How Tolstoy wrote:
A black parrot squawks in a palm tree. It’s cool and the morning sun is still hidden behind the cliff. The high tide swishes and hisses in the cove next to the concrete pier in the small Pacific harbor. Weary fishermen goose their outboards and plow their boats high up onto the sand where local women rush toward the boat while it is still sliding up on the sand and swarm over it, grabbing fish off the floorboards. Mysteriously, I never see any money change hands, but I know these women will catch a ride on a truck nd sell the fish in the big Monday market in Pochutla.
Frigate birds wheel overhead. An Indian woman rushes by with a cell phone slapped to her ear, her other hand holding up one side of a huge plastic tub of fish. Taking orders. Strangely, there are no radios blasting. Just calm voices, muffled by the waves. Girls weave through the crowd, selling ice cream and pineapple turnovers. A baby shrieks. A truck horn bleats.
It’s a very high tide today, and sometimes huge rollers break around the point and toss the boats like toys in a tub. One guy is gutting a fish that’s still slapping its tail. A woman grabs, and holds it still. And slowly comes the sun, tracing palm leaves across the sand, baking off the stinking fish slime, evaporating it into another bright day.
I’m sitting in the shade of the wall by the local “naval base” – the naval base that has no boat of any kind. I’m waiting for the fruit and vegetable store – Frutas y Verduras – to get a delivery. I’m dieting. Heavy dieting. I eat nothing of what I lke and as much as I like of what I don’t like; mostly grapefruit and weedy spinach these days. I’m like a junkie, hanging out, scratching my arms and waiting for my connection.
“Got any grapefruit?”
“NO! You GOTTA be KIDDING!”
“Maybe in an hour.”
“An hour!… Jesus…OK, I’ll wait.” I go next door to the internet place to check emails, kill some time.
After I’ve eaten a grapefruit I calm down. Go sit on the steps of my friend Reina’s store. What I like about Mexico, there’s a little store on every little street. You can always get milk and onions and pasta right there, outside your front door, no driving. Had a taco with Reina’s 93-year-old auntie. She has crinkled brown skin and an enormous hooked beak of a nose, but that’s only because she has no teeth and her mouth funnels into her face. She finally stopped smoking, 20 years ago. Hope for me yet. I stopped two years ago.
Best thing about not eating is my knee pains have gone away, and my heartbeat has slowed from 78 to a steady 60, or even 56 when I’m sleeping. I felt crappy when I stopped drinking, wretched when I stopped smoking, but I feel great not eating. Never would have guessed.
There’s a two foot long black and gray iguana who crawls into my bathroom to take a nap when I take my own siesta. He waits until he hears me snoring, then I am rudely awakened by the sound of his claws scraping the wooden walls as he climbs up into the gap under the roof, and waits, for something, in the damp cool, gazing out over the sun scorched roof tops below. He’s probably been doing this a lot longer than I’ve been here. Sometimes I get pissed off at the racket, and the principle of the thing – having a huge, grizzled, ugly-as-sin lizard in your bathroom – and chase him out. Other times I’m too lazy to get up and just roll over back to sleep.
I love the afternoons on the beach road in Puerto. Boys pushing around wheelbarrows piled high with yellow fin tuna, their blue sickle tails poking out the front of the wheelbarrow.
A small wood-slatted cattle truck, chugging up the hill out of town to Zipolite, packed with gleaming, white-shirted school kids, off on a field trip, probably to the turtle museum up the road, wiggling and laughing like sardines in a tin.
A warm smell of fresh tortillas, wafting out onto the shady morning streets, from the doors of the tortilla factories. Better advertising than any sign.
Selling tortillas. Pickups
Mexican – and most people in the world – live mostly outside. And most don’t have cars. So all day long through out neighborhood flows a steady stream of vendors: kid on motorbikes selling tortillas, pickups piled with watermelons or oranges or beds and mattresses. Fried meats, roasted bananas, bottled water and cooking gas. You don’t’ gotta go shopping. The store comes to you!
But the down side is the blaring loudspeakers, promoting food and events and even magic elixirs that cure everything form colic to stinky feet. These people shouldn’t be ALLOWED to own amplifiers. We’re not talking about loud noise here, we’re talkinag bout I gotta put my fingers in my ears 100 feet back from the road just to think. This is noise INVASION.
sign on dumpy main street: beer, tacos, panoramic view lots for sale.
Last morning in Puerto. Walked down to the pier for the last time, saw a few baralette (bonito), glanced to the right across the sane and saw three guys loading a huge blue marlin into a wheelbarrow. 250 lbs., caught in a net at night. Every time I think I have given up on this place it astounds me once again.
So I hopped down onto the sane and walked over to the fish and got to touch its raspy bill and tough “plastic” eyeball, and play around lifting and lowering it various fins. Beautiful fish and beautiful place. Just can’t stand the people.
Watched them push the fish across the street into the pescaderia, sharpen their knives, cut off the head and tail, then cut the fish in half and weigh both 45 kilo remaining segments on a scale.
Now I am sitting at Luisa’s coffee shop writing this and watching the first calm surf in two months. Winter is over and I am leaving. But I’m going back in an hour to buy a hunk of that marlin.
Bought marlin filettes, cut so that the normally dense connective tissue that runs through the meat is laid back and the normally tough filets are easy to cut with the side of a fork. Good show companẽros.
Off to Oaxaca City tomorrow, ground zero of the leftist revolts in Latin America at the moment.