Trailer Park Nirvana image created by Stefany Kleeschulte.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


People on the beach can't see me. But I can see them. I decided to snap some pics from inside the house.

Taking pictures of people taking pictures.


Sunday, July 22, 2012


It was after dark last night when I walked from the trailer park to the house. I walked past the occupied casitas at Islandia, smells of carne asada (of course), sounds of music, talking. The tide was low, the surf calm, rhythmic. An orange crescent moon was behind me, over my right shoulder.

Normally at the house I would go inside, watch a little television, read, then go to bed but it wasn't too hot and muggy so I mixed a cocktail, turned off the outside lights, and sat in the dark watching the moon set over Isla Tiburon.

It'd been a strange beach day down here in front of the house. Quiet for a Saturday. Was there a reason there were so few people here? Was there some fiesta in Hermosillo that keep them there? I decided Vanna was bored and needed a trip so I let her take me to New Kino, to Casablanca. I noticed that the two little motels across the street - Alcatraz and Santos - were packed and that people in nice cars were driving around, looking at the "departmentos se renta" signs as though looking for a place to stay.

It took over a half hour to get from my house to Casablanca, normally a 15-minute drive. Cars lined both sides of the street. The palapa beach was packed as was La Palapa restaurant. Every home seemed to be occupied by partiers. It was like those crazy Semana Santa and Semana Diablos weekends. Apparently there were no hotel rooms available.

That is the difference between the new and old Kinos. Old Kino caters more to families; New Kino to college-age kids. It's fun to watch the action in New Kino but I prefer watching the goings-on here in Old Kino.

Before our excursion to New Kino, I'd been in the house when a family set up a brand new canopy on the beach. Obviously the guys hadn't read the instructions and they had a bunch of poles left over. Finally they managed to get it properly assembled. I'd wanted to go out and paint my toenails in the light of the sun, use the wall as a place to prop my feet, but I didn't want the family to think I was watching them so instead I stayed inside and watched them from behind these mirrored windows.

Canopy up, they left grandma there to keep an eye on it while they went back to their motel rooms and changed. First the dads returned with the little kids. They played in the water while the wives prepared snacks, gathered up towels and beach toys.

There's this L-shaped wall outside the back gate.

Its purpose is to keep sand out of the patio. People will often sit on that little wall. They'll drape their clothes and towels on it. Children will picnic in that small alcove. I looked out a little later and two of the girls were behind the wall changing out of their swimsuits. The mothers were standing guard while the young girls ducked behind the wall and shimmied out of their clothes. I stood behind the mirrored windows and watched. So much for their privacy! I decided that was a good time to go wash dishes or something.

Last night as I sat watching the moon, I saw flashes of light. I'd seen lightning in the distance, off toward Calle Doce, but these flashes were too bright, too low, too near. Finally it dawned on me that maybe it was my neighbor, who is a photographer, up on her roof trying to capture that moonset over Tiburon.

Lights went on at the rental next door, to my right. I glanced over and there were about eight people there. Half the group ran out into the water. Four women remained at the palapa. Music played on the boombox. The palapa was lit with a soft light. The women were tall, thin, all in bikinis. They danced with the palapa's pole. They danced provocatively with one another. I wanted to take a picture but I worried that even if I managed to get the flash turned off on the camera, somehow it would flash and give me away. So I stood in the shadows and watched. I imagined that Jose, who lives in the house on the other side, also stood and watched.

This is the photo I snapped this morning:

Beercan remnants from the night before.

It's nice staying in a real house with room to roam, with a refrigerator in the actual kitchen and not out in the bodega, with wireless internet that's reliable, with a freakin' DRYER! But the thing I'll miss most when I move back to my trailer is watching the people. Watching moms carry their babies into the sea. Watching dads toss kids into the water from their shoulders. Watching.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Naked History

A Facebook post about the Oregon guy who stripped naked - totally naked - for the TSA and was found not guilty of...well, whatever he was found not guilty of, sparked some comments about all the naked people in Portland, especially those on bikes. I was going to write a post about the time my sister and I saw a naked guy in Portland but then I started thinking about being naked in public and that led me to...

The first time I was ever naked with a bunch of people was in Berkeley when my good friend housesat for the Dean of the graduate school where we worked. For the weeks she had the place, it was an endless party around the pool, a lot of the time spent naked. Some of us spent a lot of time in the Dean's big shower with the five or six shower heads pointed in various directions. (I gained new respect for the Dean when I saw that. Of course I shouldn't have been surprised - every Friday night he served wine in his office to the graduate students and staff. He was one cool dude for a dean.)

