Trailer Park Nirvana image created by Stefany Kleeschulte.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The beginning of another year

It's been strange, waking to this run of cloudy days in pretty much always-sunny Kino Bay. No rain yet, but  last Thanksgiving it rained hard and constant. It was cold. This year I'm heading to New Mexico to hang out with friends. We plan on spending hours in the jacuzzi with lots of wine. Maybe we'll hit Santa Fe for a day and that little town New Madrid where Wild Hogs was filmed. It's been a long time since I've expanded my life outside of Kino and southern Arizona.

It's also been strange how slow it's been for the snowbirds to return to the trailer park. Usually by this time Flo is planning the Thanksgiving potluck, walking around with a sign-up sheet for mashed potatoes and other side dishes, and there are so many people she's always worried there won't be enough food. So far only one snowbird couple has returned. What's going on? Well, on my row alone one couple sold their place, one man died (and his wife won't be returning), and then next door to me the wifebeater is still in prison in Hermosillo and his wife won't be returning either. A couple years ago the Canadians stopped coming to Mexico, only going as far as Yuma or some place. The Californians who'd been coming for years got too old to make the trip. As of yet, no youngens have cropped up to take their place.

However, an interesting demographic shift has occurred at the trailer park: Full-timers. There are eleven of us now. One couple, three single men and seven single women. The man in the couple said now that they're here full year, they feel territorial about the park and are happy that the snowbirds are slow to arrive. I can so relate! I always dreaded the snowbird return to MY park. The lack of privacy mostly, but the dramas, the petty arguments, the who's not speaking to who, grown-ups indulging in summer camp behavior.

November has always been a month of change for me, way more a beginning than an end, and today is one of my biggest anniversaries - eight years since leaving Portland. As with last year and the year before and the five before that, I am grateful I made that change. But as with previous years, I wonder what's next. So far the what's next has remained the same - entrenched in Kino. Itching to leave, not knowing where to go, making new friends which makes it fine to stay put, waiting for the right time to make a move.

I'll be away for the next two, maybe three weeks. I'm not taking the laptop (this is when I wish I had a Kindle Fire or an Ipad or something). To all you Americans out there, have a great Thanksgiving. As Barbara Bush says, "People spoke. Move on, get on with it." For my Mexican friends, celebrate your hearts out on Dia del Revolucion! For all of you shop local, support your friendly neighborhood artists. (But if ever I can get movies in Mexico on a Kindle Fire, that's going on my Christmas wish list.) I'd send up a prayer for peace in the Middle East but that don't look like it's gonna happen any time soon. To my daughter, I'll be looking for you on t.v. at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. And for the rest of my family, you have no idea how much you are in my heart and thoughts right now.

On that note...I'm out of here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Spanish Word of the Day: Trabajar

My work history is varied - waitress, bookstore clerk, database manager, IT Goddess, data analyst, post office employee, transcriptionist. It's that last one - the one I liked least of all - that's saved my financial ass these past few years. Medical transcription has to be the most boring job I've ever had. Combine typing the same shit over and over (Dear Dr So and So, it was a pleasure seeing your patient Mr. Bad Heart...) with hours of sitting in the same position with your right foot perched above a foot pedal, your hands on the qwerty keyboard, eyes straight ahead and you've made for years of back ache, numb fingers, tingling sensations in the pedal foot, a wide ass and blurry vision.

These days I'm grateful for this transcribing stuff, however. Grateful I can work from home no matter where that home is. And I'm grateful that I've pretty much bagged the medical  work and instead have a pretty varied workload. Confidential restraints limit what I can say about our clients but I think I can get away with describing some of my work starting with my favorite: Internal Affairs investigations.

Ooowheee, there's some crazy shit going on with policemen and firemen. Officer-involved shootings can be pretty run of the mill. The stuff I like are the DUIs and domestic violence calls, hearing the officers try to wrangle out of those. One cop - I swear he was a sociopath - was suing or had been sued by every one of his wives and girlfriends of which he had many. I transcribed hours of his interrogations and that bastard lied, lied, lied, and that's the thing IA hates most - being lied to. I don't know what happened to him. The frustrating thing is after all this drama it's like the book ends with the last chapter torn out. I hope he got canned.

