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.

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