Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Bienvenido Mexic!

June 2010
Mexico is treating me well. I finally got a good day for the internet, so here’s my past week’s adventures!

Bienvenidos Mexico!
After a week of good byes and 12 hours of traveling today, including two flights and a short lifetime in the Dallas airport, I have finally arrived in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The journey I have dreamed of for so long finally became a reality when I stepped off the plane into a wall of heat and humidity, then was accosted at the airport while trying to find a shuttle.

I have been as guilty as the next person when it comes to thoughts of foreigners in America, muttering more than once “learn to speak English.” The tables were abruptly turned on me when I landed, and while many spoke English at the airport, several men were eager to help us find our way to the hotel. Each had a different price, some tried to sell us on time shares and assorted other goods, and after taking the lowest bidder on a shuttle, we arrived at our destination.

Apparently it’s true that Hispanic men really like red-heads. After being in the country for less than an hour, I had already been “molested” by a local. The term “no moleste” I’m told, means “leave me alone.” Unsure about using the term, which is one of only three I know, I didn’t realize when the shuttle driver teased me, smiled at me, put his arm around me and tried to lick me, that I was actually being “molested.” I will definitely be working more on my Spanish in the morning.

I’ve received the lesson on money, or pesos, and thought I would have an easy go of it until we actually went into a pharmacia for snacks. The young girl rattled off something that I couldn’t even identify as a number, and as I stood looking dumbfounded, Becky graciously paid her and escorted me back to our room.

The smell and feel of Mexico is disturbingly incredible. It’s like perpetual wet concrete. The Best Western we are staying at has tile floors, and the young man who carried our bags for us I’m pretty sure was enchanted with us, as he kept repeating as he lugged our nearly 100 pounds of luggage, that he was “strong.” I feel small and intrusive here, but sipping chamomile tea sitting on the patio overlooking Cabo, with Becky by my side, I am a little overwhelmed at the fact that I’m actually here, and will be for a while.

This evening I found myself standing in the middle of a dirt road, holding my wet flip flops in one hand and a rather large, heavy papaya in the other, with a stray cat circling around my ankles rubbing itself against me. We were headed back to the casa to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. My accommodations are incredibly serene and beautiful, with the ocean on one side of the abode and the Sierra de laguna mountains on the other.

I’ve unpacked my bags, after carefully cleaning and searching my room for scorpions and assorted other potentially poisonous, creepy crawlie things. As I type I hear the eeh eeh, of the gecko, which Becky informs me are two in residence here, who come out in the evening from behind the microwave and run rampant on the walls. They’re nearly translucent, resembling a gummy gecko as they scurry across the walls, using the open space as their personal playground. A surreal ending to a surreal day.

We left Cabo after being picked up by Becky’s Amigos, Maria and Greeta, two delightful ladies who blew into town and escorted us to Costco and Walmart to stock up on provisions before delivering us to our casa here in P Town. After a short walk down the street we were on the beach, watching 10 foot waves crash against the shore. We went down the road to a friend’s house to borrow his van, walk his dogs and take his water. He’s in the states for an undetermined amount of time, so we’re keeping an eye on his property and dogs while he’s gone.

My portion of the home is small and cozy, with a bed, bureau and dresser. I was awakened this morning, before the sun was up, by a faint tap, tap tapping. I laid in bed trying to diagnose the sound, which I decided could only be the result of a giant scorpion trying to escape the confines of the house. Using it’s long stinger to tap at the glass of the sliding glass door that leads to the patio and the pool. Huddled under the covers, not because it was cold but out of some sense of security, I burrowed into my bed deeper, debating whether or not to wake Becky and begin a search party for the offending monster.

Then I heard the gecko scream. It was more of a screech, but for little, nearly translucent creatures, its call echoed throughout the entire house. Kind of like having a magpie trapped in my room. This was ridiculous, I couldn’t stay in bed all day, and I had already heard Becky leave to take the dogs for a walk. So, I mustered my courage and reached for my stick. One of the things I strongly believed I must bring is a beautiful walking stick that Mr. P gave me for my birthday. Hand picked and hand carved, It’s a very fine stick, and I was glad this morning that I insisted on bringing it along.