I've done some great interviews and presentations. The most recent was a talk by a healthcare policy wonk. I wanted to share his talk with every anti-"Obamacare" person out there. He described the attempts at healthcare reform going way, way back and the various reasons it got derailed along the way. His talk was clear, concise and funny, healthcare 101 brought down to an understandable level.

There are pharmaceutical company advisory boards which are a challenge, all these doctors talking over each other, drug names so long and complex, mechanisms of action - thank god for the internets! In the old days my desk was burdened with massive medical dictionaries and that giant drug book - the PDR - which had to be updated every year. These days if I can make out a word phonetically Google usually nails it.

Then there's the foreign language stuff. Or rather, African Americans who speak a form of English I have no familiarity with. I need a master's degree in ebonics to really know what they're saying. These are the men and women on the lower rung of the social ladder. It's interesting, when grandma talks, grandma uses correct grammar, seems well educated. She chastises her grandson for saying "fuck." There's no need for cussing, she says. Terms of endearment - from young men to their girlfriends - range from my nigger (I miss you, my nigger), to ugly (I love you too, ugly) and b (How you doing b?). Fortunately our instructions from the client are that if we can't grasp something, we can skip it. As it is I always listen at least three times before moving on. Takes for-fucking-ever, b.

Thanks to my mom, I'm able to support myself in my senior citizen years in a manner that isn't too sucky - like cleaning toilets or caring for snot-nosed kids. My mom always told me I should learn to type because I'd probably never get married. Gee, I hate it when my mom is right.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Beach Cookies

After beachcombing this beach for five years I've gotten picky about the shells I gather. Pretty much the shells I like are the ones you see here - the potato chip or jingle shells, those little fan-like shells in the bottom left corner, and sand dollars. All of which are hard to come by which is one of the reasons I like them.

A couple years ago I was walking Popeye beach (down by the estuary) and a friend found one of those small keyhole sand dollars. I was so jealous. For days after I combed that beach looking for one with no luck. Then a few weeks ago I took some women to a beach which is good for beachglass and as soon as the words left my mouth - "we should go to sand dollar beach the next time you're here" - one of the women looked down and there was a keyhole sand dollar. Damn. At sand dollar beach we've found keyhole sand dollars but they're usually big. To me there's something special about these small ones, the size of a chocolate chip cookie. And a cookie is what the people here call them.

Yesterday I walked through town, to the now empty barrio, crawled through the barbed wire fence and up a hill to the restaurant Los Naufragos which, I discovered, is part of the private land that's been fenced off. I slid down the dune, careful to slide under the newly constructed barbed-wire fence that now runs along the beach.

On the beach I took a deep breath and told myself that my vision is too narrow. I need to relax, view the beach as a whole, and maybe one of those sand dollars would show up. I also gave myself a mighty good lecture about how I needed to get my life, my mood, my emotions back on track. I needed to get back the feeling I had when I first came to Kino. I'd been riding the wave of a glorious high-on-life feeling from the Home for the Bewildered. I remember those first days in Kino, sitting outside the trailer reading, listening to the water, endless hours walking on the beach. A summer hot but not as hot as the ones to follow. Then how my joy took a nose dive as snowbirds began arriving with their conservative and racist attitudes. How I spent years feeling as though I didn't fit in but I didn't know where to go. Tried Bisbee. It didn't work. Came back to Kino.

As interesting, quirky and wonderful as Kino can be, I began slipping into a familiarity breeds contempt state.  I felt stuck and stuck was not a feeling I ever wanted to feel again. But I was very, very broke and therefore stuck in Kino for a real reason. Yeah, I could visualize the life I wanted all I wanted but the bottom line is at the very least I needed money for gas and food to go off in search of that life and I didn't have that.

After my lecture I continued walking the beach, gathering jingle shells. On the return walk home I walked in the water, just at the edge of the surf. I was hot and sweaty and the cool water felt great on my bare feet, the sand smooth, washed clear of shells. And then there it was. Right in front of me, all alone, that keyhole sand dollar glistening white against the dark sand. I stood there and looked around. Then before I stooped to pick it up I looked out at the sea and said "thank you!" It was one of the creepiest things that's ever happened to me.

