Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Facing my fears in the Huerta

I awoke in state of melancholy this morning. I laid in bed looking at the one picture I brought with me sitting on top of my bureau. It’s a framed photo Jessica gave me for Christmas, taken on the day she was born. I’m holding her in my arms and looking down into her tiny face. She’s looking up at me. And today it seems like the picture was just taken yesterday. It made me miss Jess terribly, and aided by the flow of hormones, I began missing everyone else I’ve just left.

The worst has happened. As I was sunning myself outside by the pool, there was a slight breeze. Bottle recycling is almost a must here, so we have a line of assorted empty bottles near the trash can. One of the bottles fell over, clanking against the concrete as it fell and rolled across the pavement. The dogs stood up at the same time I did, as I went to secure the trash can in the wind. As I approached the trash can, I realized that the wind was not able to reach the trash can since it was flush with the house. Deductive reasoning led me to believe that something had to have pushed the trash can instead, further reasoning convinced me that it had to have been a huge scorpion wedged back there trying to fight its way out to me. Chills went up my spine but I chased them away and reached to move the garbage can. The dogs gathered around me and I was thinking it would be good to have my boots on right now, because I just knew that as soon as I moved the trash can a huge scorpion would jump out at me. I took a deep breath, and with the dogs gathered around me for safety, I pulled the trash can toward me and lifted it to look behind it.

And what to my horrified eyes should appear? A great big scorpion laying right there!! It had its stinger and legs crouched under it, and I thought for a brief second that it must be dead. A leftover from last year’s season that I’d missed when I swept the entire patio the other day. Surprisingly, I remained calm as I gently set the trash can back down and backed away. I jumped on the big coffee table on the patio and yelled for Becky.
“Uh, Becky. You might want to get the stick. I think there’s a scorpion out here!” She put down her book and got off the couch and came outside, to see me standing on the table pointing at the trash can.
“Where is it?” she asked.
“On the back of the chair,” I offered, thinking she meant where was the stick. She scanned the back of the chair closest to her, so I pointed to the trash.
“The scorpion’s behind there,” I said, pointing. She reached over and pulled the trash can out, and bless her heart, she didn’t freak out.
“Oooh, that’s a big one,” she said calmly. “Where’s the stick?” she asked again. She used an outdoor broom to trap it, and his stinger came out from under the bristles and repeatedly stung the air. Unable to get a good angle to smash his hard body with the tip of the broom, Becky turned to me.
“We might want the boots,” she said. I ran inside to get them from my room, and hurriedly turned them upside down and shook them out to make sure there weren’t scorpions in them before I handed them to Becky.
She donned the boots and went back to battling the intruder. After disabling it with the broom, she finally took the final crunching step that finished him. I’m ashamed to admit that I was of no help at all, as I stood on the table covering my eyes and groaning some kind of noise I didn’t know I was capable of making, alternating between laughing hysterically and thinking this might be a good time to buy a return ticket home.
“Good on you for bringing the boots,” Becky said, as she swept our conquest into the bushes that landscape the edge of the patio.
So now I’m sitting in the center of my bed, in my newly cleaned room, with my boots on, sipping coffee and thinking that i’ve been right every morning when I wake up and think I hear a scorpion stinging at the door.

After spending the afternoon crouched on my bed and creeped out, plotting many escape routes for the worst case scenarios of whatever could kill me in my tiny room, I decided I had to face my fears. After all, the giant scorpion was outside, and he did try to run away from us. In fact I should feel a little bad for having him killed, since I was technically in his domain. But, nonetheless, I survived the attack and refused to lay in wait for the next attack. So I put on my boots and went outside to water.

Water is a constant process here, and entails stretching the hose out as far as it will go, turning the water on, then slowly turning in a circle making sure that everything that’s colorful gets wet. A thorough watering can take up to an hour, but itermittent, less encompassing water is always welcome. So I planted my booted feet and sprayed the cacti, the plants, the flowers and the huge palm trees with water, the whole time imagining how many scorpions have taken their refuge in the leaves and barks of them. There must be dozens, hiding, waiting. Ha ha! I’ll show them. I pushed my thumb into the stream of water a little harder, making the stream that hit the plants even stronger. How do you like that you little bastards?

Feeling strong and confident behind the safety of a stream of water, I was confident I could squirt away anything that came after me. I ventured farther into the yard to water. Then I realized that maybe in the desert, animals wouldn’t naturally be repelled by water. In fact, being the desert, the water would be the very thing that they were attracted to. They would actually seek the water. Visions of all the scorpions I had just deliberately displaced running toward the water and thus me, filled my mind. The panic returned. I forced myself to carefully walk over and turn the water off, then I retreated to the kitchen table, where the chairs and high and my feet dangle above the ground, to have some dinner and resume my plan of defense against the scorpions.

