Friday, December 26, 2008

Bahía Chamela






Thank you Raymond of s/v "Fool's Gold" for these photos.

Sea Wolf in Tenacatita



Thanks to Vicki and John of m/v "Low Maintenance" for this photo.

Northerlies

Christmas day, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
Christmas has gotten weirder and weirder. Now we’ve begun to collect icons: a Virgin of Guadalupe, La Guardia—a blond angel watching over children crossing a rickety bridge—an Italianate Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus with an Oración por las Familias printed on the back. Lulu, as she’s begun to call herself, bites it and says “baba, baba.” She loves pictures of other babies. We’re not feeling particularly religious, just kinda lonely.

Christmas Eve, Puerto Vallarta
Walking toward the corner where we planned to meet after a spontaneous hour of Christmas shopping, in a papeleria for streamers, a candy store for bright foil chocolates and the Telas Parisina for sequined and glittery ribbon, I passed an office set into the steep hillside, faded olive green chairs in an empty waiting room, the walls covered with portraits—a lowering doctor wearing huge square glasses holding newborn twins by their feet, faces red and swollen with birth, a woman’s white, emptied abdomen at the edge of the frame. On the other side of the room was a soft, pale Jesus and a young man holding out his arms to measure a prize dorado suspended on a hook, the glistening blue bay in the distance.

December 20, Tehuamixtle
I got sick, too sick to move for a couple of days. It must have been food poisoning. The evening of the third day we up-anchored and sailed toward Cabo Corrientes. We'd try to round the cape, then curve toward the top of Banderas Bay. That morning a wind began to blow hard from the north. We hove to and waited for it to change, tossing in a heaving, spray flying, churning factory of wind. On the second day we turned back. Fast through the swell toward Tehuamixtle again, the implacable drip of leaks in the deck. We went to a hotel. The room had four beds, all with bright red satin coverlets, and buckets of fake flowers rooted in sand. Next door we found Socorro cooking enchiladas and fishermen sitting in chairs overlooking the bay, watching kids bag oysters on the dock. She was padded, quiet and smiling, heating oil in a pan, pollo deshebrado marinating in chile sauce. “Socorro—what does it mean?” Adam asked. “I don’t know what it means,” she said thoughtfully. I think to myself, I looked that word up recently. We eat plates of enchiladas and sopes and drink agua de lima. “Whenever you are hungry, come and I will feed you,” Socorro tells us. Socorro—it means succor.

December 14, un restaurante de mariscos, Punta Perula
La dueña and her daughter waited with me at a table under the palapa. They showed me their cross-stitch. Pillowcases--a bouquet of red roses, a pair of bluebirds. Mi Amor. They brought the finished covers out from a room behind the kitchen, smelling of mildew. Contigo duermo en el cielo. “I also made one with turkeys,” the señora tells me. “Turkeys are so beautiful.” The women tell me in Spanish the colors of the yarn—tinto, verde de caña, verde de banderas—unfurling patterns stitched while waiting for customers, watching the light on the water, boats rocking in the swell. “There was a one-eyed man who used to come here,” the old woman says. “He was from pa’alla”—up there—the curve of her fingers taking in the United States. “He came for years, but I haven’t seen him in a long time. I suppose he’s never coming back.” Love, I dream with you—stitched in the blue of the sky, above an arbor of roses, a wine-red heart.



PS sorry for the lack of visual stimuli, our camera succumbed to our gritty lifestyle and is holding our photos hostage for now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Invasive species

Careyes

December 9
After a full day of sailing and a night rocking on the hook, we hauled ourselves up on the beach amphibiously, ready for breakfast. Our cruising guide mentioned that the restaurant under the palapa had been founded by a Frenchwoman, conjuring images of pain au chocolat and café au lait served in bowls that fit perfectly in your cool morning hands. But at that moment it was closed. As we stood wondering, another couple walked onto the sand carrying blankets. They looked local and I strode over. The woman told me that the restaurant wouldn’t be open til lunch, but recommended the hotel across the way. While we chatted I started thinking to myself that she looked familiar. In fact, she looked exactly like Alice Walker. I didn’t remember what she’d said her name was. I didn’t even remember her telling me her name, though she must have because I remembered telling her mine. Why do I always remember saying my own name and not hearing other people’s? I went ahead and asked: what did you say your name was? Alice, she replied. Because you look exactly like Alice Walker, I said, in what I hoped was a non-invasive, relaxed kind of way. Well, she said, I am. She didn’t seem to want to get into the whole thing, and we had a nice conversation about boats and turtles and she told us that one of her names was Tallulah, which she knew to mean "basketweaver." We went and had a delicious breakfast at the hotel, and when we came back she was gone.