Various nude beaches in California followed along with hot springs and mud baths.

Wreck Beach up in Vancouver, B.C. Endless hours spent in the sun. My poor daughter's butt so sunburned she couldn't sit.

I didn't think I got naked much when I moved to the Oregon Coast - all those chilly days and rain - but then I remembered the sweat house out in Beaver Creek where every Sunday people came out to Kate's place to lounge in that most amazing structure. Built by hand, in the center of the sweat house was a frigid pool filled with water from a nearby stream. The sweat house was heated with a wood stove, water tossed on to create steam. I'd say 15 or so people could easily fit into the sweat house not counting the children. I wonder if it's still used. That's another thing I thought about, how when this was going on we were all in our 20s and 30s. Now everyone's in their 60s and 70s and I bet that sweat house is one of the few places people this age feel comfortable being naked in public.

In Portland, in the mid '80s, a neighbor and I went to Sauvie Island every weekend in the summer to frolic on the nude beach. Just a little ways from Portland, Sauvie Island sits on the Columbia River. It's a beautiful place with small organic vegetable and flower farms, bird sanctuary, houseboats. The nude beach has been there for decades and from what I understand, it's still a popular weekend getaway.

My sister Constance (she was Connie then) came to visit me in Portland. The day before she arrived the high temperature was around 72 degrees; the day she got there the temp soared to 100. One night we decided to walk from my apartment on NW 29th and Thurman to Bridgeport Brew Pub down on 18th and Marshall. It was a glorious evening. As we got down near 20th a man walked by and he smiled and said hi and we said hi back. And then we realized he was naked. Whaaaaa....we stopped dead in our tracks and turned to look back. Yep, bare-ass naked. Only in Portland would someone nonchalantly walk the streets without clothes because it was hot and what was a person to do? Probably didn't have air conditioning.

Sadly, my being naked in public days ended when I got older and certain things happened to my body I wasn't too fond of. Well, I thought the naked in public days ended but then I moved to the Home for the Bewildered and we went skinny dipping in the pool one night and got in trouble with the owner but that's another story.

I imagine there are people out there who have never been naked with a group of people that didn't involve an orgy. Just hanging out (ahem), talking, reading, swimming, doing normal activities. It doesn't take long to forget you're naked, that everyone's naked. It's the most freeing feeling in the world. Although I'm not sure the TSA agent felt that way when that man stood there naked in front of her. What a great idea for a flash mob! And it could only happen in Portland.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Vacationing Life

We went to Hermosillo yesterday. I needed to see the ophthalmologist and Demo wanted to see Spiderman. Neither of us like driving in the big city so we enlisted the services of our chauffeur.

I can't see out of my right eye - especially something glaring like a computer screen. According to the doctor one of my cataract lenses has formed a cloud, an opacity, which can be fixed with laser surgery for $6500 pesos (about $500 U.S.). I was thrilled to know that this problem was fixable and felt enthusiastic as we headed off to Galerias Mall to eat lunch before hitting the VIP lounge at Cinepolis.

ComicX is a restaurant chain in Mexico but the atmosphere and menu are total U.S. Action figures are everywhere. Lifesized Batman, Spiderman, Hulk and the rest. All kinds of action hero memorabilia adorn the walls. We were there when a family came in and the little boys went crazy. "Mira, mira" they ran from one display to another, "look, look."

We rushed through lunch - pizza, ribs, chicken - to get to the VIP lounge. We bought tickets to Spiderman, 100 pesos each which is a lot more than the regular theater but worth it. We walked in and I said "oh oh, there's no booze on the shelves." We tracked down a worker who said that their liquor permit had been revoked. Well why pay 100 pesos for the VIP lounge when you can't drink? I mean, sure, the leather recliners are nice but not that nice. We go there for the opportunity to drink alcohol with our movie. The Cinepolis management was very nice and gave us our money back.

Scratch the movie plans, we headed to the part of town where the rich people live, where there's a Starbuck's and a Chile's and an IHop and where the WalMart carries giant vodka for 100 pesos and Miracle Whip and Schweppe's tonic water. Afterwards we went to the Thai restaurant across the street and sat on the patio and had cocktails. Demo had chardonnay. Our chauffeur had some non-alcoholic beverage. I had a Tangueray and tonic but I had to provide my own tonic which I'd just bought at Walmart.

It was cloudy and we could see lightning off in the distance. There was a nice breeze. It was downright comfortable in Hermosillo which is often the hottest place in all of Mexico. I could've sat there for hours; it felt so city-like and civilized.