In my efforts to avoid running across any scorpions on the floor in the dim morning light, I used my stick to fetch my boots, which I also insisted on bringing amid jeers that they wouldn’t be necessary. I stuck my stick into the top of my boots which were on a stand on the other side of my night stand, and poked around in each boot with my stick before dragging them closer and shaking them out for bugs. Clad in my sleeping boxers, tank top and boots, I ventured out with my stick to the bathroom, which is about 10 feet away through Becky’s room.. I succeeded in not getting eaten or stung, so I grabbed my water bottle and ventured outside.

And the awesomeness of where I am hit me all over again. The rumble of the ocean with huge waves crashing to shore fills not only my ears, but also creates a literal rumbling in my heart. I can feel the ground move with each wave, and looking out over the ocean in the day’s first light reminds me how small I really am.

We walked on the beach for several hours this morning, the official beginning of our fitness routine. Walking through the sand I found is pretty difficult, and takes dedication. After the first few hundred yards I questioned whether or not I really wanted to go all the way down the beach to the point where the tip of the mountain greeted the ocean. The place where jagged black rocks fought back the towering waves that approached., wiping out anything in its path as it washed ashore, dragging back anything that might be on the beach. The rocks were scattered from the base of the mountain out several hundred yards into the ocean. Those farthest out were covered with a fine fluorescent green fur. All kinds of plant and sea life has found their home on the rocks, surviving in the pools of water that gather in the lava-like rocks. A large crab scurried away as I approached, and smaller black crabs scurried across the rock. The roar of the waves approaching grew louder, and created a loud boom when they ran into the towering rocks, making it impossible to hear each other talk.

We saw a scorpion dead on the road on the way there, then I saw the crabs scurry away along the beach, we saw a dead squid that had washed up on the beach, as well as a seal that had been carried in on last night’s tide. Both were in the process of returning to dust with the help of the beating tide, bugs and local turkey vultures.

The deluxe security system entails a whistle, an aerosol can of room deodorizer, a flashlight and the screaming of the name Carlos really loud. The system utilizes more of a surprise and accost approach, relying heavily on the scare factor; specifically if Becky and I could be scarier than any intruder. The violent crime here is very low, however crimes of opportunity, such as sneaking into someone’s house and grabbing their purse, is quite high. As one local puts is, “They’re not really big on raping,” most intruders are just looking for an easy score of anything of value, an are easily intimidated and/or scared away.

So our deluxe security system works like this: Becky has the deluxe flashlight by her bed. If anyone enters the doors to our room, she shines the bright light in their eyes. I grab the can of air freshener and whistle that I keep by my bed, and spray him in the eyes with the aerosol while blowing the whistle. At that time Becky starts yelling “Carlitos! Carlistos! Come here quick! Someone’s in the house!” If that fails, Becky has given me one piece of advice that I’m assured works with anyone down here; scream and cry like a crazy woman.

I am forbidden, however, from engaging the deluxe security system for the geck.

I have a busy day ahead of me. I have to attach a string to my sun hat to prevent it from blowing off my head in the wind, and also so I can dangle it down my back when I’m not wearing it. We have to water the yard, go to the Oxxo for minutes on the internet chip. I have to call and change my voiCemail message directing callers to email, since there is no phone service for me in P Town. The closest service is 40 miles in either direction, so also on my list of things to do today is to call jess and have her drop the international plan, since its not working.

Wheeew, I’ve almost worn myself out already. Two cups of coffee, a leisurely breakfast and morning watering took up most of the morning. Maybe this afternoon I’ll wander out back to the washing machine and get my clothes clean. Or take a dip in the pool. Or walk along the beach. Or all three.

So the question is begging to be asked. How many days of putting toilet paper into the trash can you go before the smell becomes unbearable? I’ve been here for 48 hours and it has not begun to stink yet, although we did take it out for good measure. I was a little freaked out at the thought of putting tp in the garbage, but after getting to our little oasis in the desert and realizing just how far out of the way it is, I realized that getting a clogged toilet would be a very bad thing. So I obliging deposit my tp in the trash.

