February 5, 2015
West Coast Mexico; Redux: Playa Azul
If you believe that you need some tuning up in the realm of patience, I can recommend a road trip down the west coast of Mexico to assure an outcome that you will become either a mountain of patience or utterly frazzled and burnt out, a basket case!
The road is fascinating; the landscape verdantly green and tropically beautiful with gardens of coco palms, of papaya, and a sea of natural vegetation: grasses, bushes, flowering trees. The road itself, sometimes even smoothly paved with a yellow line down the center, is two trucks wide at the best without a shoulder: the overgrowth of the land comes directly to the asphalt. Sometimes there is a white line on the right but not always. Without a right side white line, trucks especially, and all the traffic hovers over the yellow line making it a necessity to slow to their speed especially over the slow grades up to higher ground. It’s not possible to see around the huge trucks piled high with dry brown cane. I never did take the lead of the Mexican cowboys to pass on curves up these grades preferring a slower life to the roulette chance of meeting oncoming traffic.
It is beautiful. It is greener than you have been able to imagine. It is lush and fragrant in the wind of the air conditioning blowing at me through the windows. It is almost and only 30 mph to drive here so I have the opportunity of momentary glances out to my left and right to view the astonishing natural garden on the hilly land. And it is also tedious after the first few hours and necessary to stop, pull off as best I can, take a deep drink of water and just wait for a while walking around a bit.
It is just this kind of narrow highway that led me south of Manzanillo and still further south for a much longer day than had been before. When I came near dusk to the T in the road to the left was Lazaro Cardenas, to the right, Playa Azul. I went only a short distance down the left road until I realized that I was not meant to go there.
Turning around in a dirt driveway, the right turn road led me to Playa Azul, a small, quaint, still old fashioned beach side town with the local cantinas and restaurants near the shore line, the downtown abarrotes under corrugated roofs, dirt roads and thronging people. I asked a trucker standing by the road about parking as it was now very nearly dark. He waved me vaguely down the street along the beach but as I very slowly made my way viewing the camps and cantinas, none of them said they were parking for me. Finally, I turned around and came back until I saw a big truck parked on a side street next to the white and blue painted Hotel Andrea. I stopped on the street opposite to rest and reconnoiter my situation. I might have easily parked safely in the street.
Looking across the cement yard of the hotel, I saw several people sitting at a table conversing. Shortly thereafter, I turned the van on and drove very slowly and respectfully through the gates and parked across the cement paved yard opposite the two story row motel, and slid down the seat to the pavement. As I walked across the yard, I saw two young men who were LDS missionaries talking with an earnest young woman over their books of Mormon. I went closer and said, “Buenas noches.”
The Universe has her ways to show us our sweetness and pleasure. Being invited to sit, I discovered English speaking people. We quite soon indulged in some rousing conversation that engaged all of us for about an hour. Erica introduced herself and we made a deal about my staying there at least for one night. I was thankful to sit in the cool air and relax after the long day.
I stayed there for 3 days transacting my healing services with Erica and her mother, Theodora, for my lodging with the luxury of a simple shower and a flat bed. We three had a delightful time of it as women will. The motel was, I believe, somewhat similar to many such establishments along the Latin way. The lot was cement walled in on two sides with the two story walls of the motel forming the other two. There was a tall, double iron gate shut at night that formed the final boundary to the place. Planted at the corners were tall coco palms. There were a total of 20 places, one downstairs was ‘prive’ for Erica and her mother when she visited, one was the office and under the center stairs leading to the second floor was the storage area especially for water which was brought in in 5 gallon jugs by a hardy truck driver. Above, on the roof was an old cistern that likely had been for water, and several clothes lines where sheets and bed spreads were flying in the wind.
Each room had two beds set on cement slabs, with cement stands alongside and ‘head boards’ painted blue on the white walls. There was a white plastic table and two white chairs in the corner next to the bathroom door; a mirror and tray fastened to the wall opposite the beds. The bathroom was white tiled to the roof with a shower at the end wall with a slightly sloping floor into the drain, a toilet about 5 feet down and a sink another 2 feet next to the door, all of this open, spare and utterly clean, for a single person 200 pesos a night.
It took this serendipity as a perk to rest and relax and attempt once again to fix the broken window in the rear of the van. I went to a meeting with Erica Saturday morning to listen to Spanish and to discern a little of the cadence and rhythm of the language. We also went shopping ‘downtown’ in the one short block of mercado to abarottes, the grocery store finding local tomatoes, avocados, romaine lettuce, a pineapple without a Dole label on it anywhere, a papaya, the same and ripe, a huge crunchy bunch of celery just the thing to tune up the kidney function through the winter as I am beginning to get seasoned to the tropics. It was a 4 meal feast all for about $4.25. I’ll take it, muy gracias!
Erica, although much younger than I, is, like me, not a married woman. Because she is somewhat different than the average female person in this culture, her education sets her apart from the many women who are encouraged to be only and simply mothers. She had been trained as a computer scientist and so spoke fluent and educated English. Her curiosity and mine was a match and so our conversations held us engaged and deeply satisfied spending two morning desayunos together over the table. Her grandmother made breakfast for us and grandfather bicycled it over to the motel. We spread the table and ate between the bites of conversation that enthralled us. I believe we were both ready for the treat that we offered each other; although it is a truth that neither of us is really lonely, the opportunity for lively talk is irresistible.
There are times and places, my dear friends, that call on us to be ready without anything else going on to simply be in the moment and grow up all over again. It is these moments that we can look back on when we are older and enjoy them again and again.
After breakfast Monday morning, I took the short drive to Lazaro Cardenas where I found the last free wifi opportunity at a MacDonald’s that afternoon. It seemed obvious to use the time to catch up on the mail before taking off the next morning for the longer drive to Acapulco. Little did I know that this was the last for a 2 week media blackout while I traveled even further down the coast of Mexico to the border of Guatemala and then to El Salvador.
All these blog entries are coming to you courtesy of a sojourn in Puente Arce, El Salvador, where I am able to rest, write and wait for my financial situation to sort itself out. I am being gifted by the Great Universe through a new friend, George (who finessed my border crossing here), and his family simply to be in the flow of love and kindness, learn a little Hispanic culture, swim in the river that flows between El Salvador and Guatemala at this place, and catch up on the writing. I hope you will enjoy the results. And Thank You for staying with me all this way! I have made it about half way to Ecuador! Imagine that!