.  Francisco bicycles here every night on a dark bumpy dirt road from another village -- every night! -- in order to sing with Jesus.  For us, it is a short walk from our casita, and we are transported.  In a separate entry on this blogspot,  I hope to post one of our short videos of these two singing one of their corridas.  Watch the fingerwork of Jesus! In this photo below, pictured with them are David Carey, Peter Carey, Robert and myself. 

UPDATE: for the life of me I cannot get the short video to post.  Can't even email it out. Practically shuts down the computer.  Any advice out there?  The videos are ".mpg" format, from our little digital camera. (Also, couldn't post the photos any larger than this... dang)

I miss everyone already, and we're hardly a week back home.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

More shark attacks -- and timing belt woes...

I feel that I´m being a bit indulgent by contining to write of these shark attacks, but they keep COMING! I feel these deaths as though I knew these people.

The very day I wrote the entry before this one, I then learned that two more had died from attacks -- this time on beaches to the northwest of us (the others were to the southeast of us, not that it matters to a shark)....

One attack was just one stinking mile from the beach where Robert, Peter and a couple of young lads from our village were surfing -- they had gotten up early to drive to a more challenging wave further northwest along the shore, and it was not their time.

On our last full day in our Little Salty Place, we drove Pete and his dad to the airport and spent the rest of the day packing up the house, and loving our friends in the village, missing them already....

...while at the very same time, and unknown to us then, at our beach, so very nearby, Lourdes was warning everyone that six (6!) sharks had been spotted in our surf -- compliments of the fishermen who are out their in their big heavy open motorboats. Two of the sharks were humongous, longer than our station wagon. We only heard about it after we were packed up and just sitting quietly on our porch in the cool of our last night. Omar. He told us. He is Hanuman.

The impact of these shark deaths will have a devastating effect on so many of our friends in our village.... and all of the coastal villages. We are stunned and sobered and awakened in a new way... the dreamworld shattered, as such worlds always are.

And now we are on the road north as planned from before any of this began.

But we are not, um, getting anywhere just now.

That funny electrical, burning smell we attributed to a passing truck was actually us. Our timing belt uttlerly shredded and the motor just stopped, and the car gently coasted to a stop by a big shade tree, next to a cool moist glen! Handy for Robert who is there right now working on the car...

We had hardly got the hood up and the problem assessed before a little red car stopped and a very kind soul offered whatever help he could give us. He took Robert to a mechanical shop for parts. Robert has his own tools and expertise, plus our car is intentionally of a style for which parts are commonly available in Mexico.

Then, he came and got me (and little Chaneke) and took me off to a very pleasant hotel with free internet. Ta'da!

I expect we will be back on the road north, through customs and in Texas by, say, early afternoon tomorrow, and heading for Durango.

Mexico, Mexico, Mexico -- a big part of our hearts, now more poignantly than ever.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Shark attacks on the Mexican Riviera

We are leaving tomorrow at dawn for the long drive north... Home maybe late May 30th, inshallah.

When I have time to muse, I want to create a little essay on time'traveling right here in our Little Salty Place, and wax eloquent on the immersion into love that is a specialty of life in this village... To my experience, that is the goal of all our conversations. When we lean back in laughter, our eyes meeting in that vast space of recognition, what more is there to say?

But there is also a sobering awakening in the air. There were back to back shark attacks on nearby beaches -- that means two more since the one I reported earlier in this blog... That makes three in a short time. A young handsome local was killed just a short ways down the road (Pantla) and the very next day, a wiry ex'pat American was attacked at Playa Linda (read: Ixtapa). He managed to grab his board and beat the shark off. He was also on a beach which is a short drive to the US Naval Hospital where he could receive blood transplants... The other two young men were on more remote beaches, and bled to death. Legs and hands, legs and hands...

I´m bringing back newspapers with photos of all the victims. They deliver these newspapers to all the villages -- just drive down the long dusty bumpy roads with a loudspeaker announcing the contents of the newspaper and if you are interested, you run out to the road with your coins in your hot little hand...

