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.


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


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.