Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Today was an exciting day in the huerta. Tortes (sandwiches) were made, beer was bought and a buzz of activity ran through the huerta. Would dark clouds in the distance ruin the day? What was the occasion? Construction workers on the corner were scheduled to pour cement today. Construction here is much more laborious than in the states. There are no cement trucks. The construction site is equipped with a palate full of bags of cement, a revolverdora (small cement mixer) and a lot of five-gallon buckets. Today they were pouring cement at the top of the building. Several workers work the revolverdora, feeding water and dry cement mix into. The other workers form a brigade, lining up from the mixer to the top of the building, some hanging on ladders where necessary. They fill a bucket with cement and pass it along the line, up the ladder and to the top of the building. They throw the bucket up the worker above them, all the time hollering and cheering each other on. It seems impossible to me to even be able to lift a bucket of cement, let alone throw one. But they keep at it.

The birds sing all night long. It started the night before last, and continues. The birds always wreak havoc in the morning, chirping, screeching, whistling and singing as soon as the sun comes up. Lately, they’ve been carrying on the same way well after dark. At 11:00 at night I can hear them mostly singing and whistling. It sounds like an aviary on the back patio, with dozens of birds perched in the cardon chattering amongst themselves. In reality though, after listening closely and analyzing the chirping, I believe all the noise is coming from only two, maybe even only one, little bird. It sounds like its practicing all of its calls, going from short, fast chirp, chirp, chirp, to longer, slower whistles. I counted at least six different calls coming from the cardon, and finally shone my flashlight toward it so I could see the culprit/culprits. Although it was too dark for me to actually see the birds, as soon as the light hit the cardon the chirp turned to long, siren-like whistles that got faster and louder as I walked nearer.

I felt much like Senor Iggy, the iguana who suns himself on the cardon above the pool everyday. We took a walk to the beach this morning, then returned home where Becky made me scrambled eggs and bacon and I took to the couch with slight headache and a book. The food helped the headache, but I was already wrapped up in my blankie on the couch with a good book, alone for the day, so there was really no need to ruin a perfectly good sick day just because I felt better. And, my knee still hurts a little bit, so I spent the day napping and reading “Water for Elephants,” which is turning out to be a pretty good read.

I finally emerged outside in the late afternoon, and the cardon was full of activity. Senor Iggy was draped over the top of his branch of the huge cacti, his striped tail dangling down one side and his head hanging over the other side. He lifted his head when he heard me, and greeted my by bobbing his head up and down like he was doing push ups. Lower down on the cardon, on a branch that had grown sideways, creating a bridge between two branches, sat a chipmunk. His tail was flitting and he was fidgeting, making little squeaking noises as if he were telling Senor Iggy about his woes. A small gray and brown bird landed on a top branch, several over from Iggy, and looked down at me, then his head jolted around as he looked at the other inhabitants of the cardon. I guess he realized none of us were going to eat him, so he decided it was a safe enough place to stay. He started chirping and I immediately knew he was the culprit from the past few night’s never ending serenade. Sure enough, he let loose a string of at least a dozen (I stopped counting after that) different songs.

When I first arrived here and went out to do the watering each day, I was afraid to water the plants along the back of the property, or the back 40 as I call it, because that’s where the snakes, lizards and iguanas hung out. Two sides of the property are lined with empty fields on either side, and I would cringe at the thought of having to battle all living things to water. After dozens of hours of watering the task has become quite boring, and recently I’ve found myself volunteering to water the back 40, in hopes of seeing the lizards and snake, any kind of life moving about during the mundane task. I was surprised to find myself a little disappointed that I haven’t seen the snake again, although the lizards are getting used to me and no longer run away as soon as they see me. They seem to know I’m bringing them water, and hang out around the edges of my water stream.