So WHY all these attacks when there have never been any before? Here´s what they´re saying at Lourdes' bar on the beach... We have all seen the helicopters and planes droning overhead all along the Mexican Riviera.... Apparently these guys are checking out the situation.

The report we got back is that there is a cold current which runs along the length of the great coast of Mexico. Usually it is quite far out to sea. The fish hang out in the cold current and thus, the sharks cruise along with them, feeding at will. That cold current has moved in towards the shoreline, CLOSE to the shoreline. With it come the fish, and following them are the sharks....

What´s the difference, to a shark, between a big fish and a big human in the water?

The men report that the cold current is rife with sharks, wild with sharks, dark with sharks. Said one of the men in one of those planes, "I sure as hell wouldn´t go into that water now...." Robert quit going out in our last couple of days. We were even testy about boogie'boarding close to shore....

So our only consolation seems to be that we can hope that this cold current (which our local fisherman do not recall having ever moved so close to shore) will drift on back out to the open sea...

Robert has just appeared, done with his errands. Time to go back to the village, finish packing, and drive on back north.... with Chaneke/Senor Bigote/Bandido/cat of many nicknames.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hot Sex in the Breakers... and other musings


I guess they thought no one would notice, or maybe they didn´t notice that there were people watching, or maybe they completely forgot that there were any other people in the world. But for two days in a row, two separate couples got it ON right there in the ocean.

There were people watching of course.

I happened to be in the very same wave sets, a short distance away, both times. An occasional side'glance was irresistable. The first couple melted themselves into each other, right where the waves broke around them. She was in a tight leg'lock around his waist, her arms around his neck. As the waves enveloped and revealed them, their union was made visible to all. I got to thinking what a wonderful blending of worlds that must be, you know.... The swelling of the wave all around them lifting them together into weightlessness, and then exploding all around them, enveloping them in a force bigger than themselves, rolling and turning them, pulling them back out and exploding again, and again, and again..... Hmmm....

The next day, I just happened to out in the waves again -- like I am every day, right in front of our favorite little restaurant run by one of our village neighbors. This couple joined me and then forgot about me. Their blending was more discreet, and the waves a bit calmer. They held their ground just out from the breaking point of the waves. Thus they were simply lifted into weightlessness and gently dropped, and lifted again and gently dropped. You saw only their heads for the most part. But ah, the expressions on her face told all -- absorbed, passionate, reveling in their immersion.... If you happened to glance over their way, that is.

Like how do you top that?
Okay, I´ll behave myself.

Dear little Luis! I have always waved and sent him sweet smiles, reminding him that we are neighbors so he would be accustomed to me. The other day, we were each on our own side of the fence separating our yards. He was playing with sticks and I was slashing away at the strangling vine threatening our mango trees.

When I spoke to him, he came right over and handed me two little sticks! A great gift. I ran and got him a banana. A BANANA! He was all over it. So then, I got him his very own box of crayons and the three pieces of blank paper I have left -- red, green, and yellow construction paper. He became the embodiment of Picasso in the heart of creative passion. He quickly searched out a flat piece of stone and began transforming the green paper into solid yellow with a concentration of body and mind and soul that is the envy of all artists! His entire body was involved and there was only yellow appearing on green in his universe... Or, well, he was the universe.

.... and last night! Robert and I and friends were walking down our little road and there he was with his Great Grandfather. They were standing in the patio of others of our friends. He waved me over to him, beamingly radiant!! Oh my heart. He took my hand and stared into my eyes with such love, with such a pure and huge smile on his face.....

...back at the beach: It is full moon so the waves are outrageous and wild right up to the beach so all of us are uttlerly absorbed, and in the end we are all happily exhausted with the riding of them and the tumbling in them.

...back at the house: Peter and Robert and David (Peter´s dad) are busily helping put up more cement posts with that 90 pound home'made ladder and its one pole precariously balanced to hold it in the air. From these new poles will emerge a carport and shade for the house.