For all my efforts to avoid rules in my life for the past few years, ironically I find myself sitting here making a list of rules that can not only keep me safe, but give me peace of mind. The result of my sleepless night of plotting and fretting, is a list of rules that I believe will cover all possible serious scenarios here, as well as make the remainder of my stay more comfortable.
1. Close the patio doors EVERY time. Even if I’m just stepping inside to turn the music down, always close the screen door. Yesterday’s intruder was less than two feet away from the entrance to the house.
2. Shake everything. Until I can find a way to suspend my entire wardrobe in midair, I have to venture into the drawers and wardrobe for my clothes.
3. Never leave the house without your sunglasses. It’s easy to get distracted here. I’ve spent many hours walking back and forth between the house and the pool/yard/beach, when I initially just stepped outside to change the laundry or have a cigarette. Getting stuck in the sun without glasses and/or a hat is very
4. uncomfortable, and after about 2 minutes of exposure I make the rounds back to find my sunglasses. The surest thing to do is just keep them on top of my head, like a new accessory. Of course that results in me patting myself down and sometimes needlessly wandering back and forth in search of them.
5. Keep boots and stick near and clear. My boots are positioned on the center of a small shelf in my room, not touching anything or close enough to anything that a scorpion might be able to jump into the tops of them from.
6. Poke everything! Inside shoes, boots, closets, suspicious items on the beach, etc. Becky’s becoming a fan of the stick, and on many occasions has said “what is that? Poke it,” as we came upon mystery objects along the road or on the beach.
7. Wave. A lot. Mexicans have a wave for everything. Shooing the flies away from the food, whipping clothes out of the drawers and waving the scorpions out of them, and letting the dogs know there are birds on the beach wave. I’ll count all the waving as the upper body strength training portion of my daily exercise routine.
8. Don’t leave clothes on the floor. Ever. Mucho sin buenos. (my own translation, “very much not good.”)
The humidity inside is beginning to increase, making it hard to navigate the computer because my fingertips are constantly damp.

Today we went to Todos Santos to visit the Bibliotica (library). It’s a non-profit library run by the local Palapa Society. It’s in a blinding white building with bright blue trim, on the corner of intersecting dirt roads in Todos. Three cement steps, covered in sand, of course, lead up into the Bibliotica. The main room is large enough for a table and four chairs in the center for reading/working, bookshelves and video shelves lining each wall, and a small bar/cash register where a nice woman checked out the items. There were three small rooms, about the size of a small bedroom, that opened up off the hallway. Each room was filled with books that had mostly been donated, with general cataloging tags like “new books,” “mystery” and “romance.” For 200 pesos a year you can have exchange privileges, both for books and videos.

Becky handed over her 200 pesos (about 18 bucks) and asked how many videos she could check out for the week. They didn’t really have a strict policy on the matter, so she said the four we wanted would be okay to take for the week.

We enjoyed flautas and Coca Cola lights at Lindis, yet another beautiful restaurant that is on a patio surrounded by plants bursting with colorful blossoms. Then we went to Bancomer, (the bank), the pescadaria, (fish place), Lazarata (veggie place) and finally ended up at El Sol, the grocery store. I’m finding my way around El Sol pretty well, having developed a pretty effective routine to get the most out of my shopping trip. Specifically what I’m buying and if I have enough pesos in my pocket to cover it. After the cottage cheese incident, if I’m not 100 percent sure what it is, I pass. (I ate sour cream for a week thinking it was Mexican cottage cheese.)

Luckily for me the casa is stocked with a video library. Much like the library in town, I gather that most of the videos have been donated, borrowed or brought in through the movie exchange cycle that runs through here. I woke up this morning a little under the weather. I think it’s hormones, combined with maybe something bad I ate yesterday, mixed with a little melancholia.

I forced myself out of bed and into my boots, grabbed a cup of coffee and decided a little fresh air while I watered would be good for me. Saturday is a very important water day, because there’s no water that comes on Sunday. Twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, the public water is turned on to fill the tanks. There’s usually plenty of water, but there is no water turn on Sunday, so obviously waiting to water the yard, shower, run the dishwasher and do laundry all on Sunday is a bad idea. So today I watered the garden.

Watering is good pondering time. Having spent nearly 24 hours already pondering the scorpions, my thoughts today turn to that of failure. Failure in my time here, failure as a writer, failure in general. What really makes me think I can be here and write a book? Especially write a book that people want to read? I’m overwhelmed by the sheer number of words it will take, more than 100,000 individual words. All organized together to tell a story from beginning to end. Of course I think I’m brilliant, but will I really be able to put that brilliance down on paper?