There’s a new man in the Huerta. I don’t know who he is, what he looks like or where he lives, but I’ve noticed a new set of very large man’s bare footprints in the sand on the road. I’ve also noticed that the big snake track has moved a little farther down the road, apparently he’s decided to commute to the neighbor’s garden every evening. I’ve developed a relationship of respect and curiosity with the elusive snake. He was obviously wise enough to stay out of sight in the daylight, and I had to respect an animal that had figured that out. That’s probably why he’s grown to be so big when all the other snake tracks in the sand are tiny in comparison.

The other night I was walking home from the neighbor’s where we’d been enjoying a fine dinner. As darkness approached the weather turned chilly so I headed home to change into my jeans and boots. Walking the short distance from his house to mine in the dark, with no flashlight or a stick, made me feel vulnerable, especially as I approached the spot in the road that the big snake tracks were. I realized that his MO was to stay out of sight, and although I was curious to see him, I didn’t want to do so in the dark. So I remembered a trick my friend in V Town taught me when we were hiking in the High Uintas—make noise. He used to sing a song to let the bears know we were in the area, so I decided I better make some noise and let the big snake know I was coming. I tried talking at first and that just seemed ridiculous, so I attempted singing. No song lyrics came to mind, and although I’m sure my horrendous attempts to sing a made-up song had all living creatures running for cover, I felt like an idiot so I switched to whistling. Trying not to get creeped out about making the walk alone, I started whistling the them to Andy Griffith. It was the only song I could remember and I whistled it loud and proud as I made my way down the road. It must have worked, because I didn’t get a glimpse of the big snake.

The heat is horrible! At least midday and into late afternoon. Today I wanted to finish the book Water for Elephants, and my knee is still a little tender, with a nasty scab that hurts like heck when I bump it or rub it against something, so I took to the couch. The thermometer registered 95 degrees in the shade. The patio was shaded by the palapa, and with the patio screen doors open there was a slight breeze blowing. Wet with perspiration from the humdity, I found that if I lay still on the couch in front of the doors, when the warm breeze hits your wet body, it created a tiny shock wave of coolness. So I got comfy on the couch and jumped into the book. After a while my neck was getting little kinked so I decided it was time to turn over onto my other side. I laid the book on my chest and plotted my best move to turn over and readjust my knee without scraping it. Then I couldn’t remember if I put bug guard on this morning, or if Becky just spritzed me as she passed the couch. I wasn’t getting bitten by bugs, which is rare, so obviously I had at least half of my body covered. The question was, if I turned over would the other side of me get bitten? I glanced around the coffee table to see if the little brown bottle of the bug guard was near, but it wasn’t. I eventually decided that I would cover up with my blankie, which was on the back of the couch, if I needed to. It couldn’t get any hotter. I executed my roll well, careful not to scrape my knee, I propped myself up comfortably on the couch, with enough support for both reading and napping. I was good for at least another hour. I was mastering the huerta. I laid my head back against the pillows and waited for a breeze to cool me down from my efforts. Burrowed back in to the couch, I looked outside and saw Senor Iggie staring at me from the top of the Cardon. Mocking me probably.

I have watched Senor Iggie for about three weeks now. He”s nearly two feet long and lives in the Cardon above the swimming pool. Initially he scurried into his hole, which is in the side of the cardon near the top. Eventually he started sticking his head out of his hole to check us out. Recently he’s blatantly sprawled across the top of the cardon, watching our goings-on and listening to our banter. If someone gets in the pool then he will slowly crawl back into his hole, but keeps his head poked out to keep an eye on us. I’ve watched him for hours, with binoculars, to see any kind of movement. I don’t understand how he can sit on top of the huge stickers of the cardon and not get stuck. I got bored after watching him for ten minutes and not so much as a tongue flicker. I quit watching. Then there was nothing else to do and I was bored again, so I started watching again. I feel a little sorry for him when you consider that his entire life consists of his hole and the top of his cardon. Maybe he’s depressed, I don’t know. Apparently Iggie and I are not as different as I thought.