When I reached the muelle I ran into Tio, the old man who walks the beach gathering beer cans. I'd seen him in town when I started my walk and now here he was at the end. He had a treasure too: A canvas-covered mattress pad, kind of like the ones you see on bench seats or big lounge chairs. He had it folded in half, tied with a string, and carried it on his back. We stopped to admire each other's treasures. He pretended to take a bite of my sand dollar cookie. Tio was very excited about this new bed of his. I was excited to have this reminder that things come to us when we need them. And how small my needs are in comparison to others.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

that was the week that was

What fun to wake up this morning and read the Facebook posts from last night. And to read the things I posted. Did I really write that? Ugh, too much prosecco. No wait. Is there such a thing as too much? Certainly not on a night like last night. Four years ago we breathed a huge sigh of relief but that was nothing compared to the deep breath I took last night. A Romney presidency would've been downright scary. McCain was Casper the Friendly Ghost in comparison to Romney's Freddie Kruger.

This morning I woke - or more appropriately I disentangled myself from election night hangover - to see my own private but very much public masturbator standing outside the gate trying to see me as I lay in bed. Last night I'd left all the roller shades up thinking that by the time I got home the masturbator wouldn't be around but now I remember seeing the glow of his cigarette outside the gate but I didn't care. So I went to bed with the shades up. The windows in this house are mirrored and impossible to see in during the day. However, I'd left the bedroom sliding glass door open about 18 inches. The masturbator was gazing into the gap trying to see my reflection in the wall of closet door mirrors. I got a pretty good look at him - average height and weight, baseball cap on backwards, white rubber boots. I've seen those boots at night. They seem to glow. Now I know the boots belong to him. I will be more diligent, have the camera ready. Strike a pose, asshole!

My emotions this week pretty much ran the gamut from joy and appreciation to anxiety and sadness.

A friend visited from Seattle - I've known her for decades - and we had a great week although I did worry she'd get bored. That didn't happen. All our nights were filled with dining and wining with my Kino women friends, our days pretty low key except for our kayak/stand-up paddle board excursion out in the estuary with seven other women - five in kayaks and four on paddle boards.

The week's sadness surrounded the eviction - which is way too nice a word for what happened - of the people from a number of barrios here. See my blog entry from November 4th for more details. And now I've learned that two good friends - my adopted son and my corazon - have to be out of their home in three weeks - a home they've lived in for years. Just writing that makes me feel like throwing up. I haven't been able to find much in the newspapers about this but there is this article which says that the Human Rights Commission is getting involved. I hope another barrio opens up for them, a place they can stay. Vanna will be available for moving services.

We were too exhausted after kayaking to go to the cemetery for the Day of the Dead festivities. My Seattle friend has a thing for cemeteries so we went the next day. All the gravesites were cleaned up, flowers and offerings everywhere. I thought this particular site was interesting because of the banners on the wall picturing the deceased.

When people visit their loved ones they bring food and drink, tequila or bacanora for the adults, Coca Cola for the kids, and often there is music. This family hired a group of musicians to serenade their dearly departed.

Of course the weather was perfect the entire week.

And now with my prosecco hangover I'm off to kayak the estuary with friends. This time I'm taking a camera. Hopefully the white pelicans will still be there.

Some good things happened last night. Let the celebration continue!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

...then there is no barrio(s)

A friend called. "We just drove by the new barrio - Colosio - it's being torn down. Cops are there, bulldozesrs, dump trucks." D. and I were getting ready to go to Popeye Beach, out toward the Estuary, so we decided to drive out to Barrio Colosio.

It was like something out of Mad Max. We'd just driven through there the day before and were impressed at the amount of work that had been done on the houses - plywood walls, wood beams. By the time we got there this morning most everything was gone. Piles of debris - or possessions - burned. Cars and trucks and vans passed us loaded down with building material, blankets, chairs. Neighbors in real houses let people stack their belongings and material alongside their homes. Police cars sat at all roads leading into the barrio.

We decided to visit another barrio, the one we'd heard was also to be torn down. On the way we stopped at a home rented by some gringas and they said the bulldozers were there now. They said the homes were being torn down to make way for that rumored marina...rumored for decades. The barrio was on the road to the estuary so we headed there only to be met with lines of police cars - brought in from Hermosillo - and people standing about watching a bulldozer raze another home.

