Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Marina Vendetta. The other day our neighbor Fred, owner of Mi Sueño, presented us with two moldy quiches—which puzzled us until we remembered the moldy cigar we’d given him a couple of months ago. “I thought I’d wiped all the mold off that cigar,” Adam mused. “Maybe he didn’t notice the mold on the quiches,” I suggested. “That’s probably what he thought about us when we gave him the cigar,”responded Adam.

One thing I love about some of the locals is the way, when they see you doing something odd, instead of looking at you like, What the &@*# are you doing? they often offer encouragement and even assistance. One day I decided that the trip to the bathroom in the big palapa at the end of the dock was too long. There’s a chain link fence that separates me from the bathroom and I have to walk all the way around it and through a gauntlet of (nice, but still) security guys. Then I realized that I could go under the fence instead. So I was peeling up a rusting stretch of chain link, and a man walking through the gate to the marina stopped to hold it up while I lay on the ground and rolled under. Thank you, I said. It was nothing, he responded. Marina officials quickly put a potted miniature palm tree in that spot, but that has not deterred me! Another time I was taking a pile of dirty dishes up to wash in the sink in the palapa, because of course we still don’t have water near the boat. Tallulah’s strapped on so I can’t roll under the fence, but I shove the dirty dishes under. A very neat, nicely dressed man heading for the Grand Bay Hotel—fancy establishment on the other side of the lagoon—stopped, once again, to lift the fence for me. “De nada,” he said, the soul of politeness, when I thanked him. Arriving in the bathroom with my stack of nasty dishes, I set the baby down in one of the sinks and started washing. Eventually I chanced to look at myself in the mirror and realized that I had a stripe of diaper cream down my nose and two across my cheeks like a surfer. A word of explanation—I figured out that diaper cream is good sunscreen—for use on both faces, as Adam would say! And then there was the time that I was, once again, making unauthorized use of the palapa bathroom. I’d had the brainwave that I could bathe Tallulah there, rather than lying on a towel on the counter, a precarious encounter she’s grown to fear and despise. Unfortunately it was night, and the water was only F. Suddenly she’s freezing, what do I do? Need to get the soap out of her hair. Lay her on the counter (after all) with head over sink and try to rinse. Shivering she reaches for me and wants to nurse. Ok, I pick her up and we’re sort of suspended there nursing with baby stuff everywhere when I hear someone coming. Yes, someone is headed in the direction of the door marked “Mujeres. “Hola,” I say, as the woman, an employee of the CaboBlanco Hotel, enters. She smiles, does her thing in stall number 1. When she comes out I try to explain—like, we don’t have any water on the dock, uh. She makes some disparaging comment about the marina. “Yes, this is much better,” she tells me, smiling. “Adios, princesa!” she says to Tallulah, who waves at her retreating back.
I’ve been trying to think how to describe living with a small child on a small boat, you know, one without a bathroom or running water. Sounds alien and maybe even impossible. But we just do it.

The traveling hypnotist show has come to town. Performances under a big top every night. Loudspeakers blare Celine Dion and Eric Clapton and offer “dos por uno” admission. We walk by on our way to the beach. The carneys are watching cable tv under a smaller blue tent and their jeans, all different shapes and sizes, are hanging on a long clothesline. Laura, Mexican girlfriend of Bob the sailmaker, talks of taking her eight-year-old daughter to the show to be cured of her inattentiveness at school—a kind of public cleansing, demons released in front of the crowd. It sounds like something that would happen on an evangelical television show. Adam reports that, while the subjects are under hypnosis, the hypnotist introduces the idea that they’re afraid of lions. Then as they leave the stage, he roars like a lion. Apparently the crowds think this is hilarious.

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