Demo's car has an outside-the-car temperature display. When we left Hermosillo it was 81 degrees. We hadn't experienced 81 degrees since May. Halfway to Kino, in Calle Doce or La Doce or just plain old Doce, the temperature rose to 98. Shit. When we reached Kino it was 94. As I got out of the air-conditioned car my sunglasses fogged up.

After Francisco came over and put some freon in the refrigerator, and I had my newly-defrosted (unplanned) chicken breasts slow cooking, I checked out the laser procedure the ophthalmologist wants to perform. I tried to find out the cost in the U.S. One site said $300 to $500. Well, damn, that's cheaper than here. Another said $1500. So I'm trying to get some actual quotes from offices in the U.S.

After my visit to the eye doc I'd said something about the cost of the laser surgery cutting into my vacation money. The chauffeur said "Vacation? Your life is a vacation. Look where you live." I responded that for me a vacation is going to a place with bookstores, restaurants, coffee houses, and bars where I don't know anyone. A vacation is the opposite of day-to-day life.

When did living in Kino switch from a vacation to real life? It happened when the newness wore off. When I began working. When I started feeling bored. When I started itching for a change...a change of scenery, a change of people. Which is why I live in an Airstream travel trailer. I want my life always to be a vacation and for me that means newness. Which is why, when all these people ask why I drive that big blue van, why don't I sell it, I know that Vanna is my key to full-time vacation living. Whether I tow that Airstream out of here or just take extended road trips in that hefty Econoline, Vanna is the key. And as soon as I can see again, we're hitting the road.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wifebeater Update

This movie, called El Gringo, is now
showing in Hermosillo.
When I lived in that trailer park Arizona I created a blog called "On Silver Wings". I was new to living in an Airstream, new to living in the desert and just so damn excited about my new life that I blogged enthusiastically - and honestly - about pretty much everything. I never wrote negatively about anyone (except for "the sheriff") but still, when people started reading my blog and identified themselves, it got awkward and I killed the blog. When I first got to Kino, I created another blog but kept it anonymous - I never mentioned the town I was writing about nor my name or other identifying information. Now with this blog everything's out in the open and I face the same problem here - writing about a small community while more people in that community are reading the blog. I am constantly self-editing. How honest can I be about some of the things here? About the people? Especially the people in my trailer park? Most the time I think "fuck it" - I have to write honestly or the writing is stilted. Or I don't write at all.

So here's an update on my trailer park neighbor who tried to kill his wife. People in Kino who read this blog know who I'm talking about. And, hell, maybe someday the attempted murderer's wife will even read what I write here. Fuck it.

The asshole's still in prison - the old, tough and scary prison on Hermosillo's eastern edge. If I didn't despise him so much, if I wasn't so repelled by the thought of seeing his now-thinning face with its over-sized gleaming white false teeth making him look like a Day of the Dead skeleton, I'd go interview him about his life in that scary Mexican prison. Sometimes I think about him and try to imagine how he spends his days there. I know that he greased some palms and got moved to a better part of the prison. I know that he complains to his lawyer about the food. (No shit, dude. You shoulda thought about that before you tried to kill your wife. Pendejo!) People joke that he's finally learning Spanish. I know that his family get his medicine and toiletries and stuff like that to him via friends of mine. And, boy, does that piss me off.

It pisses me off that they use my Mexican friend - well, they don't "use" him, they pay him - to take these items to the prison because, unfortunately, he knows how to maneuver through the system. And it pisses me off that my gringo friend acts as intermediary. Last night when I told el gringo how I felt, he said "well, he [the asshole] is really sorry." Well fuck a duck, all wifebeaters are sorry afterwards. And, frankly, from what I've heard he doesn't seem sorry. When one of the people who was present that horrific night gave his deposition to the judge, the asshole had his lawyer bring him a slip of paper with all these biblical sayings on it, things like "thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." Does that sound like a man who has faced what he's done honestly?

I was very happy to learn that the person who had agreed to be the mail drop wrote the family and said he was no longer interested in playing that role, they'd have to find someone else. I have another friend who comes down here regularly and I'm afraid they'll approach her and she'll say yes. I hope beyond hope that she won't do it. Not very Christian of me, is it? Well when my Mexican friend was in prison and we were trying to get him out, the asshole refused to help, saying that he needed to learn his lesson. Karma, cabron. You need to learn your lesson.