We had to make a trip to the Oxxo, which is the convenience store/gas station that serves the huerta, which is our little oasis in the desert. Mountains full of huge cacti and nasty looking bushes line one half of the herta, while the Pacific Ocean lines the other. Due to a natural aquifer under the ground in P Town, the desert mountains hide this lush green valley. The community is off the main highway, and includes only bumpy dirt roads. Piling into the Mecci Van, which is an old surfer van, we made our way to the Oxxo to put money on the phone and internet cards, and get cervesa and cigarettes. Of course my best laid rationing plans went out the window regarding the cervesa and cigarettes, leaving me without our week’s ration within two days. Under the reasoning that I’m technically on vacation, we drank and smoked all we had, lounging around the pool and visiting with the locals. The food rationing is going well, however, since a minimal diet is all I’ve really felt like eating. Funny how not planning my day around my meals, and having all the time I want to prepare them, takes the urgency out of eating.

Another beautiful day in the huerta. Each morning begins with a cloud covering that stretches from across the ocean to over the mountains. With a little chill in the air, it’s perfect weather for shorts and a light jacket.

Although the afternnons have also been cool, many residents siesta in the hottest part of the afternoon. It’s common courtesy here to not call or visit anyone unannounced between 1 and 4 in the afternoon. All of the homes here, which are built out of cinder block than stuccoed and painted bright colors, are in a perpetual state of being built. Our neighbor is having what looks to be an outdoor bar built on his property, and since the boundary fences are built out of twigs or vines, it’s pretty easy to see what’s going on. All of the workers begin early while its the coolest, and as I sip my coffee on the patio, their banter in a language I don’t understand drifts toward me, mingled with the sound of the wave crashing on the beach. I don’t understand what they’re saying, but it sounds like they enjoy their work, which today consists of stripping and coating palm fronds for the roof.

I had a magical moment yesterday with a little local girl. It reminded me what it was like to be a child again. To be excited about learning and experiencing every moment. We happened upon the girl, who was about 4 or 5 I’d guess, as her and her parents were staring at the electrical boxes that ran the strip of road they live on. Their power was out, and as Becky offered to look at the meters with the mother, I was left standing in the middle of the dirt road again, along with the father, the child and 5 dogs. The dogs were jumping and nipping at each other, having a good time. The little girl rambled on like all girls that age do, and with her beautiful curly hair and dark eyes, I was really sad that I didn’t know what she was talking about.

She finally looked at me and said something like “no eyoo comprehende espanole.”
I almost shook with excitement when I recognized “comprehend.” She was asking me, no she was telling me, that I didn’t speak Spanish. With the biggest goofiest grin I’ve ever had, I looked at her and couldn’t help but chuckle when I shook my head and said “No.” Obviously savvy with dealing with tourists, she just shrugged and turned back to play with the dogs. I wondered if maybe I had not occasion to be proud, maybe I answered her completely wrong, maybe I offended her. But I was pretty sure I’d said the right thing.

As she tumbled around with the dogs, she kept repeating “come to my yamas,” and looking at me. She said it about 3 or 4 times as she played with Southey, and I suddenly realized she might be saying llamas, (Yamas) which is what is your/her/it name? This time the excitement was twice as intense, as I patted myself on the back for being brilliant enough to sniff out the words I understood. But I hesitated, going over the flash card game Becky and I had been playing in Spanish. I was sure llamo was name. I listened in my mind to the stuffed Elmo that my nephew Mitch had that asked your name in spanish. I was positive I had it right. Now I had to figure out how to say it back. I know nothing about possessives, formality or technicality in the language, so I opted for the simple approach.

I patted Southey on the head and looked at her and said “llamas Southey,” and I smiled at her.
“Sooottteeyy,” she said.
“South-eey” I said back, grinning from ear to ear.
“Southey,” she said really quickly, then pointed to Brownie. “Como se llamo?”
“Brownie,” I said. She pointed to the third dog. “Como se Llamo?”
“Kira.” I said. I decided to take the next logical step and pointed at her. “llamo?” I asked her.
She told me her name quickly, and I tried to pronounce it. She said it slower and louder for me, with a slight look of tolerance. I repeated her name and she asked me what my name was. I told her llamo Tabatha. I lost control of the conversation after that, as she began speaking faster and moving around more. I think she was asking me where I live, but I couldn’t make the words out for sure, so I quietly looked at my feet in the sand and then smiled awkwardly with her father until Becky returned.

