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! 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!