El gringo who acts as intermediary with the family wasn't there the night of the beating. I think if he had been - if he'd heard the wife screaming, if he'd seen the husband come out and bear-spray spray and machete the neighbors - if he'd seen all that, maybe he wouldn't be so quick to help. I was there. Which is another reason I won't face him in prison because I'd be tempted to take a machete to his head then I'd be in that hell hole.

What's the latest? Well he wasn't extradited as some people believed would happen. They said Mexico won't want to deal with him, the possibility of this Americano dying under their watch, so they'll ship him out. Didn't happen. The process through verdict and sentencing takes about eight months and it looks like he'll be in at least that long. Should he be found guilty on two counts of attempted murder, he could face 15 to 20 years. Can he buy his way out? That's a possibility but it won't be cheap. People estimate 60 to 80 thousand dollars.

I can't imagine what it's like for this man to be in that Mexico prison. But I get enjoyment picturing him there. Yeah, yeah, maybe bad karma on my part. Fuck it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Spying on Kino

The people on the beach cannot see into this house. They cannot see me watching them. The owners of the house put in mirrored windows - a necessity when you live right on the beach right in town. So I stand at the sliding glass door and watch people on the beach.

I see the old man who collects cans walk by. He always looks at the house in the hopes I'll come out with a bag full.

I watch the man launch fishing boats. His technique is designed for efficiency. He drives onto the beach, makes a huge arc, backs up into the water where he slams on his brakes at the same time the guy in the bow of the panga releases the rope which ties the boat to the trailer. Whoosh! The boat is free, the truck takes off for another.

Couples make love in the water, holding each other close.

Mothers take their naked babies into the sea to wash their butts.

Unhappy dogs are carried into the surf - a flea dip.

Young women in swimsuits pose for photos. Their favorite pose is a leap in the air. Yesterday a middle-aged woman lay on the beach, the waves washing over her, while her husband snapped her picture.

Little boys (and some men) pee against the wall.

Every day the older white-haired lady who is schizophrenic or something, who walks around town barefoot, every day she gets in the water to cool her body down. I've seen her eat food at picnic blankets while the picnickers were in the water.

Yesterday the beach in front of the house was packed with people. There were two families consisting of at least 20 people in each. At the rental house next door a group gathered for a birthday party. They put a trampoline on the beach, strung a pinata in the yard. When I went to bed I turned on all the fans in the bedroom to block the music which was still going strong - and loud - at 4 a.m.

This morning I got out of bed around 5. Even at that hour people were playing in the water. Boys sat on my wall. Older women sat in the sand using the wall as a backrest.

Kino certainly has become a weekend get-away for people in Hermosillo. Yesterday I saw a weather map for Mexico. Hermosillo had the highest temperatures in the whole country, hovering somewhere around 115.

This house is only a block from the trailer park where I live. Although on summer weekends the park is filled with Mexican families who stay in the bungalows or who bring their own trailers (a new phenomenon), it is still a gringo enclave. I never realized how much until I took up residence in this house on the beach with its mirrored windows.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Moonset Over Alcatraz

Two nights ago I woke, oh it must have been somewhere around 3:00 in the morning, to a spotlight shining in my face. I've been sleeping with the roller shades up and even though it's too hot and muggy to open the windows, I can still hear the sea, I can see various lights reflecting on the water. It took me a few seconds to realize that the spotlight was the moon. Have I ever been able to see the moon from my bed? Even when I lived on the beach in Oregon I had to walk downstairs to the kitchen to see the moon over the Pacific Ocean. I remember being able to see the full moon from my bed in one of my Portland apartments but I lived in too many to remember which one - maybe the third floor apartment on NW 22nd or the second story apartment at NW 29th and Thurman.

The moon moved across the sky. I closed my eyes for a few minutes and when I opened them I saw the strangest sight. The moon was sitting atop Alcatraz Island, balanced like a big yellow ball. Then it began slipping down the other side. Never in my life have I seen a moonset. In the winter, that is the exact same spot where the sun leaves us.

All the while this is happening I'm telling myself to get out of bed and get the camera. But I also know that my camera won't do it justice. So I decided to enjoy the experience, try to get a shot the following night.

Last night I practiced nighttime shooting which, as you can see from the photo, was a near failure. This is a shot of the moon over the muelle (pier).

Right on schedule, I woke when the moon was directly overhead. Which was the problem - it was overhead; not low enough to shine in the bedroom windows, not low enough to see from the bed. Its path was much higher and therefore the moon was going to pass Alcatraz without stopping. I consoled myself with the thought that there's always next month...and the next and the one after that...