Today we drove into San Lucas Cabo with Janet, a delightful lady who picked us up in a tiny SUV and took us directly to a beautiful beach. The wind was blowing and the waves were too high for snorkeling, but she assured me that she would gladly help me pick up the sport as the weather gets better.

The day called for a swimming suit at the beach to begin with, followed by a day of shopping. I dug through all of my last minute purchases and found a tankini and a sundress that not only looked good but also matched my new hat and the beads I used to hold the strings on. Everything seemed to fit perfectly, was comfortable and by chance actually matched. I felt beautiful and carefree as we left the casa to start walking out of the huerta on our way to meet Janet.

We didn’t need much at Costco as far as rations go. We’ve done well on making our food last, there’s something about strolling the beach all day that makes eating a secondary focus.

I’m being assimilated quickly into the life here on the huerta. This afternoon we’re hosting a couple of the ladies for wine, which they are bringing Becky in exchange for her taking care of their property recently. Tonight we’re hosting the husband and son of a woman friend who has not yet arrived. In preparation for today’s obligations we ventured into P Town for supplies. First on the list was getting me a cell phone. Becky did an outstanding job of negotiating with the woman at the MoviStar, we walked away with a phone that was loaded and ready to go for about 50 bucks.

By the way, it takes three days for the bathroom garbage to become intolerable.

Then we ventured into the mini super, little supermarket. Picture driving down a dirt road and coming upon a small shack in the middle of nowhere. That’s the mini super. It reeked of fish and some other identified smells, it was busy and loud with a lot of patrons in there, and I was one of two of the only white people in there. Becky was negotiating for soup bones with the butcher, while I stood in the middle of the aisle holding my Oreos, Fritos and Cheetos, all of which were sealed so I knew they were safe to eat. An older, plump lady wandered past memumbling and smiling, but I have no idea if she was talking to me or about me. I got my Coca Cola Light (Diet Coke) and my chips and as we loaded into the Mecca van covered in dust, the old Mexican man sitting on the bench outside yelled out an enthusiastic “Bye!” Unable to figure out how to respond quickly, when we got in the van I turned to Becky and asked “what should I have said?” She looked at me and smiled, “Bye, he was speaking English.”

Living in the Huerta is kind of like living in a romance novel, where the ladies return for the season and the season entails parties, making the rounds and catching up. Tonya, a wonderful woman from South Africa took us to Todos Santos today where we had lunch and shopped. I bought a pair of flip flops and we got some groceries, then we headed for one of the thrift shops Becky had told me about. We pulled off the paved road and wound through some tall palms on a dirt road, finally pulling into the parking lot of what looked like a compound. Like a big yard sale that lasts all week long, we browsed the tables of books, videos, clothes, kitchen stuff, golf clubs, etc. All were covered with a layer of dirt, like everything here is.

I stared down the ocean today. I stood on the edge of the sand watching the waves come in. The water began reaching for the sky way out in front of me, reaching its tallest peak and turning white before turning over on itself, roaring the sound of the entire world behind it. The roar is replaced as the wave dissipates, sending billions of tiny white bubbles swooshing to the shore, reaching as far up the sand as it can.

I stood two feet below the water line of the last waves, and hiked my sunskirt up around my knees. Luckily it was a pool day so I was wearing a swimming suit underneath, perhaps it was the great suit that gave me the confidence to stare down the ocean. I watched as all of the water that lay before me rushed toward me, waves taller than me cresting and crashing down on themselves, forcing the millions of gallons of water toward me. I held my ground as the water rushed up to my toes, then quickly passed me up the shore, forcing water up my legs past my knees, soaking my sunskirt.

The sand melted away from beneath my feet, leaving me unstable and nervous as the water rushed past me. The weight of the world had just thrown itself at my feet, and I was surrounded for a moment by water. Little ol’ me with the great big ocean wrapping itself around me. Then the tide went back out, and my world of water began to retreat with the same ferocity that it came with. The weight of the world was pulling it back, and I dug my feet into the sand as I anchored myself against the pull of the world. The, in an instant, it was gone. I was alone on the wet sand of the beach.