And Robert got the electricity hooked up so we just hit a switch and there is Light. Next come the fridge, the juicer, the crockpot, and so on. The villagers always assume the first thing we will purchase is a television. Ummmm, not likely.

Robert gave me three beautiful fragrant rosebushes (now planted around the house) for my birthday, and all the other flowering plants from previous birthdays are in full bloom.

And the rains are beginning. The first rain was last night, getting us all up at 3 am to help Peter and David each get their tents (with no rain fly) under porch roofs (rooves).

And all that signals the fast approaching end of this journey. I will probably have one more Mexico entry before this blogspot reverts back to musings from whereever and whatever comes to me. We have maybe 10 days left... Maybe not even that. Maybe a week.

We are so HERE, so slowed down now, so laid back. It took a long time -- we hit a lot of bumps. But the waves and flowers and villagers kept combing our energies into a peaceful flow. It is a privilege to be here in our little salty place. Love to you all, whoever is out there.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Interlude & Lights

I like to wake up just before dawn and sit quietly before a candle, with my dulcimer tuned to a simple drone.

As the dawn slowly lightens the sky and makes visible the fiery red bugambilia (Spanish for bougainevillea), I tune my voice to the lowest note I can hold, and slowly work up and down the scale, a little higher every few minutes. In the end, I have two clean octaves, and start singing those songs I have loved and carried with me since I lived in the foothills of the Himalayas more than half a lifetime ago.

The birds dance all around my voice, and an occasional cow sets a new bass note. A chorus of roosters sets a scale that travels from our far end of the village all the way to the other end, and back again. A timpany of dog barks sets in now and again. Accents of Spanish float by...

Quite often, this marvelous reverie is brought abruptly to a halt with a leap from a feisty kitten... although today, Cheneke (prounounced "cha-NAY-kay") crept up quietly onto the upturned edge of the dulcimer and settled down above my rhythmic fingers and watched, head to one side for quite some time before biting them.

The effect of that bite was much the same as my adding this byte to my prose:
Hey man! We are WIRED!
Yesterday it was beastly hot and no waves. Sun directly overhead. We were plotting an escape to a waterfall when Guillermo (the town mayor and dear dear friend) ambled by to tell us that the electricity guys were in the village. He worked it out with them to wire us up right then. Told THEM we were renting from him, because they would not have wired up foreigners just like that--more paperwork for gringos. Lucky us. Robert had already poured two tall cement posts and bought all the accoutrements and we were READY!

He was out there for hours, WITH those guys, hooking up all the boxes, and cable and whatever --with a sun directly overhead. I was in the shade, ready to hop up and get whatever he needed.

So today we´re in town getting the mundane stuff to use the electricity which IS running through our cables as I type. Tonight we will have a light bulb over our campstove, and we can even have our very own home'made carrot-beet juice! Next time down, we´ll buy a refrigerator and we can have, um, ice cream.....

BIG SWELL due in on Sunday! Grab your boards.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Life´s Greatest Koan

Mind you, the sea is as enchanting as ever -- walking through the coco trees and flowering hibiscus, and immersing yourself into the luminous crystalline silver liquid and having it play BACK with you... Yes, life is good.

But it has been challenging lately in other ways... Here are three examples which illuminate life´s greatest koan...

The day after the news hit, the swell was so spectacular that everyone was right back in the water (if indeed anyone actually did stay out after they heard). The villagers were stopping Robert and myself as we rode by on our bikes with our boards under arm -- warning us of the shark attack. Even Omar scurried to find us and warn us...

...but when we all reached the beach and saw the bay'wide towering rows of shimmering green and white right up to the boogie beach, we ALL went right on in. Omar, too.