December 10
This afternoon the basketweaver refused to nap, preferring instead to help the groundskeeper pick alien grasses. She’s wondering what you’re doing, I said, as T grabbed a chunk of lawn and ran over to him. Oh, there is a plague, he told us, holding up a handful of leafy runners. I have to pick all these little grasses out of the lawn. In a serious tone he related that some people who'd stayed in the third casita there went out to the polo grounds, and their shoes picked up seeds that had been brought by the horses, who you know go wandering around out in the pasture god knows where. And now, he said, they might have to replace it all--this whole expanse of perfectly clipped, indistinguishable green.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shaking off a brief episode of Cruisebummers, I witnessed Tallulah going about her usual activities: rowing the dinghy, watching pelicans and frigate birds diving off the stern, eating avocados, playing in the sand, swimming, becoming bilingual--poco a poco--and being adored by both parents and scores of Mexicans, who think it is so totally cool that she's one of them. So, for anyone--mom!--who is worried about the dangers of our sailing with a baby, let me say that any dangers are nothing compared to the IQ points she's gaining. Yes, every day is another opportunity for her to fall overboard, but equally is it an opportunity for her to learn not to. Life is chock full of child-centered goodness these days. Whew. I'm exhausted.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008











We're thinking of sailing soon, maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day. The ladies who make tortas say, Ay, Luna! Stay with us. Someone behind me in line at the grocery store tries to teach her a new word: Coco. Coco. Coco. Coco. The next day, baby says Coco. Adios! She waves and wanders off. Bye-bye! Wait, we say, as Adam's mom and stepdad fly on to Colorado. Wait. What are we doing here? Where are we going?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Flecha Caída

Oscar slumped in an armchair in a corner of the room. He watched the men looking awkward but eager in their stiff jeans, the women affecting bandannas around their necks and pert western hats on their way out to pose against the rails of the corral, he supposed—a few kids running around outside in leather chaps, just bought at the outfitters in town. It was swell. People came here from back east because they were sick. To pretend they were Gary Cooper, Dale Evans, maybe even Cochise or Geronimo—he didn’t know or care. He was here to do a job.

It had taken him precisely 203 hours to travel to this outpost in the American desert. Women boarding the bus, crying “Arroz y gallina!,” men with cases of patent medicines, even clowns doing their hackneyed routine for spare change. Jalisco, Nayarit, Sinaloa, Sonora. Leaving the ocean behind, the air grew so dry that he choked on it.

And maybe he was sick. He felt dull in the heat that descended from heaven and rose again with a great bounce. He’d let himself think he’d grow old on the coast of Jalisco. Might as well admit he’d imagined himself in Maria’s soft arms, fleshier now that they had the boy and the girl—it was a pathetic dream. He shoved it roughly aside.

His partner, Jones, had cabled him at the hotel where he’d holed up in Puerto Vallarta—BOY DEAD AT RANCH STOP CAN YOU TAKE CASE STOP And what else was there. Perhaps one death would erase another.

Mostly he wished he were anywhere but in the corner of this low-ceilinged, wood-beamed, white-plastered room with the leather chairs that were supposed to say something like “gaucho” when you sat in them. When you sat in them, you were waiting for something.

The manager of the Flecha Caída came up, rubbing his palms. The man was short, an eastern type, like a marshmallow. Could be he came out west himself to take a cure, found a demand for his bookkeeping skills, maybe not much to go back to in Des Moines or Scranton or wherever it was he came from. Oscar straightened up. The man’s eyes were sliding around the room. When he finally looked at Oscar it was only for a second, literally one second, and then they slipped south again, veered over to the entrance to the dining room, then went out the window. Oscar filed it away. The guy probably knew something.

He was bursting with nerves as he led Oscar up a worn path, prickly pear and teddy bear cholla and sage stretching toward the Catalinas. There in a clearing, hummingbirds buzzing around the saguaro, was a little cabin. Mr. Elmer knocked on the door like a man used to knocking on doors behind which something was going on that whoever was doing it didn’t want him knowing about. There was no answer. He pulled the correct key from his pocket and opened it. There was a narrow stairway just to the right. Mr. Elmer looked at those stairs like he was looking at a snake with an open mouth. He gestured to Oscar, go on up. Didn’t want to be seen from behind, maybe.

