Saturday, February 6, 2010

My Doorway To The Sea

I suppose I could start my first vacation blog a la Keillor as if I’m telling a story about Lake Woebegone but that would be highly unoriginal. But it has been quiet here in PM, the winter people (ourselves included) are here and along with them a few new characters. This place isn’t as alive with characters as places further from North America. It’s obvious people do come here to get lost or hide. Last year we met one guy from Norway or Denmark or one of those cold sub arctic European countries who was living in a shack in the jungle and only had a rattly old bike for transport. What I remember most was how unbelievably dirty he was without having that all too familiar “homeless” smell my transient patients carry with them like a badge of courage. But this year, his clothes were clean and he had much needed dental work done. I knew better than to ask what he was doing with himself; in this part of the world it could be anything/everything and none of it I want to have a part of or even a whiff of knowing. Our favorite bar owner has actually lost a little weight but he carries the weight of the world on the sides of his eyes in the form of not one but two small children he has created with a much younger Mexican woman and with these two sprogs he has adopted her whole family. Yesterday at the dock I saw a guy who looked like a pirate. Seriously, not an AK 47 toting pirate but Jack Sparrow meets Rasta meets Deadhead Arrrrrrrr ye’ matey pirate. I didn’t have the telephoto with me yesterday otherwise his picture would grace my blog and probably my Facebook profile because really? Jack Sparrow meets Rasta meets Deadhead is so pointedly unusual everyone should take a lesson from him and display their internal and secret selves for the rest of the world to see.

The characters in this town are not limited to the two-legged creatures, either. The feral dogs range from mangy and mean (we try to carry a big stick when we walk at night) to dirty but sweet. Not only do I make up stories for the people I see around town, giving them back story and ironic dialogues but I anthropomorphize the beach dogs. We see Susie--a spotted short-haired mix of boxer and pit bull--hanging at the Uruguay place. She’s a sweet girl, scrappy but sweet and seems to get along with the other dogs. Susie is the Peggy Lee character form Lady and the Tramp. Across the street, Ramone de Guerre Fuentes holds court at the tourist hotel and bar. He is an elderly golden retriever with bad hips and swinging balls. He is the go-to dog if you need to know where the best trash is or the sweetest bitch in heat. Ramone has his old paw on the pulse of this town and isn't afraid to assert his authority with younger upstarts and the dogs who were lucky enough to leave "the life". The dogs who have been adopted and are tethered in yards or taken for proper walks have a sort of swagger about them because they have been adopted and moved from the street to the yard. Realistically, not an easy thing to do. A couple of years ago, we met a dog named Jet. His name was Jet because he had ears which extended straight out from his head. The people he adopted every year said they found him hanging by their gate a few years ago and each winter when they return Jet is there, waiting for them. But you couldn’t touch Jet or even act as if you were going to touch him without a low menacing growl. Poor Jet, it was obviously he adored these people because he would lay close to them and watch them with soft worshiping brown eyes but he was inherently broken by life in the street when his people were far away and he had to find scraps of food and a cool place to stay.

Last year, a couple of days before we had to leave our home away from home a little German Shepard mix wandered into the pool area of our casita. He was collared with a message on his tag, about being a peaceful creature, so I referred to him as “The Wayne Dyer of beach dogs” and it was shortened and stuck. I promise on my mother’s urn we did not feed or provide water for Wayne. But Wayne attached himself to The Girl and followed us around for our last two or three days. People would compliment us on our “cute dog”. I thought about Wayne all year and shortly after we arrived I proclaimed to The Girl: “If we see Wayne, I’m bringing him home with us.” This idea was appropriately nixed because as TG put it: “Dude, we already have a thousand dollar dog, we don’t need another one.” She also went on to tell me the chances of seeing Wayne were slim.

Or were they.

Wayne greeted us at our place on the beach he came up to TG like Kipper does after she’s been at work. It was unbelievably sweet and so miraculous it made me cry. Our beach dog is here and has been taken care of by some old hippies who named him Jack. Call me selfish but he looks more like a Wayne. I was relieved to see he has been well fed and is just as sweet and gentle as before. I still think he would make a fine addition to our household. However, I think Wayne would miss the sea and the ability to run free along the water.

Twenty mumblty years ago I lived in a ski town. The characters in a beach town are different from the characters in a ski town. Mind you, it was a manufactured ski town but it was a resort and there was a motley crew of Trustaferians, Hanger-ons, Euro trash playboys and girls and then folks like us just eking out an existence. Oh and there were white people with names like Spenser and Molly who made it possible for us to eek out a living. Spenser and Molly are here, too but they usually just stay near their Timeshare beaches and tentatively stop in and take a peek at the “Cute little town but it’s too Mexican” (I kid you not, I heard someone say this a few years ago) Anyhow, the characters in the World Class Resort weren’t as “colorful” as they characters in the Beach Town. Probably because the I’m much older now and pay attention to people besides myself and have the ability to “see” the characters and celebrate their unique approach to the world rather get bitched up because they aren’t just like me.

I’m not completely free of my Redneck roots because I think the local locals--the actual Mexicans who have lived here their whole lives--are colorful, too. On the corner of the square, is the cab stand and the cab drivers come in all shapes and sizes and span the gamut of ages from 20ish to 50ish. They sit on the benches and gossip with each other all day, too. I would love to know what they talk about because they have probably seen it all, driving people to and from the airport, the markets and the larger towns to the north and south of our fishing village. My guess is if you live in PM you have to be very secretive if you are doing something or someone you aren’t supposed to be doing. Charming to an outsider but ultimately it can become repressive and suffocating if you live it. My favorite local character is a tiny elderly Mayan man who sits in a chair near the pier. Years before he would scavenge the beach but I think one of the local dive shop owners took pity on him and gave him a job selling scuba trips. Yesterday me and TG took the bikes to the dock to purchase the fresh catch of the day and as we approached the dock, “Charlie Brown” (his name for himself) said to us with a broad sweep of his hand: “Welcome to my Doorway to the Sea!”


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