Friday, August 13, 2010

Mexico - Chapter One

We spent the entirety of our first three days in Mexico at the place we are lodging; . This sounds typically American of us - conventional, safe, unexciting, and not at all like what two seasoned travelers and returned Peace Corps Volunteers would do, but the thing is...we're just so damn comfortable. I admit that our very first day here I was worried about boredom setting in quickly.  As is usual with pessimistic personalities I conjured up negative situations and my head spun with thoughts like: we didn't bring enough books; the bungalow should be bigger for the price we're paying; will they clean our room everyday; can bugs get into our room; is there anything to do here besides surf; I'm going to be ready to leave in a couple of days and ruin this vacation for Chris...Then I did what any self-respecting pessimist would do - I had a drink.  To be fair, it was also my birthday and somewhere the rules say you have to get drunk on your birthday and I'm not known for breaking many rules.  Apparently the rules also say that if taking antihistamines like Claritin and Sudafed one should avoid alcohol due to an increased drowsiness.  This is a rule I broke and after only my second drink, a stiff margarita on a full stomach of tuna ceviche and chicken breast with mole sauce, I passed out.  Chris tells me the sun was still setting in the sky.

The next morning I awoke less pessimistic and more confused.  After Chris filled me in on the facts of my undoing and then added how he spent the two hours before he was able to fall asleep (he lied in the hammock  talking to himself while sipping on his third or fourth stiff margarita) my pessimism had decreased drastically as humility and love towards my husband increased.  This was particularly bolstered when he told me that before falling asleep himself he had to give me a rough shake to make sure I was still alive.  When I grumbled my incoherent protest he knew I would survive the night and that he could sleep peacefully.

As it turns out, we have been able to find ways to keep boredom at bay: we wake up early to take advantage of all our free time which begins with a surf for Chris and reading for me - currently The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. 

A couple of hours later we have breakfast and coffee.  Then we have a second cup of coffee on the patio of our bungalow while we intermittently read and stare out at the pacific ocean.

This usually lasts for a few hours with a possible unplanned nap in between.  Later Chris goes off for another surf session and I take a dip in the infinity pool and swim a few laps.

Afterwards I read a few more short stories and when I need a break from that I wander along the beach towards the point where Chris is surfing.  I stop at the tide pools along the way to see what the small fish and crabs are up to and then I sit on a rock and watch Chris catch waves.

Once the wind has scattered the waves into unsurfable tubes of foam we head back to our bungalows to cuddle and prepare for dinner (which usually means putting something over our bathing suits). Our day time activities tend to run the same course.  Our night time activities differ, but not by any extremes.  For example, Tuesday night we shared shrimp and mushroom quesadillas and a plate of spicy shrimp tacos,

whereas on Wednesday night we dined on Hawaiian style sashimi with a mango and avocado salsa, along with a large green chile stuffed with potato puree and manchego cheese. More differences: at The Inn on Manzanillo Bay Tuesday nights are called Tequila Tuesdays and Wednesday are known by no special name.  This small detail delights me because Tuesdays have always been overshadowed by other days of the week which are given fun, special names like Hump Wednesday, College Night Thursday, and Sunday Funday.   Here, in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, Tuesday has its moment of glory. 

On Tequila Tuesdays Michelle LaValle, a plump Canadian woman, and her husband Pedro serenade the patrons of The Inn at Manzanillo Bay. Michelle, the star of the show, strums her guitar and sweetly seduces our tequila ears with gorgeous renditions of popular ballads from Canada, Colombia, Italy, and, of course, Mexico. For two solid hours the husband and wife duo entertain.

Pedro, who spends most of the time silently sitting by his wife's side even has his own hazy time to shine when he belts out a sing-along tune called "Por el Vino me Quede Despelon" (The wine/drink made me bald). I'd never heard the song before but it sounds like it is one for those Mexican Rancheros that every Mexican knows by memory and probably learned when they were ten years old watching their dads drink tequila and lose their hair.
After Chris and I had had our third strong margarita on the rocks
we requested that Michelle sing "Paloma Negra", a song I first heard sung by Chavela Vargas in the Frida movie and have heard by many others since.  A song so utterly depressing and probably soaked in tequila that it makes you want to sob but you can't because you're so enraptured by its brutal beauty that your eyes freeze and your jaw drops.  A song I've only heard women sing, a song which gives me goosebumps and makes me love it ferociously as though it were for women alone. Michelle LaValle answered "En serio" to our request and we eagerly nodded our heads. Being the professional entertainer that she is she knew the song by memory and filled every crevice of our souls with the melancholy tune. We then showed our gratitude by buying them each a pricey shot of tequila and later by inviting them to sit with us so that we could learn the story of how they met.

During the mid 1990s Michelle was living in Zihuatenejo (which is where Andy and Red from Shawshank Redemption meet after leaving prison) singing and playing her guitar at different establishments around the sleepy coastal town.  She knew Pedro - whom at that time she referred to as "Don Pedro" - because he worked at one of the restaurants where she sang.  Being a multi-lingual foreigner from Quebec who could play guitar well and sing fantastically had made Michelle a popular person in Zihuatenejo.  When she personally asked Don Pedro to meet her at one of her shows he was surprised and refused to believe that the young, pretty, and talented Canadian would want to spend time with him. So the coward told her he would go see her show and then did not go, deciding to work that night instead of watching her sing.  Michelle was so indignant over his rejection of her that she, naturally, began to like Don Pedro even more.  After hearing this I asked Don Pedro if he had planned it that way knowing that confident women who feel they have been wronged by a man will often see that man as a challenge they must win.  He laughed at this suggestion and said that no, he really did not think Michelle could ever be interested in him, especially since he is much older than her. But I saw the twinkle in his eyes which told me that indeed his refusal to see her that night had all been part of his plan.  And it worked because in the summer of 1998 they were married and in the fall their first daughter was born.  Now they have three girls and Don Pedro is a regular part of her show. Also, she doesn't call him "Don" anymore: now it's "Pedrito".

1 comment:

Papi said...

A great story!