I got out of the van and wandered around with my camera, hoping not to catch the attention of the police. We were told to move our vehicles back so I did then got out for more picture taking. A white truck came down the hill from where a fairly large home was standing, people surrounded the house, stood in a line along the top of the dune. A policeman yelled and cops went running toward the white truck. More police trucks arrived with masked and armed officers standing in the bed. I went back to the van and sat inside, shaking at the horror and the potential for violence. A policeman yelled for me to vamos. He didn't have to tell me twice.

We found an alternate route to the estuary, spent an hour or so there, then returned via the back road to the highway, past a new dump site where they were dumping people's belongings.

That was on Thursday. The next day we made another trip to the estuary, this time with a group of women to kayak and paddle board. We didn't know if the road was blocked but we didn't want to risk it so we took the road from the highway, past the new dumpsite. This is what it looked like on Friday morning.

The dump area had grown. Now people's possessions were covered with dirt, to be burned? Or to discourage rummaging, looking for something of value, maybe that photo of the abuela, maybe a rusted coffee pot?

I don't know the details of the razing. It seems to be true that the people in the more established barrio had been given notice since January that this was going to happen. It seems that these are the people who hustled out to Colosio looking for a new place to live. But apparently they were there illegally so they had to leave. I keep asking "but where are they supposed to live? where are they now?"

It's no wonder people risk their lives to cross the desert into the United States. Their lives are all they own.

Monday, October 22, 2012

As picky as a nit

The air was warm and rancid, like raccoon breath infused with the aroma of just-eaten sardines.

Okay, so that's just ridiculous. What do I know what raccoon breath smells like? And do raccoons even eat sardines? Wouldn't it have been better to leave that sentence at "warm and rancid" or to have written something like "The air was warm and rancid-smelling from the mounds of seaweed washed ashore, the gnats and sandflies feasting on the microscopic creatures tapped inside"?

Certainly a writer uses too many similes if they get in the way of the story. Not too far into Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke I found myself groaning over another simile, rolling my eyes, wondering how in the hell he comes up with these things. This is Burke's twentieth or so book - are they all like this, nearly every paragraph containing a "like" or an "as though"? Has he ever re-used a simile? Does he spend hours with a notebook and pen, looking at a cloud and thinking "how many ways can I describe that?"

The dialogue in this book made me cringe. Everyone from major lowlifes to "beaners" to the sheriff are all great philosophers, especially as they stand provoking the guy with the rifle pointed between their eyes. The bad guys were so similar I couldn't keep them straight. The story was too convoluted. And, seriously, as we near the end of the book with the big shoot-out/rescue scene, lose the backstory. I don't care about your thoughts about Nam as you prepare to face the baddest of the bad guys. I skimmed those paragraphs. BTW, Burke used "palpable" twice but at least they were three hundred pages apart.

In spite of all this I may buy the previous book in the series where we get introduced to Sheriff Hack and his wide-assed deputy Pam. I liked them. To me their characters were as intriguing as a box of Sees candies.


So on this particular day the air stunk. It was a couple days after the surf had been kicked up a little bit by that non-hurricane Pablo and the beach was covered with mounds of seaweed, as though hastily crocheted afghans had been tossed from above. On the day after the mini-storm the beach had pretty much been wiped clean but, in my experience, it's two days later that's good for shelling so I headed down to "jingle shell" beach.

Lately I've had a difficult time leaving the house. After four months of staying indoors, avoiding the heat and humidity, I'm out of the habit of walking. I'm out of the habit of doing anything outdoors. Whenever I open the sliding glass doors I expect to be met with a slap of hot wet air. But, no, the air is fresh and light and so I'm reestablishing old walking habits.

Jingle shell beach did not disappoint. After a few years of shell gathering I have the luxury of only picking up the perfect shells. These are jingle shells from just three beach excursions, along with a sand dollar and those wonderful fan-like shells that are so rare here.

Hopefully with this walking I'll lose my summer coat. I'll refurbish my winter tan. People who live in deserts do things backwards - out in the winter, holed up in the summer. My joy at winter days spent scouring the beach is nearly palpable.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Non-Hurricane

This is how it looked last night. Gray. Gray sky. Gray sea.

In the middle of the night I closed the bedroom windows because the surf was so loud.

