Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

THE MYSTERIOUS LICKER
I haven’t found the heat to be unbearable as of yet, however the humidity today is oppressing, It’s only 8 a.m. And every inch of me is covered in sweat already, including my fingertips, which made my plans of retiring to the shaded patio frustrating, since wet fingers on a navigation square doesn’t work very well. I got up before seven and took a long walk to the tequila ranch and back along the beach, pondering my departure from here. Planes are pretty expensive, trains don’t exist here, and automobiles are an option, but include spending 12 hours driving through the desert with a stranger. And then, there’s the Aguilla! A bus that runs the entire length of the peninsula, which would deliver me to California, where flights to Salt Lake are around $100.

The humidity hit last night, and I lay awake most of the night tossing and turning. I thought it had been bad the second week I was here when it melted the coating off my ibuprofen. I had a few loose ones floating around in my bag, the little brown tablets, so when I moved into my room I dropped the loose pills in a little shelf/cubby spot built into the bureau door. With the humidity comes a little bit of a sinus headache for me, so I went in search of one the other day. I pulled them out of the bureau and they were half white. Like an M&M that’s gotten wet, the brown coating fading away across the top of the pill like someone had sucked on it and spit it back out. My headache was mile and I wasn’t desperate enough to try them, so I scooped them up, at least most of them, one or two lodged in the back of the cubby and its dark back there so I didn’t probe around to make sure I got them all.

As I lay drenched in sweat at sunrise this morning, watching the rays come through the small window above my bed and lighten the room, I heard the dreaded tap, tap, tapping, and it was coming from somewhere inside my room. I tensed up and pulled my feet under the covers and leaned my head toward the edge of the bed. I heard it again, but not so distinctly. It was coming from the wardrobe, which is at the foot of my bed. Dammit! A scorpion had infiltrated the wardrobe and was on the inside of it with all of my clothes! Dammit! The stick was in the other room but the boots were within reach so I slowly and quietly reached over and grabbed them. The tapping stopped when I sat up to put my boots on, and for a moment I was happy. Whooohooo! It was gone, whatever it was. My joy was short lived. Where had it gone? It was going somewhere in my clothes, that was certain. What would be worse? Taking care of it now or spending the rest of my time from that moment forward worrying about where the scorpion might be? And I remembered that the bigger ones are not dangerous at all. Of course it could be a big rattle snake coiled up inside my clothes, waiting to pounce at me. After a few more minutes of worrying, I decided to get it over with.

I stood on the edge of my bed and untangled the bedsheet. I held it in front of me as a barrier, thinking if the snake, or anything else lunged I could just hold up the sheet and deflect them, or at least stop them from making direct contact with my skin. I know it sounds flimsy now, abut at the time it seemed like the best thing to do. I stood silently, poised with my sheet, and waited for the tapping to begin again. I heard nothing and was genuinely disappointed that I had scared whatever it was away. I was pumped with my adrenaline and my heart was racing with fear, and I wanted this to end now! Now the thought of not being able to face my tormenter was no longer an option. I waited patiently and a few seconds later I heard it again. Tap, tap,tap. Quick, methodical and faint, surely the scorpion was waiting on the inside trying to get out. I decided slower was better, fearing that if I threw open the door in haste the villain could be tossed out or worse, run deeper into my pile of clothes.

I took a deep breath and very slowly reached over and opened the bureau drawer closest to me. I had my sheet ready and could see into the wardrobe from above the door since I was standing on the bed. I opened it a little wider and could see into the main compartment of the bureau; if there was a rattlesnake in there it wasn’t the giant one I had pictured in my mind because there wasn’t a huge coil of snake filling the shelf. Relieved, I relaxed with the sheet and pulled the bureau door open the rest of the way. And there was the gecko, licking my ibuprofen. He jumped in surprise and the pill bounced around the little shelf. I gave out a little whoop of surprise, and his eyes looked like they were going to pop off his face, he paused for a second, I’m sure considering whether or not he had time for one last lick before I caught him. He must have decided against it because he ran back into my wardrobe, and my clothes.

