Trailer Park Nirvana image created by Stefany Kleeschulte.

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.