Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Further adventures in maternidad

Yeah, we're going first class.

Taxi shrine

It's hard to get up at 9 am.

They say the CEO of Telmex is the second richest man in the world.

"La Linea más Cómoda."

Thanks to my new friend Susanna, a tiny Italian woman who always wears thong bathing suits under her sarongs, I can now have a conversation in Spanish. Susanna talks to everyone, and in her three and half years in Mexico has become fluent. Her blond two-year-old in tow, she gives hell when necessary to the construction workers remodeling the space where she and her husband will open their restaurant in the fall. She knows the names of waiters. She swears in Italian and translates for me with a laugh: she has just told her daughter that the little girl is “breaking her balls.” Susanna says with tears in her eyes that pregnant women are the most beautiful women in the world.

In Guadalajara, five hours away by bus, there’s a midwifery clinic where you can have your baby in a big pool of water. Adam plans to teach this seagoing baby to swim before she can walk. Lying on our bed under the fan surrounded by mystifying piles of square pieces of cloth—what are you supposed to do with these things?—we try to imagine washing diapers at sea.

We set off to attend the orientation at the clinic. Our neighbors have warned us: don’t take the bus that goes through Aútlan. But we take the bus that goes through Aútlan. It lumbers along tiny winding roads high in the mountains. From my seat by the window I look out over sheer drop-offs, fighting nausea and morbid fantasies of this clumsy piece of metal rolling down the cliff and exploding. We get stuck repeatedly behind trucks hauling their cargo slowly, painfully up the hill. I distract myself watching the dubbed version of “Garfield 2" playing on the video monitor.

At the little hospital that houses the clinic, the presentation is all in Spanish but since my knowledge of Spanish is heavily weighted toward pregnancy/medical terminology, I can get most of it. The midwife has generously offered us a room in her house. We stay up late reading stupid books again. The next morning she joins us over breakfast to chat about our lives and plans for the baby and she is full of information and energy and I start thinking maybe I can do this. We talk about taking our baby on a small boat across the Pacific and ask if she has any suggestions about where to actually put the baby. She asks, “Do you have a drawer?” We do have a drawer!

At the bus station we buy our return tickets on the ETN line, La Linea más Cómoda. From the waiting room to the legroom, this is definitely muy cómoda. Unfortunately our seats are all the way in the back next to the bathroom and the door of the bathroom is broken. It flies open at random releasing smells and leaving people inside clutching at the miniature doorknob. Anyway, I recline with my headphones to enjoy a dubbed version of “Brubaker,” a 1980 film set in a Southern prison and starring Robert Redford. The details are fuzzy since my headphones aren’t working too well.

The militares board the bus at a roadblock and walk all the way to the back. A man wearing camouflage and holding a machine gun demands our passports. Adam understands it’s safer to speak English; startled out of my reverie, I tell him in Spanish that our passports are in Barra but I do have a driver’s license. He squeezes my neglected Ziploc bag of knitting, says “OK,” and leaves. On a trip to get blood tests I've already been kidnapped by an off-duty taxi driver who insisted on exploring Manzanillo and picking up and dropping off acquaintances while reassuring me, "I'm a friend," and "I love American women. Later, you must call Jimmy Boy. I will pick you up anywhere for free." The militares are as nothing to me.

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