The rest of the day I spent reading and napping on the couch, and watching movies. It’s been a long time since I could waste the day away without worry. There’s a deluxe Alfred Hitchcock box set here, as well as 5 seasons of Seinfeld and a disturbingly hilarious set of “Trailer Park Boys” dvd’s. We watched Music and Lyrics that we checked out from the library yesterday, then took a leisurely walk down to the beach to let the dogs play.

I woke up feeling much better today. Whatever plagued me yesterday is gone, and I’m feeling refreshed mentally and physically. The sounds of the ocean during our morning walk washed away the fears that gripped me yesterday, I feel re-motivated and excited to get to work. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? I could leave here with 250 pages of a novel, and a wonderful vacation to go along with it. It’s not like I’m the first person to ever write a book and get it published. There are thousands of writers out there, and thousands upon thousands of books, some better than others. Surely, just by the numbers, there’s room for me in the big, bag publishing world.

Although I haven’t spotted the gecko, I only hear its screeching, Becky informs me that the gecko has been in my room, apparently watching me sleep. The thought of it creeps me out, but as long as it keeps to itself I’m okay with it I guess. There’s not really anything I can do about it, but I’m doubly cautious about not leaving anything on the floor or where creepy crawlies can get into it. But the gecko crawls along the walls like spider man, so I haven’t been able to come up with a suitable defense against it. That and it’s nearly translucent and apparently changes colors depending on the part of the wall its on. Oh well, as far as I know it doesn’t have stingers or teeth and a desire to taste my blood, so I’ll have to put it on my back burner of worrying.

Becky is on a cleansing fast. For eight days now not a morsel of food has passed her lips. Her will power and dedication is amazing, and is rubbing off on me a little bit. I was hoping that would be a side effect of this sabbatical, I’m able to admit to myself only now, that I truly am a fast food addict. Aside from the little family taco stands here, at which I’ve eaten three times and I usually stick to the chicken tacos, there are no fast food places within 40 miles either direction. And everything tastes different here. Even the Coca Cola light tastes slightly different from those in the States. Of course it could be that I’m actually savoring the taste here, since I’ve only had three in two weeks. As opposed to drinking them daily. I guess it’s the 2 mile drive on dirt roads in the squeaky Mecci van that makes them that much better. I have to actually work for one now.

My daily diet has been good for me, and consists of a combination of yogurt, cottage cheese, ham or chicken, a couple of maize tortillas and vegetables. Sandwiches aren’t automatically accompanied by chips or french fries, and each time we’ve eaten out we don’t get any form of side dish with the food. We pick tomatoes out of the garden, and already there’s talk amongst the neighbors about what their gardens will be producing.

The weather changed overnight. Yesterday was warm but still chilly enough to need a sweatshirt in the morning and evening. There’s been a layer of fog every morning that comes off the ocean and offers our oasis protection from the sun. It usually burns off in the afternoon, then it warms up and becomes slightly hot. Although after spending two winters in V Town, where it seldom reached above zero all winter long, I think I may have an altered perception of warmth. Its been pleasantly warm for the past two weeks, but nothing that I would call hot.

Today is close to hot. Our morning walk along the beach yielded some all over body sweating, and we didn’t even walk that far. Something terrible happened in the ocean last night, at least for the puffer fish. The beach was lined with dead, bloated puffer fish. At least I think they’re puffer fish, they’re very round and have long, hard quill like spikes poking out from their gills. Then we watched as the lady on the beach played with all the dogs. Dogs are like kids around here; everybody has at least one, most have several, and if you’re going to the beach expect all the dogs that aren’t locked up to follow you.

Along with the heat comes the bobos, or bugs. They are like little nats that fly around your face, hell bent on working their way into your brain through your rojos (eyes), ears and nose. I’m told the dozens that molested me on the beach today were merely an indicator of what the summer will bring. The good news is, bobos don’t bite. The bad news is, the noseeums do. Yup, noseeums, tiny bugs or some sort of invisible organism that does bite, but you can’t see them. They’re invisible. They can molest me and I won’t even know it.

I know I’ve been molested. Most of my body itches. It started with my ankles, which I chalked up to dry skin and a recovering sunburn. Then my elbow started, still, probably just dry skin. But then my neck, and various spots on my head started to itch. I pointed the problem out to Becky, and she smiled at me and said, “oh yes, the itching. That’s the noseeums.” She was very matter-of-fact about it, which of course makes me immediately think that mentioning or in any way looking like I’m complaining about the tiny bugs I can’t even see might make me appear to be a pansy. I’m not a pansy, and especially not in front of my baby sister. So I’m stoicly sitting at the table resisting the urge to scratch myself all over like the dogs do. Maybe that’s why they roll around in the sand. It would be like an all over body scrubbing. King of brilliant if you think about it, except for the fact that the playa (beach) is crawling with far more dangerous creatures than invisible bugs and nats.

June 21, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. More Huggs Salve my Withdrawl

    Comment by George | July 2, 2010 | Reply

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