Monday, December 1, 2014

A Typical Day In The Neighborhood  
            Take the other day, a typical day, as typical as any day can be when home base is a beach resort on the Pacific coast of Mexico. We’d eaten tropical fruit and sweet rolls, in a café overlooking the beach. Then we pulled lounges beneath the palm fronds of a palapa and watched the waves rolling, fish jumping, shrimp boats trolling by the islands, and the ferry from La Paz smoking up the horizon. That activity easily consumed a couple hours.

            We lamented that we have so few days left to do things together. Over the past year we made plans to do many things, go many places. Our list never made it on paper and just as well. Kathy and I have not marked off half the items in these five weeks hanging out with one another. Our intentions are good. Follow through mediocre. Distractions great. See above.

            “You know what we haven’t done?” asked Kathy.

            “Almost everything,” I responded. “What do you have in mind?”

            “Massage with Elena.” Elena is my magical wise woman massage therapist, with whom I began therapy on my hip and leg but hadn’t seen in weeks, since I started treatments with a sports medicine specialist.

            I picked up my phone and asked Carlos, my friend, interpreter and pulmonia driver, if he were free to take us to Elena. “You be ready in fifteen Mexican minutes,” Carlos responded.

            We dashed upstairs (via elevator—19th floor), and in almost fifteen minutes were outside the lobby to meet Carlos. But Elena was in Cabo San Lucas where she had been called to help out after the devastation of the hurricanes. Elena is famous in Mexico, by word of mouth. I doubt you can Google her. She was flying back that same afternoon. We arranged to meet her the next day.

            Meanwhile, since we had peeled ourselves away from the beach, since we had a driver, since we had time and opportunity. .  .  “Plants,” I said. “Carlos, por favor, can you take us to a neighborhood nursery. I want plants.”  I had three beautiful clay pots I’d bought in San Marcos, a year ago. When we painted my apartment a couple weeks ago, we had moved my camp chairs, a coffee table and my easel into a covered part of the courtyard to create an outdoor “room”. Filling the pots would make me feel truly nested and satisfy my latent farmer. 

On the way to the plants, we drove by a tortilla “factory”.  “Stop!” Kathy shouted. “Can we back up so I can see this.” “This” was a ten by ten meter room with an open window to the street. A man plunked a huge ball of dough into the hopper of the machine. Out the other end the machine spit perfect tortillas which progressed on a moving rack through an oven and continued rolling to a platform where a woman stacked them for sale. We were invited inside to watch. Before we left we bought a dozen tortillas for four pesos, sprinkled them with salt, and ate them warm.

We zipped down a couple side streets to the nursery. I wanted everything. This happens. I get this urge to have a house, a yard, a garden again. Then I think through the process, remember how much work it requires and the want fades. I focused on greenery suitable for my shady courtyard and picked three plants more than my pots could comfortably hold. But, truly, I didn’t take half what I still wanted.

Carlos lugged my bags of soil and my boxes of plants through my apartment and back to the courtyard for me. Blessings on that young man. Kathy and I filled pots, created beauty, washed our dirty hands and walked the long way around, back to the resort, a few blocks south.

Tomorrow is a big day. In the early morning we go back to Elena’s for “yesterday’s” massage. Kathy’s husband Richard is flying in for his three week vacation. They will kick me to the curb. My bag is packed. I’ll return to my apartment to enjoy my newly painted walls, my corner courtyard “room”, my small pot garden, and resume my own routine of typical days. Today we celebrate Mexico’s Revolution. That must be a good omen.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

November 20, 2014

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