Smart of this boat to head to the shelter of the bay. I wonder where the shrimp trawlers went.

Looked up from the computer and saw this gathering of cormorants.

And way out near San Nicolas white caps on a line for the estuary.

Picture perfect morning.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Two Different Skies Bahia Kino October 15

The view southeast, toward town...

...and at the same time, the view northwest. Marching Man stops to ponder the sunset...

...then continues on.

He stops again at a truck waiting to bring a panga ashore.

Blue sky breaks through over Isla Alcatraz.

Just after the sun goes down behind Tiburon a truck launches a panga.

The fishermen head toward town.

The sky changing colors with their change in direction.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

First there is a barrio, then there is no barrio, then there is

One day this summer a new neighborhood sprung up just off the "highway," back behind the ballpark and the high school. No one could believe how quickly lots were marked off and buildings erected. Truly, it happened over night.

I ran into a friend who told me all about his new lot in that new neighborhood. He spoke in his usual rapid-fire ADHD-like spanglish so it was difficult keeping track but the gist was that people were excited about the new 'hood because there was city water and electricity was only a year away. In order to have a lot there you could not own any other property and you had to build something right away and occupy it. He spent over $400 U.S. on wood and built the basic structure for his home. As a way to bring the neighbors together he threw a huge birthday party for his little boy, furnished all the beer, soft drinks and food - carne asada, tortillas, beans. They built a fire, played music, danced.

Two days later the barrio was gone.

As fast as it had gone up it came down. The government said they couldn't be there, it'd all been a mistake. Lo siento amigos. If they didn't remove the buildings they would be razed. My neighbor and photographer, Jan Henriksen, took this photo after the exodus.

The barrio is back. Whatever the sticking point was, it was worked out. Sort of. We walked over there yesterday and chatted with a friend who's camped out on his lot. We said we'd heard that the people had paid the back taxes on the property and that it was now theirs. He said that wasn't true. They hadn't yet paid but they would once it was sorted out how much was owed and who all was actually living there. Each morning a woman comes around taking names, making sure that the people who are there are supposed to be there, that they have no other homes. The first time the barrio opened up, some gringos from New Kino ran over and marked off their lots as "future investment", you know, for the day the phantom marina goes in and Kino becomes another Rocky Point or San Carlos. Our friend said that can't happen now.

Still there's some uncertainty and the new neighbors are afraid that once again they'll be forced to leave. There were at least eight federal police trucks in town the other day, each truck carrying four officers. The people watched anxiously as the trucks drove up the road to New Kino. They feared the federales were here to evict them. Our friend said the people would not go without a fight. They had plans to form a human chain - men, women and children - and would have to be dragged from their homes. But the federales left town. Maybe they were just here for a seafood dinner, maybe for a little kumbaya police bonding time.

We were given another bit of news. One of the barrios on the outskirts of town has been cleared out, shut down. Can you imagine that? One day you have a home; the next day it's torn down. You don't even have a car you can move into.

I'll keep posting on the progress of the barrio. Hopefully it's here to stay.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hot Dog Days of Summer

The terns are going crazy this morning, diving and screeching. Large schools of little fish are just a few feet from shore. You can see the gray outline just below the surface - a movable feast. The sound of the surf is rhythmic except for an occasional flap, like a snapped towel. The dog next door barks at the old SUV that's just launched a boat from the beach, beach launching a necessity because the tip of the boat ramp at Islandia broke off and then most of the ramp crumbled away.

I can hear these sounds because I have the doors open. Day three without air conditioning. The end of summer came a week early.

Of all the summers to have been in a house and out of the trailer, this was the perfect one. I'd like to give the universe a big shout-out for conspiring on this. It's not that the trailer doesn't cool down in the summer. Oh no, that AC keeps the inside of the trailer muy frio - enough for a sweater during the day and a comforter at night. It's being closed-up that's the problem. The humidity makes it impossible to keep doors or windows open so there I would sit in that aluminum trailer - Canned Annette. I craved a house, room in which to move around. Certainly summers in Kino would be more tolerable if I had a home.