Oscar eased into a room under the eaves. That’s where it happened, and nobody knew why. A few 45s illuminated by a single bare bulb, a program from a high school play wedged between the floorboards, a paperback western in the closet behind two single mattresses, and a boy, not even sixteen years old, hanging from a frayed lariat.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What does Tallulah think?










A late connection out of Tucson and we missed our flight from LA to Guadalajara. At the Mexicana desk, we stood before a harried woman in blue eyeshadow, our last resort. Ay! She muttered, rushing away. The baby as prop. Patient gringo. She found us an Aeromexico red-eye that night. Milagro. We rented a car in the urban dawn and got lost only once, driving briskly, sleep-deprived, into the part of the city that they call something like El Bosque. We’ve misplaced the map again. Thank you, Joni, for hosting us--Guadalajara feels like home.

The ETN Lounge at the Guadalajara bus station, an older lady comes in dressed like she remembers the old days of travel. Some crazy rhinestone glasses and pointy black heels and matching jean outfit. Her zipper's down.

We’re discovering the Barra lagoon has a force of gravity all its own. Twice now we never thought we’d be back. The chicken man says, Welcome! It’s good to see you again! Me da gusto.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Mars"



Today we visited a building in Tucson where U of A scientists are orchestrating the latest space hoax--a spaceship on Mars, suuuuuure. We thought it would be educational for Tallulah to see how these kind of games are played with the American public. It was also the last day the place was open to the public before they shipped their demo model off to the Smithsonian. During an animated video (why couldn’t they show us the real video????) we caught glimpses of several tells.



Notice the green rope clearly visible in our un-doctored photo. Case closed.

Here’s the take home: if we can pretend to put a man on the moon and a robot on Mars, surely we can build a real car that gets 300mpg.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Clowns freak me out.

One adult free. See the zoo on the midway. A line undulating out of the darkness, toward those bright lights that say—over here—no, over here—camel rides and elephants, popcorn, feed the goats, dare to let that albino python writhe across your shoulders. Women spinning among a hundred hula hoops; muscled, spangled men upside down--where did they come from, why are they here, above the cheering crowd and the dust of the battered big top? One by one they slip down the velvet rope, push aside the rough silver cloth that hides the exit—on to Gilbert, Yuma, Bakersfield.
By now it's a familiar drill--selling stuff, packing up. So the country's on the verge of a recession. Time to head for the border. Batten down the hatches. Look out, Sea Wolf.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jessica's thirty-eighth birthday

Do years have twins, like sister cities--odd pairings, no clear relation? I woke up around ten, my bangs too short. I cut them myself with nail scissors in the bathroom mirror. Then I took a long, fast walk, hoping the breeze I stirred up would set things right. And in the fall, with our newly single father, accumulating things at the Saturday market, windchimes, hackeysacks, elephant ears, the weight of the river--if I had only known. Sitting here, my hair just cut, soft tufts on the kitchen floor--will I look back and think, how perfect?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Flecha Caída

Oscar slumped in an armchair in a corner of the room. He watched the men looking awkward but eager in their stiff jeans, the women affecting bandannas around their necks and pert western hats on their way out to pose against the rails of the corral, he supposed—a few kids running around outside in leather chaps, just bought at the outfitters in town. It was swell. People came here from back east because they were sick. To pretend they were Gary Cooper, Dale Evans, maybe even Cochise or Geronimo—he didn’t know or care. He was here to do a job.

It had taken him precisely 203 hours to travel to this outpost in the American desert. Women boarding the bus, crying “Arroz y gallina!,” men with cases of patent medicines, even clowns doing their hackneyed routine for spare change. Jalisco, Nayarit, Sinaloa, Sonora. Leaving the ocean behind, the air grew so dry he choked on it.

And maybe he was sick. He felt dull in the heat that descended from heaven and rose again with a great bounce. He’d let himself think he’d grow old on the coast of Jalisco. Might as well admit he’d imagined himself in Maria’s soft arms, fleshier now that they had the boy and the girl—it was a pathetic dream. He shoved it roughly aside.

His partner, Jones, had cabled him at the hotel where he’d holed up in Puerto Vallarta—BOY DEAD AT RANCH STOP CAN YOU TAKE CASE STOP And what else was there. Perhaps one death would erase another.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

We thought it was time to have some professional photos done. We got dressed up, got our hair and nails done. We went with the “artistic” black and white package…


Thursday, August 28, 2008

This taskmaster, found at the local St. Vincent de Paul, made me think of stocky Germanic women in surgical white gowns, patients screaming on the tables as they expertly unkinked vertebrae and battered quadriceps. The inventors of breakfast cereals and Pilates--machine love affairs, strange newfangled things with springs, levers and chutes. Slender, unmuscled weaklings would shed their carapaces and burst forth, shining beacons of modernity.