The shark attack was not at our beach. It was at Troncones... which is a mere, sobering, three miles as the shark swims, from where we play. This is very rare news. First time in living memory (of anyone!) to hear of one so nearby. A Tiger shark, the cruising lethal kind of shark that bites to kill... Four guys were out at that bewitching sunset time when the world is purple and yellow liquid and your eyes are enchanted and your heart flowing with the waves. They were at a very very popular beach.... The shark struck fiercely, of course, and took out his thigh. Amazingly, the guy was able to stroke for shore but there was no saving him...

The local fishermen, it is said, went on a hunting spree and hauled in 15 sharks -- but if they did, and rumors do fly, still, all they caught were the Nurse Sharks, bottom feeders. No one even saw the cruising lethal Tiger. He´s still out there, and it could be a she, I suppose.

Same day of the big swell -- of course -- two young gringo girls went out to play in the surf, knowing nothing of the sea. They went in at the far end of the beach where I NEVER swim, where the waves close out hard, and where there is almost always a riptide current that will pull you out, as we say, all the way to Lazaro Cardenas.... It was our beloved Matilde who spotted them. (For those of you don´t know our cast of characters, if anyone at all even reads this, Matilde is a gringa from Texas and everyone´s dear friend. She does not go in the water these days.) She was expecting trouble and had her binoculars handy.

She called out to passing surfers along the beach -- who took off on a run with their boards, yelling to other surfers further on down, and so forth... til guys with boards right at that location heard them, and took off straight out. When they brought the girls in, they fell sobbing to the sand, hugging it, unable to thank ANYone enough for having saved their lives.

By the way, for those of you who sent me birthday greetings -- the shark attack was on my birthday, while I lay sick with a headache and quick cold. The many happy returns was the swell. I am not being sarcastic or snide. Life here is too open, too clear, for that... Gifts are in the eye of the observer. I learn from these disasters, too.

Last night Robert and I were awakened as usual, by a sobbing little two year old boy who lives right next door to us. We´ve known him since before he was born, but WHY did his mommy who had been so very loving and attentive, abandon him to his great'grandfather? His sobs are existential and earth'shaking. This child is shattered. The great´grandfather is a very likable gentle and soft´spoken man, but he is no mother. He treats this forlorn and lost child like he were, say, 15 years old. Threatens to hit the kid for crying. Orders him to stop. Walks away. Leaves the kid there, frozen in emptiness...

Omar once told us that the Mexican way is to leave people alone to live their lives the way they see fit. ... So I don´t know how to reach this child. When I see him now, that once happy outgoing little boy acts as though he has never seen me and hides both Robert and me. I call him my little friend, my neighbor, the little Heart of Gold every time we come face to face. I remind him of how he loved to play with blocks at my house next door... He peeks out at me and I give a little smile...

This is another kind of death going on here....

Which brings this entry back around to its title, Life´s Greatest Koan. It is Death. We all sit with it, in the verymidst of paradise, in the verymundaneness of life. Om....

love, Rosalia Rescate (the kids now call me by my translated passport name) y "Chango!" (a better Spanish name for Monkey, they tell me)

Monday, April 28, 2008

one road....

Had to write again!

While Robert is across the street in Zihua having really good tamales (and I´m not the least bit hungry tonight), I just HAD to hop on the internet to point out that, hey, I´m really not all that far removed, if at all, from the techie world! Through the net, which is available right on the beach for US$5/hour (versus US $1.00 in Zihua), I´ve just been tuning in with friends around the world (NZ, Vietnam, Slovakia,and east to west coast USA, for instance). and I could if I wished tune into all the music and books and podcasts which I´ve put on my iPod. As for a cellphone, we´re talking awfully seriously about getting one....

...which is for a reason yáll might get a kick out of, actually. You see, we cannot SEE the sea from our house and even though we may hear waves THUNDERING AND CRASHING from our house, that doesn´t necessarily mean the waves are big at the break. Its a beeeg beach-front and the waves we hear could well be on the rocky shore on OUR side of the river. SO.........

.....if we had a cellphone, we could call our favorite friends who live right there AT the break and ask what´s going on and of course, furthermore, they could call US to get our buns and boards over the river and through the coco'grove PRONTO. Robert´s eyebrows went up at that thought...