We’re headed to a birthday party this afternoon for Janet. When she took us to the beach last week, the first time I met her, the weather was overcast so we sat on a sheet that she carried in her large tote. After settling in I went for a smoke and realized I’d left them at home. From the corner of the sheet and under her big hat, Janet responded in her dramatic accent, “Cigarettes? Oh we’ll get cigarettes, and we’ll smoke them all day long and we’ll be sluts.”

Janet’s birthday bash was a ball, she lives in an open palapa on the hill overlooking P Town. We ate chocolate, had drinks and were scandalous. We exchanged Cd’s, information, inspiration and food. Maria summed up the people of P Town for me.
“The people here are a little weird. You get all kinds. Some are running from something, others are running to something, some are just trying to figure out where they’re supposed to be.” Maria Fuentes.
As we sat in the Palapa visiting and wrapping up the party, someone asked Janet how her birthday was. She said “Well, everyone’s teeth and sunglasses.”

I went for a ride on the bicycle by myself today, seeking out the mini tienda that is just up the street. Imagine driving along a dirt road in the desert, with nothing but snakes and scorpions (I know they’re there hiding in the bushes, but none ran out in front of me,) then coming upon a small cement shack that was somebody’s home. That’s the mini tienda here. I think its called chapell’s. The first time I rode there they were closed, so I went for a ride about looking for the road that Becky tells me would be good for jogging because it forms a loop through the community. I got lost and couldn’t find the right road, so I decided to double back to the tienda and they happened to be open.

Alone for the first time since I’ve been here, I walked in tall and acting like I knew exactly what I was doing. There was nobody behind the counter, and the door from the living room to the back of the casa was open so I tentatively said “Hola,” in a questioning way. Immediately a plump Mexican woman came out to help me. “Dos cigarette Marlboro Light por favor,” I said. (Two packs of Marlboro Lights.” She put them on the table and as I opened my fly bag I realized I only had my baggie of change, not the 100 pesos I had in my wallet, which I had left at home. I proudly remedied the situation by saying “Pardone, um, uno Marlboro light por favor.” She put the other pack back and rambled off the price to me. She was talking too fast and I don’t know my numbers past 10, so I asked her to show me the total on the calculator she was using. 340 pesos, or about $3.40. I handed over my 20 peso bill, and counted the rest out in coin. She took my money and smiled at me, but I’m pretty sure she wasn’t super excited about helping me. So I got back on my bike and pedaled home.

We traveled to Todos in the Mecci van again today, and again I was amazed that the tires didn’t fall off. The incessant squeaking is quaint and cute in the Huerta, but when we’re cruising down the streets of Todos Santos the noise attracts the attention of every person in town. Mostly the Mexicans look at us and shake their head at the noisy, dirty van with windows that don’t roll up. We certainly don’t give off the image of rich gringos in the Mecci van.

Upon our return to the Huerta we dropped down to Dr. Robert’s surf hotel, where the local PhD is holding a writer’s conference.. We went down to check it out and see if there were any workshops I might want to attend. Turns out the conference is pretty much what I expected; four writers crashing for the week at the camp. They’re all friends and they’re all established writers, so they were pretty eager to let me pick their brains. Unfortunately they’re not holding any official workshops, but I promised to return with a bottle of wine one evening and finish picking their brains. They’re older gentlemen who are a bit pretentious, but I get that they’re old school writers who are used to doing things the hard way. I’m sure they’ll have good information for me, and it’s obviously a sign from the universe that they would be dropped right here on our beach for a week.

There are few mirrors here, which is ironic considering the book I’m reading is called “The Mirror of Her Dreams.” I haven’t really looked at myself in days, but this morning we were going to crash the writer’s conference so I applied mascara. I was surprised to see myself. I look healthy and my skin is good. I think I’ve lost a pound or two, and I’m feeling strong. My clothes all fit well, and I’m surprised that I’m comfortable wearing bold colors such as orange and yellow.

June 17, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. i get a lot more info from reading your blog then i ever could talking on the phone. c0ntinue on haveing fun grasshoppers

    Comment by brenda deans | June 21, 2010 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: