Trailer Park Nirvana image created by Stefany Kleeschulte.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


...a friend kissed me. Passionately.
...a calico cat showed up on my porch, healthy and gringo-ish. Then disappeared. agent sent a form letter rejection letter and I didn't care.
...she doesn't remember the suicide pact we made last night. Is it bad form to remind her or do I let it go?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cha-Chinga tu Madre!

I was in the Melodrama trying to find an avocado. You know, like the ones you find in the U.S. that come from Mexico. Well they must all be in the north because here we only have overly-ripe shriveled up avocados the size of prunes. Anyway, in the Melodrama (which is really the Modelorama) I ran into a Mexican friend of mine. He was very excited. He said “Christmas has come early to Kino” and right away I knew what his story would be.

Last week I got a call from a friend. “Get over to the ATM. It’s giving out 500 peso notes instead of 100 notes. You’ve got to choose the 3,000 amount for it to work. Go right now.” For those not familiar with Mexican currency think of 100 pesos as ten dollars and 500 as fifty. Which means the ATM machine was dispensing 15,000 pesos for 3,000. Or at the current exchange rate, my $214 would garner me $1200.

There was someone else at the ATM closet so I waited for them to finish then I went in. I went through all the steps, heard the comforting whir of money being gathered up, then the money door opened and there were 30 freshly printed 500 peso notes. I didn’t even think of running my card again. I was too shocked at having hit the jackpot so I went back to my car and called my friend. “It worked.” She said she was almost there.

A lot of gringos got a lot of money that day. Most people double-dipped. I was too caught up in a moral dilemma to do that. I grabbed a beer and headed to the beach by the estuary. I needed to calm myself. The guilt I felt was intense. This was a Mexican bank – had it been BofA or Wells Fargo I would’ve taken as much money as the machine held. Did I have any Mexican friends with ATM cards? Why shouldn’t they take advantage of this? I felt anxious. What if the bank here contacts our banks there and somehow demands the correct amount be withdrawn from our accounts? I barely had enough in my account to cover that two hundred bucks. I felt jealous, all these rich gringos having the cojones to swipe their cards twice. I felt grateful that my friend called me, knowing my dire financial straits. I felt like it was karma. For some reason I’d become the local loan dolphin (too nice to be a shark) and I’d been hit up for a lot of “loans” lately. What about the poor worker who filled the machine wrong or did whatever was done to cause it to do that?

After sorting through all those feelings I felt much better. I still would’ve loved to have hit up the machine one more time but when I drove by, the armored truck was there. I took it as a sign.

There sure were a bunch of happy gringos out that night, buying rounds of drinks, celebrating. And I must say, most of the rich gringos had generous plans for their money, like helping pay hospital bills for local kids, stuff like that.

So I’m at the Melodrama and my friend says he got a call at midnight “Go to the ATM machine,” that it was giving out 500 peso notes. The mishap was no longer confined to withdrawing 3,000 pesos. You only have 100 pesos in your account? No problema, here’s 500. He said when he got to the ATM half the town was lined up at the machine and that when the cops came by to see what was going on, they got in line too. He said teachers were there and doctors. My friend doesn’t have a debit card but I didn’t see one ounce of jealousy in him. He was so happy for everyone else. He knows that somehow the whole town will reap the benefits of that Money God.

My friend is sure it’s going to happen again and when it does, he’s going to call me. I said if he did that I’d split my winnings with him 50/50.

On Thanksgiving day it poured here, in this town where it never rains. It rained all day long. All the roofs leaked. The roads were flooded muddy messes. Life is not easy here. But it’s just been made a little bit easier thanks to newly minted 500 peso notes that were in the wrong slots or stuck together or look a lot like 100 peso notes. Whatever the reason...CHA-CHING YA'LL!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How many years do you have?

After such an awful start to my day yesterday - where I stood at the end of the muelle and contemplated jumping into the water because my life sucks - the rest of the day ended up being one of the best days ever. Pretty much it was that scolding by the pelican. He didn't hold back and was brutal in his assessment of my situation. He gave me a much-needed dope slap.

Around 1:30 I took a friend to the beach where I have pretty good luck finding potato chip shells. The tide was heading out and there were mounds and mounds of shells everywhere. There are no tide pools here but when the tide is low various sandbars are exposed and walking on those gives the appearance and feel of walking on water.

In the distance we saw kids sliding down a sand dune and as they ran past us a little boy shouted out "good morning!" My friend said "good afternoon. It's afternoon." The boy skidded to a stop and came over to where we were standing. The girls - about six of them - followed. The boy was eager to show off his English and, of course, we encouraged him with compliments and minor corrections on words and pronunciation.

One little girl was still in costume from the parade. Parade is desfile in Spanish, my word of the day.

These are the things Mexicans ask you when you first meet.
What is your name?
Are you married?
How many kids do you have?
How old are you? which translated from the Spanish is how many years do you have?

Apparently it is not rude to ask strangers - older strangers - how many years they have so the little boy asked me cuantos anos tiennes? I said "Yo tengo muchos anos." That did not satisfy him - he wanted an exact number - so as the girls gathered around I gave them the number. Hands slapped foreheads. Eyes rolled. Gasps escaped little mouths. That is a lot of years!!!!

Then one by one we were told their names and ages; names like Cassandra, Veronica, Julio, the years ranging from 2 to 11.

Two moms finally caught up with the kids and after a little more chit-chat the group took off down the beach. The kids shouted bye while we called out adios.

Shell-gathering was a success. My friend and I each found a perfect sand dollar. Our plastic bags were full of potato chip shells. We had walked for three hours. My knees and hips were not happy. My friend's back was complaining.

At the trailer I changed clothes then headed off to New Kino to be with friends. It was a perfect ending to what had started out as a really crappy day.

At this point do I throw in a quote from Jimmy Buffet or the Law of Attraction? Both have something to do with changes in attitude - and listening to our inner pelican.

Monday, November 21, 2011

La Revolucion 2011

My day started with a social anxiety attack. (Yes, I still get those.) 
So I wandered over to the muelle to commune with the pelicans.

After the pelican gave me a good talking to 
I headed to town to catch the beginning of the parade.

 The classes and organizations carry banners to identify their groups.

 During the revolution, women fought along side the Zapatistas. 

Angel is too little to be in the parade.

 So he watched his brothers...Brandon (all in white) and...

...Alayn (who's in the front with the girls, a lot like his dad).

Saul pulled his panga Michelle.

Simon the plant man from Hermosillo had to wait out the parade.

Love these box kids (or whatever they are).

 Jose walked the parade route with his boy...


The morning ended where it began, looking at the water, 
this time watching people from the States climb aboard their sailboat and motor away....

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunset Sunday 20 November 2011

 These photos are from tonight's sunset beginning at 4:58 pm and ending at 5:51.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Leaving Portland

It was on this day seven years ago that I left Portland, Oregon, my home of 20 years. I decided to post an excerpt from my book describing that day.

The RV park outside Portland. Freya Too (the Airstream) and Vanna.

I was pushing my weather luck by waiting until mid-November to head south, risking slippery roads from rain or snow as I crossed the Siskiyous at the Oregon/California border. But the morning I left Portland the skies were clear, not even the occasional fair weather cumulus or feathery cirrus. It was as though the Pacific Northwest had given me an all systems go for take off. I set about getting ready to hit the road. Because I was on my own with no one to direct it took about fifteen minutes to line up Vanna’s tow ball to the Airstream’s tongue. I’d back up Vanna, get out and check distance and angle, pull forward, back up, get out. The trailer looked closer to the van than it was. Okay, back up some more. Shit, too far. Finally, it was just right. I lowered the tongue onto the hitch then raised it a little to make sure it was firmly attached.
Next I went down the checklist of “hitting the road chores” like unhooking the television cable and electricity and battening down the hatches. Everything went fairly smoothly but I couldn’t get the chocks out from between the wheels. Just when I needed help, one of the neighbors who had never spoken to me showed up. After a bit of a struggle he managed to wrestle the chocks free from their bed of tires.
It was time to leave Portland.
I pulled out of my space very, very slowly. Remember, I had only towed Freya Too once before. The park was rather maze-like so several turns were necessary to get to the entrance on the top level. The trailer followed like a well-behaved dog on a leash. Good girl. I crept over speed bumps. Finally at the gate I turned onto the frontage road, stopped at the red light at the intersection, waited. At the green light, more creeping. I now knew why old fart RVers drove so slow. I’d probably never flip one off again. I looked in my rearview mirror. It was disconcerting not having a view of the traffic behind me. Seeing the silver trailer caught me off guard, as though some huge semi-truck was tailgating me, riding my ass. I couldn’t see around her. Oh yeah, the side mirrors. On the freeway entrance ramp my foot shook as it hovered over the gas pedal. Jesus, what in the hell had I been thinking? Can I really do this? Fortunately, traffic was light. I felt tremendous relief after merging onto I-84 without merging with another vehicle. I crept over to the middle lane and stayed there, constantly checking the rearview mirror to make sure the trailer was there because I didn’t feel her. There was no pull. Vanna didn’t seem bothered by the additional weight.
That first day I didn’t get too far, stopping at an RV park just off the highway a little south of Roseburg, Oregon. I was worried about the drive facing me the next day - the climb over the Siskiyous with the subsequent descent which would drop me into California. How would the van do, towing that trailer up a four thousand foot climb? What scared me more than the idea of going up was the coming down. Van brakes, trailer brakes – would they hold?
A trick I learned crossing the Siskiyous was to stay with the semi-trucks. When they pulled over to the far right truck lane, I followed. That way I could go as slow as I wanted without worrying about holding up traffic. Coming down the mountain, I stayed with the trucks, dropping the van into a lower gear.
Making it over that mountain, not encountering snow or rain, not burning out my brakes or having the trailer come unhitched thus reaching California before I did, I figured the worst was over.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Senior Camp

We were on our way home after a fun day in Hermosillo - ATM at bank Santander (no fees!), hair color from Sally's at Mall Galerias, expensive steak lunch at Palominos, grocery shopping at Mega and Costco - and as we neared Kino I tried not to panic over what was awaiting me back home: Neighbors.

As I sit at the computer typing this I look out the window and instead of an open space with palm trees and sparkling water beyond I see a white wall with a blue stripe down the side. The neighbors' motor home.

I wake at 6:30 to a sound I'm gotten unaccustomed to. The neighbor opening a bin in the motor home's "basement." Their lights are on, they've been up for hours. I know their habits as they surely know mine.

I'm irritated by every sound I hear coming from the space next door. What the hell is that shuffling noise? What's he doing now? Jesus, they're retired...can't they sleep in? I know it could be worse. It could be that lady who smokes who spends hours each morning coughing up her lungs. It could be that guy who called Obama the "n" word. It could be those people whose space is a pigsty. Did I mention they beat each other up? Or how about the pedophile? Or the guy who takes naked photos of young girls and putas? Or Flo with her constantly barking dogs? Did I mention they bite?

Already the senior citizens are acting like high school seniors over the issue of dogs. Get this: the park now has rules about dogs. The dogs must be on leashes. The owners must pick up dogshit. Holy crap!! Say it ain't so. The snowbirds say "the park dogs shit in the park, why can't ours?" What? Now we're in grade school?

As I said to my friends yesterday, I have two options: find a new place to live (not another RV park) or rise above it all. Until a secluded RV space lands in my lap, I guess I'll have to practice the fine art of rising above the dramas. I'll take deep calming breaths before I exit the trailer door. I'll be cheerful and say "I missed you guys" to every returning snowbird.

Oh how I long for those 112 degree humid days with electricity surges and brown-outs. How I miss the warm  Sea of Cortez water. I miss weekends packed with partying folks from Hermosillo, Ciudad Juarez, with the smells of carne asada, blaring ranchero music.

In a nutshell, I miss Mexico.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Spanish Word of the Day: Mariposa

My first and only attempt at writing "morning pages" from the instruction manual "The Artist's Way" led to porn. Maybe porn is too harsh a word. How about erotica? I guess I was channeling Anais Nin. Perhaps she had been my morning muse that particular morning.

So after a wee bit of should I/shouldn't I?, I decided to go ahead and post Venus Butterfly. I'll put in a page break so anyone who's squeamish about this sort of stuff can bail. For the rest of you....

Venus Butterfly

I wish I could better remember the details.
Somewhere around 18 or 19 years old – before my door-to-door encyclopedia job or maybe after my daughter was born and before the University of Missouri job – I answered a newspaper ad for a receptionist.
These are the things I do remember: being dressed appropriately secretary-like, a small dark office, interviewed by a man whose age, hair color, level of attractiveness are unclear.
Was there a front office, a reception area, a second desk with an ink blotter and a cup holding pens and pencils?
How did the man describe the business to me? Did he use the words “sex toys” or were they implied?
At the end of our interview he said something like “if you come back tonight, meet me for dinner, the job is yours.” Something like that.
I know I didn’t want to appear na├»ve, freaked out so I said something like “okay, what time?” Of course I didn’t go back and I never told anyone about that job interview.
But what if I had gone back, met up with the man in that dark office to have dinner? How would that one yes have changed my life?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Spanish Word(s) of the Day: flaco y gordo

A friend is visiting Kino and we've been exploring beaches I've not been able to get to in my Ford Econoline van. He's got a nifty new Toyota that seems to be able to climb every dune so the other day we made a trip north to the Seri village of Punta Chueca. My friend had admired a sandstone carving I have of a fish - Nemo the Seris call it - and so we were on a finding Nemo quest.

If you're going to the Seri villages of Punta Chueca or Desembuque bring items to trade. Even if you're set on buying a basket, the price will come down (but only so far) if you have stuff to trade. The Seris want mostly clothes, knives, scissors, fishing line, cups, plates. Once at the village be prepared to be descended upon by women with baskets, shell necklaces, ironwood and sandstone carvings. I know quite a few women from the village - the ones who come into Kino to trade - and so it was fun seeing familiar faces. And although I'm not fearful of going out to the villages, I do dislike being marked as a rich gringa - especially in that fancy Toyota - so I felt better knowing that these women know I'm a poor gringa who lives in an aluminum trailer.

We were looking for Josefina, whose husband is the sandstone carver. Hortensia placed a little girl, Melinda, on my lap and had her direct us to Josefina's house. Josefina's sons told us their mom was in Desembuque so our finding Nemo mission had come to a halt. They said they'd tell her we were looking for her and sure enough she and her husband and daughter showed up at my trailer the next day with a little sandstone Nemo.

After unsuccessfully bartering over baskets - and giving out scoopfuls of Halloween candy - we headed north to explore the beaches.

At our first stop we came across this dead caguama, a type of sea turtle.

But across the way we could see a large sandspit that extended way out into the Gulf of California, almost to the island of Tiburon so we struck out for that. No problema for the little Toyota that could.

We walked wayyyyyy down to the end of the spit. Not a lot of shells on this beach but the ones that were there were very interesting. Check out these starfish:

The one on the left, flaco (skinny), and the one on the right gordo (fat). The skinny and the fatty. I couldn't place a coin next to them for size comparison - all I have are pesos and that wouldn't help most of you - so I took a group shot of the starfish I gathered on that beach. The squares in the tablecloth are about 3/4 inch squares.

We ended the day watching the sunset from the porch at Jorge's.