All our villagers, pretty much, have cellphones by the way. For instance, there I was DEEP into a huge coconut grove with a man and his wife who were slaving away with machetes in the heat, and among the men climbing up the trunks like monkeys to lower down whole, um, bunches(?) of coconuts ("Isn´t this a loverly bunch of coconuts..."). The wife pulled out her cell phone and called her kids back in the village to come out here with a big pitcher of water with ice, and some crunchies.

Oops. Robert just finished his tamale, so I will sign out of the digital world and return to our little wired village. Soon (and especially after THIS town trip where we bought all we need for it) we
will have our own electricity and by extension, an operating iPod without wearing down the batteries.

By the way, in preparation for stringing up all the wire (which we must provide) and setting up the boxes etc (which we must buy), this very morning, before we left for town, Robert mixed cement in the wheelbarrow and poured it down the tall circular forms which he had created and then wired together. These will be the poles to carry the electric wires up the hill to our house. We have to do everything ourselves, as you can see.

Two roads diverged in a yellow world and it´s apparently possible to take both.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

¡¡Hi, homeys!!

So, we were walking down our winding dirt road through our little village one dark evening, and as we passed by a gathering of the older kids (teens and 20s), one of them said quietly to us, and in a friendly way, "¡Hi, homeys!"

Say what?

So, L.A. is arriving in our Little Salty Place ( the name of our village, translated into English)... For those of you who know our friends here, it was another one of Omar´s many uncles... a guy who JUST got back from a number of years in L.A. There has been a bit of a rush on returns here, lately. Each of them smiles, and says they came back because they like it better here.

That sweet little surprise was one of the cherries on the end of one helluva great (WORK) day. It´s a day to be remembered for the uncommon amount of activity...

It began at dawn. We had barely crawled out from under our mosquito netting when Ramon ambled up our hill for a friendly cup of coffee on our porch... It was a cool morning, so after coffee, I grabbed a machete and a stick and headed out to our front yard to begin the great clearing of the jungly overgrowth (we were absent from here for 10 months this time, so our property is buried in such growth).

My clumsy slashing was too much for Ramon. He grabbed a machete and a stick and came out there with me. His help was much appreciated, but alas he cut down two (2!) of our baby lemon trees as well as the humongous weed trees. Anyway, Robert also got inspired, grabbed his machete and stick and took off down the hill to clear where we will build a tower for our electricity pole (yahoo!), and along came Guillermo (dear friend and incidentally the mayor and father of our little shadow, Ariana), with HIS machete and stick. There´s much more clearing to do, but this particular morning made a great dent in it...

....Ches and Kevin, your tent will be there in the newly cleared yard. Anyway, when the sun climbed a bit higher, that was enough of that.

Along ambled Omar up our little hill, with a big bandage on his toe. There I was with a big bandage on my thumb. Both of us, it seems, had cut off the ends of our respective digits. Neither of us could go in the water -- so! We grabbed the wheelbarrow and a shovel and some bags and headed down to the river and dug up rich black earth, brought it back up our hill and created a beautiful vegetable garden, complete with high wooden walls and chicken wire over the top (keeping out the pigs, cows, chickens, whatever). Robert and Omar planted rows of spinach and mesclun (mixed greens), and the little plantlings popped up the VERY next day in long rows!

High noon. Folks disappeared to cool shady places, and I worked on my next children´s book about the ants...

Same day, a bit later, Robert tormented the little kitten with de-flea-ing and de-mite-ing it which was not a quick operation... The kitty got so tired of objecting that by the end, he actually fell asleep while the process went on.

Next! All right!! WATER! We never know when water will begin flowing through our hoses but there it was. Immediately, we filled up both of our brand'new water tanks (gosh, ease in bathing with buckets, ease in washing clothes and dishes.... WATER!).... and there was such a quantity pouring in that all the kids -- who had by then returned to watch the gringos and of course to play Jenga, and play with whatever other toys I always bring down for them -- well, they all decided to wash our brown car and find out what color it really is. It´s a greenish-blue. Who knew?