So the universe gave me a home and the home is nice, I'm not complaining, but the summer was still hot and still I stayed indoors. The nights do not cool down here. There's no refreshing early-morning breeze from the sea. I stayed indoors with the sliding glass doors pulled closed, the roller shades in the bedroom pulled down, and I spent nearly four months in bed reading. At least when I think about the summer that's what I remember. That and those unusual thunder storms.

Summer hibernation. The opposite of what you all up north experience in the winter. Except in the winter you have warm malls to explore, warm movie theaters, warm restaurants. In Kino there are very few options for escaping the heat.

But enough of that. This kind of weather, this is what the snowbirds come to Kino for. Cool mornings, afternoon breezes. Mosquitoes gone. This house is a perfect happy hour house with that long patio and abundance of chairs. Around eight o'clock Saturday evening, after an impromptu happy hours(s) gathering, we decided to go for hot dogs. If you've not experienced a Sonoran hot dog, you're really missing something. I like mine with doble weenies.

We walked the five blocks or so to the hot dog stand, stood around the cart eating our doble weenies, then made our way home, past the local drunks. As we passed what used to be one of the puta bars one of the guys in the group standing there said "Hola Marie Antonietta." I said hola and we exchanged como estas? Ah, one of my friends from the puta bar. We walked by our ex-security guard who was sitting on a step drinking beer with another guy. The security guard finally got fired after three trailer break-ins and one fisticuffs with a gringo resident who accused the security guard of doing the break-ins which is a pretty safe bet.

Unfortunately that dog woke me in the middle of the night but it was worth it. As my friends know, I'm pretty bored with the food here but not with these babies. Fortunately the hot dog stands don't come out until late at night so I probably only have a couple of them a year. A summer of in-bed reading topped off with hot dogs...I'd be about the size of Gilbert Grape's mom.

Time to end this rambling. My friends will be here any minute to walk the beach. We're heading into town this time because the beach is flatter and a little wider in that direction. We're going to have to dodge boats and dead fish so it may slow us down a bit on our quest to shed those hibernating hot dog pounds.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Adios Septiembre

September brought large and small pleasures. In the large pleasure camp was getting back my eyesight. I tell you, that drive from Kino to Tucson was downright scary. I couldn't see a thing. My friend who rode along is one brave woman. When we were in Tucson I'd say things like "Tell me when we're nearing Target because I can't see." The ophthalmologist confirmed the diagnosis of an opacity, a cloudiness between my eyes and the cataract lenses implanted four years ago. The office lady kindly squeezed me in the following day for a laser procedure and even gave me a little bit of a discount because I have no insurance.

Oh the miracle of sight! I stand looking out at the sea, across the bay to Shipwreck beach. Most of the boat's been salvaged but I can see its hull, a dark blob contrasted against sandy white. People are born with eyesight like this? Since I was eight years old I've had to deal with glasses or contacts or when too vain to wear glasses accepted the blurry shapes of things and people. Now I can see. This clarity amazes me.

Other September pleasures: Using a friend's kayak so I could follow her out into the bay and bear witness to her headstand on a paddle board. Dinners with women friends which included much laughter, wine, dips in the pool, sweating, swatting at mosquitoes. One evening we watched the sliver of a new moon just after sunset as it lingered above Isla Alcatraz and then muy rapido it dropped into the Sea of Cortez. It had the shape and speed of a boomerang; I expected it to circle back.

The local fishermen got a week's jump on shrimping before the trawlers began moving in.

At last count there were twenty of the big guys; last year I counted over thirty. The good news: cheap shrimp. The bad: dead stuff. On yesterday's walk we saw these freshly dead creatures: sea turtle (gone today, someone must've wanted the shell), pelican, tern, cormorant, and a couple other birds.

In September we had storms but no hurricanes or tropical depressions (unless you count the few tropical depressions I suffered). We had an invasion of crickets and mosquitoes. Dead-looking bougainvillea suddenly leafed out and bloomed. Weekends quieted down as kids returned to school. And we had some intense sunsets. Just a few weeks ago the sun set so far north that Tiburon blocked our view. Now it inches its way closer to Alcatraz.

