Monday, October 29, 2007

Por acá


Our local coconuts

Discovering a sign on a nearby house that reads (in both Spanish and English), “I am home between 2 and 4. I hope you are too” has got me wondering about the secret life of Barra. I’m looking for overgrown alleyways, rumors and misinformation. Adam comments that the largest coconut plantation in the world is right here—“I heard that somewhere.” One evening we visit his friend Armando, who lives on a dirt road at the edge of town in a shed filled with wood and tools. A profusion of basil grows up around an abandoned hatchback near the tarp that covers the entrance. The shed verges on an expanse of grass and tall coconut trees. When we arrive, Armando is out hacking down weeds with a machete to reduce the mosquito population in his living space. This evening he is given to sudden, apparently incongruous suggestions. Would we like some fresh bread—very fresh and hot? Turns out he’s heard the approach of the minivan that brings pan dulce and bolillos through the barrio. As dusk falls, we eat rolls and drink milk from plastic cups. When he was a boy, Armando worked husking coconuts—before all the turistas and jubilados (which means retired people!), coconuts were the main industry around here, and their husks were used for charcoal. Armando says that he hears coconuts fall in the night. He machetes some open for us and makes a spoon with the husk to lift out the meat. “Give me this baby and make yourselves another one,” he says tenderly as we consume our coconut, holding her posed in the crook of his arm. The conversation turns to milk, and what happens when cows get into the chiles: leche chileada. I start thinking about the possibilities. Then I wonder if the cows don’t get really uncomfortable. Armando considers the question and offers that if cows find some limes, they won’t eat just one, they will eat a whole tree. So chiles probably don’t bother them either. Later he hikes out into the green and finds the coconut he heard falling last night—a young one, right where he thought it would be.

Doors made by Armando, appreciatively documented by Adam

How do you say...?


What time is it?



The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven—


El frutero! Me asombra usted!
No conozco ningún frutero.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Family vacation

We're not in Canada anymore!

Group cannonball
Jicama asserting squatter's rights. Its continuous, notorious and hostile presence means there's a real possibility we will lose title to our fridge. Our current plan is to urge the coconut and vitamins to DO SOMETHING!

A cry for help is answered.
Glow-in-the-dark San Lazaro presides as an angel rushes in where fools fear to tread.

Is she giving us the finger?

On the move

In big ways, and little ways.

"A very comfortable exercise for mother and baby is to put baby in a sling-type carrier and walk for at least one hour every day."
--The Baby Book, William Sears, M.D. & Martha Sears, R.N.

They say this like it's normal and anyone can do it. So not true!

I’ve resorted to walking down the street nursing. Discreetly, of course—sort of. Probably the construction workers I pass know exactly what I’m doing. On the beach near the hotel that marks the border of Villa Obregón, I noticed that the bottom half of the baby’s body was hanging out of her carrier. I was tempted to keep going. “Just a little bit farther!” I remember the time my mom went into the grocery store in Lake Oswego, Oregon, to pick up one thing, leaving my screaming sister and I for the peace of misted fruits and vegetables, the soothing expanse of cereals. I still remember the cart full of big paper bags that finally came squeaking back to the car. I remember walking up and down hardware store aisles, the smell of lumber, metal, and new plastic, while she bought roof tiles or sandpaper or 1 1/4 inch nails. I stop. The baby has a wet diaper. Naked on her blanket, she looks happily up at the sky and listens to a crow in the coconut trees that surround the hotel parking lot, then grabs a fistful of damp morning sand. Suddenly, sand is all over both of us. She needs to eat. I lean back against the chain link fence to feed her, realizing that I’m wearing a really short skirt. Several young men are walking in my direction. She starts to cry, exactly as if we were back at the apartment—I hesitate to call it “home.” But for her, I realize, we are home. I am home.

Sunday, October 14, 2007