Time for a break. Break out the watermelon. Great feasting.

Gringo soup (hecho por Roverto, who is a GREAT soup'maker) was shared by all. The kids actually really like Robert´s cooking very much.... But then they go off for the tortillas and whatever else their moms are making -- and off they went.

In the cool dark of early evening (if 9pm is early---well, in the village it IS early, though to Robert and me, it is legal to go to bed) -- anyway, in the cool dark, we decided to spend the next 2-3 hours visiting with Jesus (hay-SUS) Pompa and Francisco...

These two men gather every single evening to sing all the old corridas -- long story'songs of the Mexican tradition -- in the style of "Out in the west Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican maid..." -- really beautiful heart-tugging songs. Jesus is a tiny and old, bent man with a cane for whom walking is a painful necessity. He plays a beat-up old guitar, his bent'up old fingers running all over the keyboard, and he sings the sweet high harmonies. Francisco is much younger, probably a good many years younger than me, and formerly a scuba diver for fish, all along the west coast of Mexico, now happily retired in the village. He has a beautiful, haunting deep voice that gets so very tender at times it can bring tears to your eyes.

It was on this short sweet walk in the dark from our house to that of Jesus, that we were greeted by the young folk: "!!Hi, homeys!!"

By the way, the waves have been really really big and great even for boogie'boarders.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Is something retrograde somewhere?

Apparently SOMETHING is retrograde. Our friend Matilde can recount a similar list of, um, mishaps. I'll make it quick and in order:

* I got swimmer's ear my first and only day in the water, which to the uninitiated, feels like you have some severe infection in your brain that is tunneling in deeper and deeper. Easily cured once you get the proper, easily available drops. We have them now. It is cured.

* The next day I cut off the tip of my thumb while cutting down strangling vines from one of our mango trees. It is healing nicely, no infection, but the tip-flap is pure white so it will be interesting to see what I get when it is all finished. Keeps me out of the sea, though.

* Our playful little boy-kitty gets confused as to just where he's supposed to go to the bathroom so he needs watching just now...

* By the way, the worst news is that cappuchinos now cost MORE for LESS than you get in Durango. Nothing wrong with drinking instant Nescafe with instant milk, I always say.

* The dramas in Gringolandia/Beachside are too much like a soap opera with an ever-changing cast of characters.  Not worth the pixels.

Enough!!  I hear the waves are great.  Lots of people on 'em.  Time to head back to the beach.  I can at least wade, and cool down, til my thumb heals.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cha-ne-ke/Latin Soul/Anthropology

(1) CHANEKE (pronounced "cha-NEHkeh")

Okay, it just happened, okay? We didn't ask for this.

Our second night here, we were sitting in the gentle twilight on our porch and little Ariana (our perennial shadow) slipped in through the gentling darkness and slowly lowered something into my arms.... something warm and fuzzy.

So now we have a new kitten. This little guy looks almost exactly like our lost Corazon (see posts "The Very Heart of Christmas" and "Alas, Corazon) and is in fact, a descendent -- a nephew of Corazon., the son of Corazon's littermate.  Tiny little loving creature, he even has a heart on the same side that Corazon had a furry patterned heart!  And, he has an unmistakable heart in the coloration of his nose, too.  He fit right into our lives, discovered all the same safe hiding places around our house that Corazon used to use, loves the same toys (knotted plastic bags, wood chips, a suspended string with a knot). And we plan to bring him back, of course.

We named him Cha-ne'-ke (cha-NAYkay) -- a delightful name that makes all the locals laugh with delight. The Chaneke are little Leprechaun-like creatures that live along the waterways of Mexico. Some people are afraid of them, but from the laughter, I think most folks get a kick out of the idea of them. Our Chaneke was born on the beach.