EXPLORING THE HUERTA
It’s been a very busy couple of days, that began with gloom, despair and agony on Me, (at least in my own mind,) and a long, hot journey to the top of the mountain and back, and ended with dancing the night away at the Sandbar forty eight hours later. I was feeling put upon by the world, and Becky was feeling put upon by me, so we jumped in the little SUV with Janet and Jill, and headed for the mountains covered in cacti, dirt and weeds. We stopped for tamales and Coca Cola Lights, then headed up the steep incline of the mountains. It was a humid day, and for whatever reason we got out of town midday just as the blazing sun was peaking in the sky. Paloma, the name of our trusty steed/suv for the day, given that name, which means “dove,” by Janet’s mechanic, rattled over the wash board rutted roads, dirt flying in the open windows and sticking in our teeth.

I would not describe the drive as beautiful. I wouldn’t consider the miles and miles of brown brush and cacti, littered with bushes and dirt, beautiful. We drove for miles and saw nothing. Not a chipmunk or a squirrel. Not even signs of dead life. Trash litters the road and papers are stuck to the branches of the bushes. The trash never dies here. It never rains and its so hot that nothing ever gets a chance to disintegrate or be washed back into the earth. The farther up the mountain we went the more convinced I was that nothing could live there. No water and the heat obviously made it impossible to sustain life. I started looking for any signs of life. I watched the top of the massive cardon looking for iguanas, but saw none. Then I watched alongside the road for lizards. No movement. I couldn’t believe it myself, but I actually hoped to see a snake. Even a snake to show me a sign of life to assure me that I wasn’t standing on the edge of death. But no snake. Then, from the left, barely visible through the dusty windshield, was a bright red cardinal flying alongside of Paloma. He flew ahead of us and perched on a barren bush, then eyed us with a welcome and cocked his head.

The contract of his brilliant red feathers against the dreary gray background was welcome, and I realized that maybe I’d been looking in the wrong places for desert life. As we drove along I watched for birds, and was amazed to realize that there were actually many of them flying in and out of the cacti, bushes and trees. Some were yellow, we saw another cardinal, and we watched a hawk circle closely above, searching for movement and the chance of dinner below. I got out to take some pictures with the intention of writing a travel article for the local paper before I go, and stood in the middle of the road, notebook and pen in hand, looking out over the desert. I was at a loss for words. What words do I use to describe the vast nothingness and barrenness of what lay before me?

We all began manifesting, or wishing for, a shady spot where we could spread out our blanket and enjoy our lunch. It was near high noon and there were very few shadows anywhere, but we bumped along firmly believing that we would find some reprieve in some mystery shade. Before long we came along a fork in the road. Actually it was a triangle, with two roads meeting in front of us and heading in different directions, creating a pretty good sized piece of land in the shape of a triangle between the two roads. In the middle of the triangle was a tree, with a lovely patch of shade underneath it, begging us to join it for lunch. Several yards away from the shade in the middle of nowhere was a small cement monument with a statue of Jesus inside of it. They’re all over here, alongside the road, and I’m told that the Mexican people use any occasion for a marker as an occasion for a tribute to one saint or another. They’re little cement buildings about two feet by two feet, often in the shape of a little chapel or church like looking building. Some of them have tiny picket fences around them, and all of them have the remains of dozens of candles that have been lit in front of them.

As we enjoyed our lunch on the ground, I started hearing bells. Not heavenly horns or anything like that, but a distant tinkling in the death of the desert. “I hear bells,” I announced. “Probably a cow,” was the consensus back from the ladies. Sure enough I looked around as the bells got louder and out of the barren bushes around us came several cows, meandering their way down the road and toward us. One black cow with impressive horns wandered over next to us and loitered in the shade the other half of our tree was providing. Several other cows meandered over and passed us by, but this cow wanted to make sure we knew he was important in these parts. He stared at us for a few minutes, then feeling he had sufficiently stood his turf, wandered on down the road to join the other cows.

The amigos had been on this trip once before, and were unfortunately enough to get caught in dangerously heavy rain on their drive back down the mountain. We heard horror stories about it on the drive in, and agreed that the first sign of rain clouds we would leave. As we were packing up lunch, the clouds that had been lurking on the horizon all day suddenly appeared to be coming our way. We decided to return the way we came and err on the side of caution, so we jumped back into the trusty Paloma and headed home. I hadn’t been too worried about the rain until we were well on the road up the mountain, assuming like many people, of course, that if I’m on a mountain I can get someplace high if the floods some. From what I hear, when it does rain it all runs down the mountain, taking anything in its path and uprooting trees and plants. Looking around the road and terrain, it was painfully obvious to me that if the skies were to open up we would be in serious trouble. I fretted about the impending doom of the storm as we slowly scaled our way back down the mountain, and started breathing normally again when we hit the main road in P Town. The clouds never did turn into rain, in fact the only thing that changed was the humidity, which is bordering on intolerable.