A guy saw me with my camera aimed and said, “This is really something, isn’t it?” Me: “Yeah, that’s why I had to come back and take a picture of it.” The guy: “I wonder if you could run your whole house on this. Or at least your TV. There’s gotta be some way to reverse it.” Me: "Why don't you go ahead and ride it?" He tries to plug it in, but the woman behind the cash register tells him she thinks it’s broken. He tries to take a picture, but he forgot to recharge the battery on his camera. We go our separate ways, inspired, perhaps, to slow down, take it easy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

first step's a doozy

video

Doing the Charleston

blaze of glory
wise counsel
verisimilitude
proposal

quadrilateral
pluffmudmobile
gentlemen, start your engines

Sunday, July 27, 2008

AZ OD

Our Arizona odyssey--it began with some confusion. Adam's mom, Donna, and sister Chloe were coming to visit. It's hot here. Donna doesn't sweat. We live in a two-room apartment. Tucson is kinda dead in the summer. Our baby hates the car. Gas prices. We got some food and started driving.

Oracle Road used to be the main route to Phoenix. One day--October 12, 1940--the dashing silent movie star Tom Mix died along this road. His heyday was over. No one talks about why he was bound for Phoenix. I think of him getting into his car, bored and restless, headed for a bar he knew. Maybe play some cards.

In the official version of his death, he gets hit in the head with a suitcase flying out of the back seat of his 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton. Local legend, in the form of our real estate agent Alex, has it that "his spirit left his body," as it says on the memorial marker, while receiving a blow job from a Tucson prostitute. You can have a picnic near the site, out in the middle of a scorched stretch of desert.


In Scottsdale we stopped at the Sugar Bowl for root beer floats and a thing called a Golden Nugget that tasted just like orange sherbet, since orange sherbet was its main ingredient. Shouldn't something called a Golden Nugget be more exciting than that, even though all by itself sherbet suggests to me time travel--travel, to be precise, back to the late 1970s, when my sister and I used to watch "The Brady Bunch," before we became part of a couple of "blended" families ourselves, before all those child actors developed drug problems? It was even hotter in Scottsdale than it was in Tucson.

We sped through traffic and road construction and whatever else lay in our path on our way to Arcosanti, a living experiment north of Phoenix begun by architect Paolo Soleri. He wanted to design a place where ecology and high-concept architecture merged to provide an antidote to the thing Phoenix is, or should be, most known for: sprawl. We stayed in guest cubicles overlooking a peaceful mesa, a group of tiny houses among the trees where a white peacock stalked across garden plots. We vied for vegan brownies with 21st century hippies in the dining hall. Night brought loud opera and interpretive shadow dancing.

Arcosanti supports itself by selling bells made from ceramic and cast bronze. Kind of a jolie-laide thing.

After a night at a motel in Williams, we saw the Grand Canyon for the first time. Actually, that's not true. I've seen it so many times in pictures, it's become impossible to take in the "real" thing. Someone else has theorized this phenomenon, it's not an original thought, but that doesn't make it any easier to get out of my head. I'm standing here, listening to a bunch of European languages, and I just can't see the Grand Canyon, not really. All I can do is fear it.

People do fall in--apparently about six a year. Adam was not one of them.

We all wanted to see Sedona. Chloe told us about the vortexes--vortices--whatever. We went to a Goodwill located in a strip mall beneath a majestic red rock formation. Someone tried to get me to visit a time share at a golf resort. We circumambulated the Amitabha Stupa, offering up prayers for the good of all beings, thereby benefiting ourselves, but I reminded myself that, despite the current strange state of my life, benefiting myself was not the point. Actually, it was pretty uplifting. At the vortex, some life coach was telling a woman she shouldn't feel guilty about how she'd raised her daughter. But we all know how ridiculous that is.

At the cliff dwelling erroneously called Montezuma's Castle, we listened to a pre-recorded voice inviting us to imagine ourselves back in 1300 or so, when the hillside was a warren of human activity. It still was--complete with cheesy voice-over, paved paths, sweaty tourists, and squirrels carrying bubonic plague.

At Taliesin West, we understood why they call Frank Lloyd Wright a genius. "Take care of the luxuries, and let the necessities take care of themselves." Enough said.

Thank you, Donna and Chloe!