As for Latin Soul! Love it. There I was, surrounded by kids on our porch all involved in the various projects I've collected for kids (drawing, Jenga, building blocks, 3-D projects...) and two young girls were with me wanting to sing.

I reminded them of the French cathedrals round from last visit and we did a few rounds of that and I noticed the words were changing from "Orleans" on to "Vendome" and becoming: "Tenedor, Cuchara, Cuchillo para cortar, Un Vaso, Un Vaso" --(fork, spoon, knife for cutting, a glass, a glass) --and by then, they'd had ENOUGH of this "pinche gringo" music --

.....and burst into a rousing round (complete with body dancing while still suspended in hammocks) of "La Cucaracha" only again, the words were changed:
"Roberto loco, Roberto loco, no se puede a nadar, porque no tiene, porque le falta, tabla para surfiar!" (Crazy Robert, crazy, Robert, cannot go to swim, because he doesn't have, because he's missing, a surfboard for surfing)

I'm glad I'm not still bound by the tenets of first'year anthropology where you visit a foreign culture and do not interfere but simply coolly observe... but I'm working out how to, um, intervene a bit. One morning a crew came over, and one mom along with her 18-month old son, Damian. Damian has been here without her, in the arms of older siblings, and all has been calm... But THIS visit really took us both by surprise....

There was a minor altercation between Damian and our Shadow, Ariana . The MOTHER picked up Damian,carried him over to Ariana and told him to HIT her and to BITE her! Numerous times she instructed him, and he obeyed. She was laughing all the while and Robert and I watched in hidden horror....

I thought of saying something, but don' want to undermine a mother.... so my solution is simple. In fact, I'e already set up the mood for it.... I keep a conscious awareness of the energy among the kids, and maintain a sort of Buddhist calmness in the air. This works.

One catch-phrase that spontaneously came out of my mouth to intercept a snooty interchange between the boys and the girls was "Cuida su corazon..." -- "Watch your heart...."

Oh... and the waves were GREAT for the first few days. We're in a bit of a lull just now, so today is a town trip. Adios, amigos....

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Del Rio, TX > La casita...

Let us now sing the praises of a border town!
Who knew, when we were stopped at the Mexican customs for missing papers for our CAR, that we would enjoy what has always looked to be a hellacious strip-town of malls and cheap tourist shops . We had at least a day/overnight waiting for FedEx'd papers (which did come promptly, thank you SO much Terry and Char).

The name TELLS us that the town has something to offer -- (by the river) -- and thanks to their Chamber of Commerce we spent a most mellow, cool day sleeping on picnic tables under vast spreading branches of cool trees, birds calling gently overhead, and then wading in pure cool water only some yards from where it pours forth from the earth.

There are, in fact, TWO pure fresh-water springs bubbling forth a short distance apart, so there are TWO little rivers flowing side by side... one is great for wading, and the other is where the brave teen'aged boys leap and dive from rather high bridges. It is a community park, all locals relaxing and laughing and picnicking -- and us.

Of the museums we did not bother to visit, one stands out for its uniqueness... A museum to one bodacious quack doctor who said he could perform a simple operation that would totally restore the virility of men -- and performed it often... If I recall correctly, he did indeed insert the gonads of goats into the gonads of men. The leaflet that advertised the museum continued with all the other quackery performed by this wealthy fake -- but never mentioned whether or not the potency of his patients was improved --nor did it mention whether or not they even survived...I would have thought that such would be of prime interest to readers.

Sing praises also to the iPod -- our latest concession to the digital age. Still no cell'phone but we really love how tiny the iPod is and how much music and how many books'on'iPod it can hold and still be only a quarter full. NO huge container of CDs at my feet anymore.

And sing praises to our vecinos en nuestro pueblo... our village neighbors who DID water our bugambilias (Spanish for the French bougainevilleas), and the Copa de Oro flowering plants --and planted MORE flowering plants around the porch. We were greeted with so much color...

...and ten months of dust and dead flower petals blown into our casita. THings are in order, just need unpacking and cleaning up. Whew.

