Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Ups and Downs of the Elevated Life

The Ups and Downs of the Elevated Life
            For years, I’ve been privileged to be Kathy’s guest, generally on the twenty-fourth floor of the El Moro Tower, fronting the Great Pacific Ocean, in Mazatlan.  

            When we were young and foolish, we might, and I hedge my bets, have run up and down the stairway for exercise; an attempt to balance the effects of the rich food nobody forced down our gullets. We might have. If we were young. And foolish.

            Without hesitation, we head for the elevators. (In all fairness, I’ve never seen anybody exit the stairway aglow in the blush of health, dripping sweat and breathing hard.)

            If one pays attention, one begins to notice certain quirks and behaviors of elevator etiquette. I’m serious.

            Those from the States, Canada and northern Europe enter the elevator, poker faced, face forward, and utter not a word until their destination is reached. And, e-gads, no eye contact! Once off the elevator, they might speak.

            People from Mexico, Central and South America and southern Europe, all ages, enter with greetings, smiles, laughing and chattering all the while. (When did we become such glum lots? Why?)

            I suppose I might be accused of bigotry, but I observe that peoples of northern versus southern European extraction have varying cultural tendencies. Liquor, consumed by the northern batch, does seem to level the playing field.

            My favorite experience this trip was when a family got on the elevator with me, their arms loaded with beach gear, heading down. The father looked over his family and pointing at each child in order of height, counted out uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis. He nodded, grinned at me and winked.

What goes up must come down.

Good-byes make me cry. Good-bye to Anna for an update on Carlitos condition—we are hopeful. Good-bye to Reuben and Sylvia, at the loncheria next to my old apartment, where we had the best and most simple meal we had in all Mazatlan. Good-bye, Ocean. Good-bye, Mazatlan.

            Sunday Kathy, Crin and I boarded the bus with mixed feelings. We love Mazatlan. Hate to leave. We love Etzatlan. Love to come back. From seaside to mountains, down and up.

            Two months ago the hills all around, from Tepic to Guadalajara, began to burn. Wild fires. Old-timers, confirmed by meteorologists, tell us this is the driest year they remember. We had hoped, to no avail, for early rains.

            Out the bus windows, we saw the devastation, hillsides looking like untreated wounds. Many trees in this area lose their leaves in the spring when new leaf shoots force the old leaf to the ground. With dry grasses, crispy-crunchy leaves and no rain since last fall, fires race through, burning where the winds take them. The blackened landscape reminded me of the year Montana burned.

            Once home we scattered to our own casas, dragging zipper-threatened suitcases, twice as heavy as they were when we each left home. Perhaps I neglected to mention we shopped. Necessary shopping, of course.

            Oh, so good to be home. While I was gone, Leo and Josue built me a new patio roof, insulated to deflect summer sun, installed new gate lamps, created a tile roof for a small bodega attached to the side of my house where my propane tank and garden tools reside and replaced my windows and screens, all new, all the way around.

            But, before I could admire the new, I had to tour my garden, touch the flowers, praise my “five dead trees”, now in full leaf and shooting out promises of flowers in two weeks.

            Back to my house. Inside the house, furniture, cabinets, my desk, all had to be moved to install new windows; outside, the flower pots which line the perimeter got shifted. I have work to do to put things back in order. No hurry. I’ll work manana.

In Mexico, “manana” is a flexible word. Maybe in the morning, maybe next week. Today I’ll enjoy being home. Every project on my list for home-fixing is done. At last.

            Hmmm. I wonder if a gazebo could be built around my back yard patio, that corner space beneath the jacaranda. If I had a simple screened gazebo, I could sit in comfort during mosquito and black fly season. I’ll talk to my guys about it.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

May 11, 2017

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