I have tried to think of an analogy that would adequately describe the days as they roll past and the only one I can conjure is over-used and cliché, but most accurate. The days are so much like the waves as they push away from the shore. Sometimes they are hyperactive and frenetic, slapping the sand ferociously on their glorious way back out to sea, joyous. Other time they are lazy and flat, unworried about time or activity, relaxed.
Throughout some of the days, the wind has been particularly grumpy, swirling the waves into angry fists pounding the shore and generally cooling our skin. In the early morning or late at night, it’s actually cool enough to wear long sleeves or a pashmina.
One night the sea preacher shows up, talking to the stars, admonishing the ocean gods. He half sings, half shouts; John says he’s been here a lot this year. Perhaps the sea gods have not been good to him - yet.
They have certainly not been good to our poor Las Brisas. Still so many vacant sales and rentals. In an area of friendly, neighbourly people just trying to make a living.
Marta had put a lovely glass vase and pretty flowers in our unit when we arrived; the vase becomes one of the victims of the capricious wind.
On Sundays, Vince and John and Scott often go to the local baseball game, one of which Vince films. In the background, we can hear a passionate fan shouting in Spanish. He thinks one of his players is safe and when he finds out it’s the opposite, we learn more Mexican swear words.
I am on a writing roll: I send three chapters to Kristen in the space of four days: a record, I think. We all spend a lot of time reading, then sharing our perceptions. (Although I do get carried away one night telling everyone about Northern Lights, the story of Tom Thomson.) I finish the book of letters between Al Purdy & Margaret Laurence: this is a book I will reread for inspiration for sure, both for my own writing and for Crime Writers of Canada. I think it’s utterly brilliant.
Most days we spend by the beach under the umbrella, on the patio/deck by the pool, or on our balconies overlooking the sea. We watch the ships coming in and out of the harbor, try to guess what is happening. The “ghost ship” stays for over two weeks. Crews show up now and then on barges and little boats to do…even in our binoculars, we can’t tell. Sometimes it appears that they are diving to fix what I call the thingies underneath. It’s fascinating to follow these ships, heavy with cartage or light and speedy as they leave again. Now and then, a cruise ship appears, but sadly, not very many.
The birds are endlessly dazzling. Swooping low over our heads or soaring high, they go about their business with us as voyeurs. Eating, diving, skimming, hovering. We can see through their wings sometimes as they dance across the sunlight. Even the turkey vultures are beautiful in the sky.
The crabs provide some comic relief with their googly eyes and speedy races over the sand.
Every morning, Graziella and Marta, usually followed by little Andres, clean up around the pool and the shared areas. They have a little puppy now, Camilla, who nips at everybody’s heels. Her face is tri-coloured and gorgeous; with her big eyes and baby legs, she is adorable. She rolls over for us to pet her soft pink tummy. Nacho and son, Nachito, are mostly gone all day this year: they have a thriving construction/carpentry business. Good for them, of course, but we miss their smiles and Nachito’s languorous ways. The family atmosphere is comforting and familiar for all of us; the Buenos dias somehow guarantees a wonderful day.
Although I am being more careful than usual, damnably cold beer tastes so great on the beach. Of course there are instances when I forget myself and drink a little too much, though I am trying hard to resist. Even Scott has been drinking a bottle of wine on occasion!
I often fill up a pitcher of lemon water and drink it instead, or sip on flavored green tea. Especially if I’ve overindulged the night before.
I keep myself absolutely slathered in sun block, cover RPB with Vaseline in the pool, and generally take care not to be in the sun too much. Sitting here in the hallway between the pool, where I can see the waves and feel the ocean breeze, when I am inspired to write, is wonderful.
Most evenings, we play cards or occasionally, dice. If there are more than the five of us, we play under the lights of the palapa to the rhythm of the ocean next to us. We have a lot of laughs over the game and each other. On Oscar night, we have a small party and are underwhelmed by the show, though we stick with it.