Only one small biting ant nest, easily stamped. One small nest of our favorite spiders --terrifying to look at-- but devourers of cucarachas. For those who haven't seen our photos of the Madre Alacran, these spiders are, with legs normally positioned at least 8" across. Her body is also big AND she sports huge arms like those of a Praying Mantis, spikes and all!! (Mother of Scorpions is what her name means) Both her mouth and her armtips contain poison when they close on you.

We have never even felt threatened by them. They hide under things, on walls, wherever, and are ferocious hunters. Robert has entertained himself from time to time by wounding a cockroach and putting it, on the tip of a spear, where the Madre Alacran's (12") feelers can find it. What an incredible drama ensues. The moment she feels/senses food she goes into a crouch and very stealthily makes her way in a circular pattern towards her prey -- one feeler always pinpointing its location. Once within striking distance --WHAM-- the prey is grabbed by the claws, stung, and pulled to her mouth, stung again and immediately devoured.

We were in the ocean by late afternoon and the wave were perfect. And spent the evening among friends in the village. Simpatico...

One thing to comment on is that the recession is here in Mexico, too. The father of our favorite family is the mayor of the town as well -- and he said that for the past four months, there have been NO FISH in the sea. Our village is a village of fishermen. They are all hurting, seriously. And there's not much building going on, so no alternate income. The mayor pulled the pockets of his shorts inside out -- no dinero/no money. And it was obvious that everyone is having a hard time. On the road to our shopping town, too, we see empty lumber yards and other businesses nearly empty, too.... We can help a little, hiring local friends to help build our outdoor kitchen etc...

And there is just a lot of camaraderie built from years of friendship among us. Glad to be here.

love to you all, Sarita y Roverto

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mexico Preview (pix!)...

Thanks for dropping by.

We're just about to drive off to our digs in Mexico -- and since I don't know how to post pix on the blog while we're down there, here are a few from visits past, to give you a sense of it all...

For instance, here's a photo from the early days when we camped in the (ripe) mango grove.  A mix of villagers and Durangotans pose (Robert on the left).  The surfin' waves are in the background, but first we have to cross the river wherein this crocodile was found!  He swam too close to the salty water mixed in with river water and so died.  We always cross where the salty water mixes heavily with the river water....

The year after the crocodile surprise, we bought our little village casita and melted right in with the folks who live in the village -- and of course, particularly the kids.  Every spring is kite season, and the kids often gather on our porch to make their own unique kite creations out of sticks and old plastic bags.  And these kites FLYYYYYyyyyyy!!A rare view of our porch, with nothing on it.  We had just newly plastered and painted it.  It will fill up with hammocks, a hand-made (beautiful) table and bench made by Robert, and whatever projects we might be onto at the time.  It's a busy place, this porch.  The rooms serve mostly as storage -- but they too are finished and painted cheerful colors.  It's just so nice to be outside on the porch!
This photo, oh THIS photo---this photo reminds us of all the work awaiting us.  Hopefully the yellow flowering vine ("copa de oro") that we planted last spring will have climbed up that wall...  But we have to install that big water tank you see there on the back of our trusty-dusty car--which means we also have to get electricity wired over to us, too.  And our back porch (we extended that roof over it earlier) needs to have its floor cemented (by us).  You can see the pile of rubble/rocks that will go at the bottom as we hand-mix and pour the cement into the mold we'll have to build.  Our visit ain't all surfin'!  But it's livin', and we do love it.  To the right of the casita is one of the four (4!) mango trees on our property that will be dropping big ripe mangos every day while we're there this time.
So....  the next post will be from our digs in Mexico (well, the nearest rent-a-computer place).  In between the hard work, we'll be melting in with our friends in the village, playing with the kids,  sharing meals with friends, and singing with the traditional guitarist down the road at night...  Oh, and surfing (Robert),  and boogie-boarding (that would be me).    Our experience here is not a vacation...  It's a slice of life that we treasure.  Peace!  Sara y Roverto