Summers in Kino are miserable. Those of us gringos who are here full time hunker down and hibernate, counting off the days until the weather cools (usually around the second week in October). Then suddenly December is here. We sit in the bar at Casablanca under the propane heaters, freezing our asses off, longing for those hot muggy days.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Crazy for the Storm

It's been a couple weeks since I posted a blog entry - got a few in the queue, waiting to be typed - but writing was put on hold while I had my eyes fixed and then lost myself in Chelsea Cain's Archie and Gretchen books. Talk about a reading hangover. Read three of the books in Chelsea's series and had to force myself to stop; there are only two left. I'm going to need to stretch them out and maybe reread these because I read them so fast and so late at night that my recollection of details is kind of flimsy.

It rained here in Kino. That's the big news. I posted these pics and observations on facebook. This is for my blog friends.

It rained here. In the five years that I've lived in Kino, up until this summer it had only rained twice. One time a real gully-washer in early February just after I'd returned from the Alamos music festival. The other last Thanksgiving. Outside of those storms we'd watch the clouds chug up from Calle Doce only to stall at the invisible shield formed by the Sea of Cortez and the bay of Kino. Some drops would escape. We'd laugh and say "It rained. Twelve drops." We could count them, they were so few and far between.

A friend who grew up here said when he was a kid they would have rain days. When it rained, they got to stay home from school. In those days there were no paved streets. I could see how it would be impossible to get from one place to another, traversing flooded streets, sneakers stuck in muck. Kids probably had to help mom swab out the flooded mess of their homes.

This year the monsoons have been strong enough to break through that shield. Most of them have hit in the middle of the night. A roll of thunder would wake me. Then kaboom! Lightning would strike, thunder would roar and - excuse me for this - all hell would break loose! The storm that hit yesterday struck mid morning. The sea was flat, the skies blue. I wondered if my friend was out on her stand-up paddle board. The man who owns the hotel who planted trees along my wall was out in the water for his daily swim. He's a big man with bowed legs. He's been swimming for exercise and making great progress. I sat at the computer doing a typing job - a police internal affairs investigation which is one of my favorites. I took a break and looked out at the sea. It had turned green. I ran for my camera.

The hotel owner was out in the water. Way out there. He swims attached to a float. I watched his round head and the round float bounce in the waves as he tried to make his way back to shore. The waves were carrying him to New Kino. I watched and waited. Would I have to call the police? I couldn't do that. The electricity went out and my cell phone was out of minutes (or at least I think that's what the nice lady was saying in Spanish when I tried to dial out). The wind kicked up. I had to turn my back against the wall of sand. Finally the hotel man made it to shore. He walked over to me as I said things like "Oh my God, are you okay? That was dangerous. You could've ended up in New Kino!" all in some fractured spanglish. He knew what I was saying and thanked me profusely for worrying about him. I figured it's good to be on his good side. That way he won't suspect me when his trees disappear.

The electricity was still out so I decided to walk over to my trailer. This is Guaymas Rio Guaymas.

The trailer park was a flooded muddy mess. It looked like it did after the sea surge from Hurricane Henriette in 2007 (I think).

All day the electricity came and went. I was bored. I wanted to read another Chelsea Cain but I held back, pulling out some murder mystery I'd bought up in Tucson last week. I did some sudoku. The doors were open. It wasn't suppressingly muggy.

That night the sun outlined the clouds, the sea flattened and the dragonflies arrived.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

She's Big, She's Beautiful, She's Mine

Vanna headed to Casablanca
to show off her new look.
Lately I've been wondering why I'm in Kino. Kind of wishing I was in a more sophisticated Mexican town, one with a plaza, wandering mariachis, museums, restaurants and cantinas. Maybe I'm restless and unhappy because the summer's been brutal - except for a little cooling-off spell when it rained - and I've spent so much time indoors. Maybe it's because I need my every-six-month shopping trip to the States to replenish supplies - frozen potstickers, body wash, books. And maybe because I need to eat some real Thai food.

But this morning I was reminded why I like Kino, why I stay here.

Getting Vanna's roof repaired and painted got off to a rocky start. Being a great procrastinator was not helping the condition of Vanna's roof. Then it rained and the van filled with water. Finally I tracked down Denver and he said he'd paint the roof for $5,000 pesos (less than $400 US) and for free he'd repair the places on the body where the paint was peeling and he'd paint the bumpers which had also rusted. He said he'd go to Hermosillo to get paint. All that I understood but he kept pointing to the gas tank cover and I had no idea why. The morning he was to get the paint, I walked over to his place to give him some money. Again Denver pointed to the gas cover and again I was clueless. I was like, "Okay, see ya Monday," and then I walked back to the trailer park. I was halfway to Islandia when it hit: Denver needs the gas cover to match the paint. Duh. What a dope. So I got the van, drove back to Denver's, and he removed the cover, thanking me profusely. I was to drop the van off Monday morning; he'd have her done by Friday.

