Old, Fat and Frumpy; Standing On the Street of Desire
Finally we made the trip to Etzatlan, near Guadalajara, to visit my friend Loni. I did not make the trip solo. Lupe watched me struggle to secure a bus ticket and said, “Let me take time off work. We’ll drive. Roshanna Vanna wants a road trip.”
I believe Lupe had visions of me stranded, totally lost and alone, begging outside the bus terminal in Tepic. I had already had that vision. Ever prepared, I planned to take pencils and paper. I could write letters for people who have a hard time saying what they want to say to those they love or to those they hate. The language barrier might even be a plus. I could listen to my clients voice and heart and write what I heard, which would then have to be translated by the recipient of the letter. This could be a good business model, one with the potential for, well, potential.
As it was, I came unwittingly close to another ancient business model on our return when we stopped in Tepic. But that was on the way home.
Mexico is a country of startling beauty. We drove through Sinaloa, a state that hugs the coast, into Nayarit which starts the climb up through ancient volcanic mountains and still higher into Jalisco. I wanted a guide, a botanist and books depicting the flora. I saw trees so spectacular I had to bow down, blooms which blanketed entire mountainsides, next to oddities such as a stunted little tree with perfectly round tumor-looking balls stuck out of both trunk and branches. Lupe said the balls are the fruit of the tree and both balls and bark are used medicinally.
My cousin Nancie and friend Loni were determined to move me to Etzatlan. There just happened to be three haciendas for sale. They just knew one called my name. The brick haciendas, beautifully built in modest size and Mexcian style, are located at the entrance of a working ranch. Tempting, but my heart is in Mazatlan.
We explored town and country, soaked at hot spring pools in Ixtlan Del Rio, visited potters in San Marcos and Magdalena where I bought a clay olla or bean pot, a casuela and flower pots. Imagine lugging those heavy pots home on the bus! We climbed a mountaintop to a shrine, picnicked, played cards, visited neighbors. We froze to death each night when thermometers plunged into the low forties. I know. You don’t feel one bit sorry for me. But the houses are not heated. The sun is turned on from mid-morning to about five-thirty. Then it shuts down for the night.
On the drive home, we plunged right into the historic district of Tepic, to roam the market. But first we had to park. Picture dropping severely downhill on a side street, swinging a sharp right, through columns with an inch to spare each side, up an even steeper ramp into a teensy parking garage. I closed my eyes and held my breath, certain sure the side panels would be sheared off.
The Tepic market is huge, bustling with everybody selling everything imaginable. I bought a beadwork necklace, fresh ginger and chamomile, a mystery fruit, tamarind candy and a kilo of strawberries. We ate birria de chivo at a street stand. After I licked my bowl, and said, “This is the best beef I ever ate,” Lupe told me it was goat. It was a good goat. After feasting eyes, body and soul, we walked back to retrieve Roshanna.
I’m a good driver. I can make a perfectly fine forty-two-point turn-around. I said to Lupe, “I’ll just wait out here on the street for you to bring her out.”
So there I stood, back against the adobe wall. Across the street strutted a woman wearing the highest shoes I have ever seen. Wow, was she ever dressed. Makeup troweled on. Hairdo cemented into place. She was gorgeous in black. I looked down the street. Another woman leaned against the wall, dressed for the evening in red. I looked further. In all, I saw eight women, all dressed for a night on the town at mid-afternoon.
And there I was. Cut-offs, flowered shirt, flip-flops, scrubbed face, straw hair. Leaning against the same wall. A man walked by, gave me a strange look, grinned, shook his head and kept going. Another man came along, stopped, looked me over head to foot, laughed out loud and went on up the street.
Then I got it. There were no fruit and vegetable vendors on the street of desire; only women of pleasure. I would rather have been huddled outside the bus terminal, writing letters.
HDN: Looking out my back door
January 23, 2014