“My bags are packed, I’m ready to go…” I’ve been listening to John Denver’s version of “I’m leaving on a jet plane” when I jog, which I did at sunrise this morning. It was much nicer and not nearly as hot, and gave me time to reflect on my time here, as well as where I’m going. This morning we met Janet at Cerritos Beach. After two months of watching the waves crash onto the beach, fascinated yet afraid, today was my day to swim in the ocean. Cerritos is a more mellow beach, better suited for swimming. The beach is flat so although the waves crash several yard out in the ocean, the water swirls up onto the beach, where it sits for a brief second before getting sucked back out to the sea. In that split second the water all around me stood still, and I could see little fish swimming around my ankles and shells floating in the water.

We waded out until the water was about waist high, then Janet suddenly dove underneath an oncoming wave. As I watched her pop up on the other side of the churning water I was impressed, then I was pummeled by the wave and knocked on my ass. Salt water filled my eyes and my nose and before I knew it I was washed up on the beach like a piece of driftwood. It wasn’t that the wave was dangerously big, I just wasn’t paying attention and didn’t anticipate its force. Janet explained how you can dive into the wave, under it actually, and you don’t feel the force of the wave. “Or of course, you can just turn around and when the wave hits you jump and surf it in.” That sounded better than diving under the hundreds of gallons of water as it came crashing forward, so we all prepared ourselves for the next wave. As soon as it hit I jumped forward a little bit and suddenly I was riding along in the white frothy bubbles of the top of the wave. It carried me all the way to the shore, where I simply put my feet down and stood up. It was incredible. All the time I’ve watched the waves I’ve been enchanted with the white frothy water that bubbles up to the top of the wave before it crashes in on itself. Now I was actually riding along with it, part of the waves that I’ve watched.

Pretty soon I was hoping for bigger waves to carry me away, and after swimming nearly to the point of exhaustion I headed back to get a drink of water from my bag on the beach. I was dragging my feel along the bottom of the water as the wave came in, and I felt something wrap around my ankle. I quickly shook my foot and hopped around a little in the water, then realized it didn’t feel like anything bit me or stung me so I was probably going to be okay. The water surrounding me started receding quickly back out to sea, and there, in the sand mere inches from my feet, was a stingray. I have no idea what kind, I don’t even know if it was a stinging kind. It laid flat at my feet for a moment, then began flapping his flat arms, or fins, or I don’t even know what it’s called, but it managed to get turned around before leisurely flipping/floating its way back down the beach to the ocean. It was a crazy sight to see a flat, purplish blob make its way across the beach.

We returned home for a leisurely afternoon of laundry and lounging, including an afternoon dip in the pool to cool off. I can’t believe I leave in two days, it seems like I just got here, but it also seems like I’ve been absorbed into another world. I will miss this place, its been an incredible getaway for me and I’ve met so many interesting people. Jorge, the old man who runs the tienda that I buy cigarettes at, taught me how to say red in spanish (roho) and I taught him how to say red in english. We smiled at each other and he giggles as I left. I will definitely miss Jorge. The ladies of P Town have been phenomenal, and are truly incredible women.

Sitting in the airport in Cabo waiting for my flight it seems like I was just here yesterday. The time has flown by, and I’m already thinking about when I can return. I would love to take a house here for a month or so and invite family and friends to come for vacation. I’m amazed at how my perceptions have changed during my journey. I remember the first day I arrived and saw a scorpion dead on the road, it creeped me out and gave me the willies. As we were leaving this morning, I saw a dead scorpion on the road, and it affected me about as much as if I had seen a smashed ant on the road. No fear, no creepies, no crawlies.

Looking out the window of the airport I’m surrounded by mountains, and it feels just like sitting in the airport in Salt Lake. Except this airport’s about one tenth the size of SLC, and the extend of their security measure involved opening my checked bag and rifling through the contents, then walking through the metal detectors where I didn’t have to take off my shoes or go through my bags. It’s as surreal as when I came here, only reversed now. I’m leaving the world of leisure, heat and a different culture, going back to a world I’ve always known, but now seems foreign to me.

August 11, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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