When in Mexico you may find in the town square those of their golden years seated on a bench, they’ll be there all day, at peace, muttering this or that to their peers on benches close by, but mostly just taking in the world as it moves around them.
All we’d gone for was a wave check and a smoke. The barrel of the joint burned longer than any we saw at sea. Before the spark was applied we passed a female trio gathered around a telephoto lens pointed toward boyfriends hunting waves. From our driftwood seat a figure gains proportion down the desolate beach, a woman carrying a stick on a return journey from nowhere. She’d raise the stick then smack the sand without interrupting her conversation with God knows what. Continuous chatter with clothes of taters accented her unacknowledged pass. Best let her be. Suspicions raised, the joint passed, we heard the first cry.
Heads twist to find beach lady in the faces of tripod girls. A second of assessment then, action! Going as fast as we could through the deep sand, one girl defended the camera as the others covered up from the stick she now lashed at them screaming profane nonsense. We interrupt her world ending rant by inserting ourselves between beach lady and the trio, offsetting the situation. We tried reason.
“They weren’t bothering anybody, why don’t you just carry on.”
“You come to my town my beach with your fancy equipment and what do you do for me? You take your photos to show everybody but what happens to me?”
The girl responsible for the camera spoke up, “we won’t take anymore photos we’ll put it away.”
“Oh sure, I don’t care about you, I don’t care about your camera, you people are all the same, you stay for a few weeks then you go back to big cities and jobs the hell with you.” She raised her stick and brought it down on our flank.
One of the girls reached out and grabbed my elbow as she stepped behind for cover. I felt the tremble in her grip, the fear present in her touch. A pure and pulsating fear, a kind I’d known myself but never felt in another person. I looked down at my elbow caught off by the intensity her still gentle touch communicated. I knew exactly what she was feeling, the uncertainty, why won’t she just go away already?
I put on my best smile for beach lady in hopes of easing her fury. She returned a mocking smile, her teeth few and far between, some pointed up the beach some down.
“It’s all one love right, no worries, well fuck you.”
Just then her husband passed by machete in hand and yelled for her to leave us alone. This brings tears to her eyes, she blew him a kiss then continued her verbal assault.
“Maybe for you my husband left me and now he won’t share his crystal with me no more.”
Okaaaayyyy, time to go, with the tripod shouldered we gave up our position. Her curses followed us the few hundred yards back to town with vague pursuit. Finally one of the locals came to our rescue denouncing her actions and apologized, “she used to be normal, plump and happy then the devil drugs corrupted her.”
Things were still tense, we were lucky no one was hurt. We learned that she and a few others lived in the jungle down the beach a ways and caused minor trouble from time to time.
During our trip three of our five got sick from the water in Mexico, as you do. One day we drove South into Michoacán, clocking kilometers on the infamous Bandido Highway where many a tourists turn hostage if they’re lucky, the unlucky ones are never heard from, to a surf spot called La Ticla. A 20 minute hike through a river mouth, prickly grass trails, and across blistering hot rocks lead to a natural bay, coaxing south swells into its cove creating long wrapping lefts. Within an hour in the water one of our crew was overcome by waves of nausea retiring him the beach.
In a fever he sought shade under the only structure on the beach, a small palapa made from materials in the abutting jungle. Our welcoming party was a mixed bag of travelers from France to New Zealand cracking coconuts and cheersing beers. A space was made for our sickly to stretch out, two of the girls left down a different path on a beer run. They returned and handed out crisp beverages which we applied to the neck and forehead of our sidelined surfer. A testament to Victor Frankel, it’s not where you are but how you are, some magic of the 8 ball, the internal supersedes the external. We smash open coconuts and savor its juicy flesh. A bunch of strangers brought together by a sense of place, bound by its beauty, cast under serine spell, why did it have to end?
We left for the airport down a too straight road with nothing but palm trees on either side, the lone female of our group said what we were all thinking, “I can’t get over how big the shopkeeper’s breasts were, she must not be able to see her toes.” We all agreed on that. “You never know my muffin.”