ROCKING THE HUERTA
I joined the girls for lunch at Miguel’s, a nice restaurant at the Cerritos resort, where the help was friendly and the food looked good. I had just eaten and went along for the socializing so I just had a caffe con leche and a cerveza. There was a very long, very colorful snake in the road on our way to the restaurant, on one of the roads I jog along each morning. We were in the car so it didn’t bother me too much, but I will remember to watch for it when I’m jogging in the morning. Lunch turned into an afternoon of socializing, which turned into an evening of socializing, which turned into a trip to the Sandbar, P Town’s biggest, most famous meat market. There was a Reggae band playing so Becky, myself, clad in a black tee, jeans and the boots, and an amigo headed to town to dance the night away.

The journey alone was an adventure that involved driving down the wrong side of the main highway briefly. When we arrived we could hear the music out on the street, and pretty much had the same feel of any American watering hole. It was a pretty big palapa, with a large tree growing in the center of it, reaching into the sky above the walls of the palapa, its leaves and branches creating a roof that allows the stars to twinkle through the top. Every bit of the bar is sand. The sides are a combination of windows, palapa walls and open air. The band, “Good Vibrations,” is local and their equipment filled a small roped off area for a stage on one end of the palapa, and a small motorcycle, obviously owned by a patron or band member, was leaned up against the palapa wall. I don’t know anything about Reggae music, and they were singing in Spanish so I have no idea if the band is any good or not, but the beat was good. Aside from the open top that provides a great view of the stars, and the beach party feel, it’s like every other local watering hole I’ve ever been to.

Some, like us, were there to dance and get out of the house. We settled in with our drinks, Coca Cola Light for me, a cervesa for Becky and tequila for our amiga, which was served in a small child’s plastic cup with little farm animals on the side. Others were there to get lucky, some to get hammered and some didn’t even really know where they were. But everyone has a place here in Mexico. Becky and our amiga got the dancing started, the lesbians followed, then the retirees waltzed amongst them, and a jolly, white-haired lady danced around the fringe of the growing crowd.

The last dancer to join the crowd was an old lady, bone thin, wearing the skimpiest of a tie died sundress, held up by a black fanny pack strapped around her waist. Her bony frame made it impossible to gauge her real age, coupled with her haggard face and unseeing eyes. She did not enter the dance floor alone, however. No, her partner was a garden rake. Yup. Wooden handle and a red plastic tip that was a fan of plastic. They took to the floor and she enthusiastically spun her partner around the floor. Who was this woman? Was she just an old lady who had lost her mind? If so, I guess dancing with a rake and drinking beer at the Sandbar probably beats the hell out of a nursing home. Then a funny thing happened. People dancing started dancing toward this woman and her rake. They all bounced, swayed and shimmied their way over to her, then they all started dancing with her rake. She was very gracious to share her partner with the crowd, and when the song was over there was a group hug with the rake before the dancers dispersed back to their table.

We danced into the wee hours of the morning. Turns out I like Reggae. The dancing isn’t about shimmying and sex on the dance floor; it’s more of an individual beat that makes you want to bounce or move. We drove back through the huerta, whoopin and hollering like a bunch of drunken sailors. We stopped in the middle of the dirt road, again, to drag Becky out of the truck and force her to drink water upside down in the middle of the road to get rid of her hiccups. The end result was a lot of laughing and Becky nearly drowning, but her hiccups were cured.

HUMIDITY HITS THE HUERTA
The humidity is unbelievable today! It actually started last night, after battling ANOTHER huge spider to get to my bed. I finally nestled in, and awoke two hours later drenched in sweat. My slumber turned into a routine of waking too hot and sticky, so I’d kick the covers off and the tiny breeze created by the ceiling fan cooled me as it blew over my sweaty body. I’d fall back asleep, only to be awakened again in about two hours because I was being bitten by bugs. I woke up and scratched my ankles and elbows, the parts that were exposed most. I killed some kind of bug on my shin, but I didn’t want to see what it was so satisfied that it was anything big enough to do any damage, like a scorpion or wolf spider, so I didn’t turn on the light to see what it was. I covered back up with my blanket and slept for about two hours, until I awoke again sopping wet with sweat. And that went on all night. I was actually pretty happy to see the sun come up and get out of bed.

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July 20, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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