Not only a procrastinator but also too damn hot to walk in the Kino heat and humidity, I didn't go visit Denver until Friday, the day the van was supposed to be ready. He hadn't started. "Muchas problemas," he said. The roof was worse than he thought - full of holes. He wanted to nix the paint idea and instead use spray-on bedliner, the plastic stuff in pickup truck beds. I said okay, sounds like a plan.

Last night I stopped by to see Denver because I needed Vanna to be finished today. The roof/paint/repair job was done. He was going to change the oil but he needed money and I didn't have enough on me. I said I'd bring it to him after dinner but dinner ran too late. At 8:30 this morning, Denver was at my door. I gave him the rest of the money I owed him, I gave him money for oil, and I gave him nearly a hundred dollars more than we had agreed on because of the extra work. In a half hour he returned Vanna and I drove him to his shop. Then I drove to Oscar's car wash. Oscar was just finishing an Islandia neighbor's truck so I drove to Islandia, waited for Oscar to return the neighbor's truck. Then Oscar took me to my house and drove Vanna back to the car wash. Slick. All this coming and going, a well-oiled machine, synchronized as hell.

Unfortunately while in Denver's custody he broke a corner off the driver's side mirror - the same spot the previous mechanic had chipped it. She's big. She's wide. She's wanted by men from Kino to Calle Doce. As I drove Denver back to the shop he asked if she was for sale, said he'd like to take her on vacation to Chiapas. Get in line, dude.

I can't wait to see Vanna all shiny and clean. She's been sorely neglected. Her bumpers look awesome with that spray-on bedliner. So smooth and black. An empty canvas, just waiting for some Obama in 2012 stickers.

The water boys just delivered water and lifted the 5-gallon container onto the dispenser. Oscar will be back soon with Vanna. When I'm in the states, Manny will let Margarita in to clean the big house and the guest house. Manny will feed the cat at the trailer, water plants in both places. Click, click, click, things falling into place. The people remind me why I love it here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Limbs of Contention

In the corner of the yard there were two palm trees. Just before I moved in, the owner removed the palms because they blocked her view of the pier. She gave them to a friend to plant in his yard.

Enter Ramon (an alias). Proprietor of Ramon's Apartmentos which is located two blocks from the beach. Ramon, who wants a shady area for his guests, planted a tree next to this property, this house, which blocks the view of the pier more than those two little palms ever did. He also planted two trees across the way, next to the yellow house's wall.

But wait! The trees are planted on a street. It's a thoroughfare to the beach. It's where people park their cars, string tarps, picnic. So now there are these trees blocking the road. With chained benches underneath. And when he has guests, he strings a shade cloth from tree to tree which means the boat launchers can no longer use the road (unless they cut down the cloth and a few branches which one boat launcher did). Weekenders from Hermosillo can no longer drive their cars down to the beach. The road is off limits. Except to the guests of Ramon.

But wait! The tree's also tall enough that pinche ladrones (asshole thieves) can climb the branches and jump into this house's yard.

There's more! As we expected would happen, local bums can use the trees as shelters. Why just today I saw Enrique...

...asleep under the tree. But do you notice something? This is the same tree as the newly-planted tree pictured above. The same tree that was planted about a week ago. IT'S DEAD! Ramon hasn't watered it.

And still there's more...more trees...

All in all Ramon planted five trees against the walls of this house. Questions which arise are...should the trees live (and that's doubtful) will the root system affect the wall? Are the trees planted the legal distance (apparently there is such a thing) from the building? My neighbors across the way, with the two new trees thanks to the generosity of Ramon, complained to the mayor who said it was okay. But the deal is, this road falls under the jurisdiction of the feds. It needs to be clear for police and ambulance access. So I guess the fight's not over. However, if the trees die, all this will be water under the bridge...or sand under the sea. Or Enrique under a dead tree.