Somewhere in the vast pile of notebooks sitting somewhere in a room back in Durango, are the essays I wrote, whilst swinging in a hammock, describing our very first days of living in the Little Salty Place village here in Mexico...
One poignant entry, as I recall, simply listed all the services that literally come to you -- even as you swing tranquilly in your hammock. These are the traveling salesmen, walking the long dusty roads from the highway, each of which leads to little villages tucked away near some freshwater springs or rivers or beaches. Our little place, for example, is close to five miles in, with only one other village halfway between.
Without that list, what I can recall is that these wares include the likes of fresh baked bread, fresh-killed chickens and iguanas, eggs, home-made cheese rounds, woven mats for your floor, hammocks, silverware and dishware, clothes for all ages, furniture of all kinds and sizes, blankets, bolts of cloth....
One poignant story glows in my memory...
Here was a sweet little family of three -- young mom, young dad, and their son of about five. Together, they had been pushing their wheelbarrow of wares all this way from the highway. Piled precariously atop were handcarved and handwoven child-sized chairs -- little rocking chairs.... Something for which we had no use.
But ah, Robert had something for them!
With a flashing grin, he winked at the little boy and brought from our storeroom a child-sized bicycle! "Para ti," he said as he gently pushed the bike towards him.
As you can imagine, they could not believe what Robert was offering. They said they had no money to buy it. Robert replied that it is a gift, at no cost, to them. The wife looked at me, woman to woman, and whispered, "Is this a joke?"
But no, it was not a joke.
You can well imagine their beaming faces, and the bouncing gait of the little boy as he wheeled his bike around to a level place where he could mount it. Zooooom!!!!
For years, we had been bringing down bicycles of all sizes -- which Robert would spruce up and then give out to the various kids in the village and nearby. We no longer do that for a number of reasons, but the most telling reason is the border crossing. For reasons important to the border guards, we are now required to pay a rather hefty fee for bringing any such gifts into Mexico (clothes included.... we also used to bring several boxes of clothes for all ages).
Ah, but I digress.
The era of such traveling salesfolk trundling up the path to our porch.... has ended. Oh, occasionally a local villager will stop by with perhaps a round of cheese or a fresh-baked bread (from their home-made horno), but it is not the same.
An era has ended.
But you know what!!?? There's a new service I just noticed... as I lay in my hammock one morning, I saw it happen.
This is a big deal, folks. No more seeking out waste cans in town, wherein we surreptitiously cram small bags. We now have a weekly garbage pickup. Just set your trash bags out by the road, and this big old rumbling truck comes by and heaves it into the back. Every Tuesday, at about 9:30am. Gratis.