For a week, we are happy to have company. Maire’s two sisters, Rosaleen and Cathy, with Cathy’s husband Bernard, come to stay. Unfortunately, Rosaleen is not well at first, but she simply sleeps it off. We do what we usually do: the aforementioned sitting on the beach. We bring them to Bricio’s for breakfast and El Caribe for dinner. In fact, we go to El Caribe a couple of times, because Martin is leaving and the restaurant is closing. Now it sits empty and we miss those coconut and tequila shrimp, not to mention Martin’s famous guacamole! One day, Cathy sees a sky encounter between a small cormorant and a bigger bird. The injured duck gets tossed into the waves and disappears. The next morning, we find it on beach the beach, struggling to survive. Cathy asks if there is an animal rescue for birds, but there is not: it’s too often an occurrence, simply the struggle of life and death. But as it begins to pant and roll on the sand, someone comes along and swiftly, kindly, puts it out of its misery. It’s still heartbreaking to watch.
We take Cathy and Bernard to the market and Juanito’s. We visit Bricio’s one evening because Vince and Scott are craving a hamburger and French fries: hambugesa y papas fritas. On Sunday, we all walk down to the pier. There’s a Mexican family fiesta happening on the beach. Kids frolic in the water, music blares, people are sharing picnic food and beer. It’s wonderful.
One evening at El Caribe we are joined by Mike and Carol. Mike works with John at Avis. Since we are sitting next to one another, Carol and I talk, and quickly discover that we live not too far from each other in Brampton. Turns out they know our former neighbours and friends, Diane and Paul. We are all compelled to hum It’s a Small World After All…
Another day, we visit Mike and Carol in their condo (not on the beach, but lovely), and Maire and John consider booking there next year: until we walk back into Las Flores and feel the ocean breeze and hear those waves.
We make a trek to Miramar, where the beach is flat and wavy. I go into the ocean up to my knees, trying to keep RPB from drying up in the salt, but oh I miss those boogie boarding days!! They’ll be back, I’m sure…maybe not this visit, though.
When we get off the bus, Cathy and Bernard encounter a blind man trying to cross the road. They decide to help him. They try hard to speak Spanish, but he doesn’t appear to understand. Bernard tries some sign language, then realizes that won’t work. Eventually, as they attempt to strong-arm him across, they understand that he’s waiting for the bus himself. He doesn’t want to cross the road. Of course, we tease them and make up stories about why did the blind man cross the road?
There are copious opportunities to shop on the beach, especially at Miramar, though we have our favorites back at Las Flores too. Once we even do some shopping while we’re aqua-fitting in our pool. One of the sellers doesn’t have change, so she appears a few days later with John’s cambia. Another time, she leaves all of her wares in order to scamper back to the store and find a colour someone wants. Amazing.
Bernard has lost his passport and it isn’t turned in as the week wears on, so they are forced to leave a day early. Luckily, though, with Martin’s help and a visit to Puerto Vallarta’s Canadian consulate, he is issued a temporary one and they return home without too much trouble.
The days continue rolling on, in their wondrous way. We share meals – Vince’s chicken and veggies one night, John’s bean soup another – or we go out.
On the day that Japan is devastated by an earthquake, Nacho wakes us up early to say there is a tsunami warning along the coast and he wants to take us to higher ground. We ride in the back of his truck, with Nachito, while Gracie, Marta and Camilla ride up front. We arrive at the place where Nacho’s sister and her family live and work. It’s a beautiful building that offers a program called Isha, which I will research some time. We are deposited on a huge, open, marble balcony, overlooking Audiencia Bay. It’s stunning. Over the long wait, we read, talk, nap, stare at the sea, and listen to music. Nacho also brings Christine and Lorraine, who used to stay at Las Flores and who have remained friends. Fortunately, nothing happens – the ocean remains flat and oblivious to what’s happening many miles away. We take cabs home and go to bed early.
And the days roll…