An island girl exploring

One Chapter Closes

Here’s the thing. I have fallen in love with this pueblo and will be leaving my heart here, tears falling, when I leave tomorrow. The gatherings have been sweet; we will remember each other just as we are. It’s a magic fairy land, like the sweetest dream filled with soft air, bright flowers, happy friends and always the waves. I will return.

I’m in love with the Mexicans. Every morning, every dirt floor is swept perfectly clean. The children go to school in starched, blinding white uniforms, with big, glowing smiles. There’s a sparkling clean free clinic here, dentist included. Everyone’s healthy. There’s a whole entire building for AA and another one for Al-Anon; they wear t-shirts proclaiming their sobriety. (I guess the second A stands for advertising.) Extended families everywhere; everyone’s welcome and at home at anyone’s house. Cousins have grown up together and they stay here, blending the next generation. There is not one storage unit; no extra stuff. Happiness.

The village is adorable. It is totally safe in this whole entire town to leave your doors unlocked, your valuables in plain sight, your stuff out on the road — it will be there in the morning. Once a year, the “expo” comes to town, with parades, dances, rides, rodeos, cockfights, the crowning of the 14-year-old queen(s). The deal is, no one comes out ’til after sunset (too hot); the kids are playing ’til all hours. Dads sit beside their eight-year-old son driving the truck. Four people on a motorbike; truckloads of workers. Some people happily walk for ten miles to get to the highway and catch the morning bus; never late for work. And back again. La la la.

I’ve made lifelong friends this winter. Many Coloradans here this year – G and I may have to take a road trip this summer to visit. Fun, huh?

Here’s the wrapup. Hotsprings – check. Historic villages – check. Shells collected – check. Not one sunburn. Sponsee still clean and sober, new coaching client back on track. Chipped tooth fixed. Finally had to get “the commisario” (read: sheriff) to get my 15oo pesos from Chico for the rental car fender bender (Jorge’s recommendation; said he needed an authority figure to pony up the cash). Ramiro fixed me right up; got the cash the day after I talked to him. To avoid making me walk all the way into the centro to pick it up, taxi queen Reina (love this woman) brought it to my house. I am held. Cared for.

Sos here’s the other thing. I know this is  exactly the right time for me to return to my island home, which is beautiful and filled with love. My perfect next step is to get on that plane tomorrow and fly home to my beloveds. The next chapter begins, what a wonderful adventure. I so love my life. Soon the gentle sunrises and my constant companions the waves will fade like a dream. It’s my ideal life to spend winters in Mexico and the rest on Vashon Island. My dream is coming true. I could not be more grateful.

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La Playa

Man, I love me some beach. For certain, inherited it from my mother, who had to do regular beach walks; would drive for hours when she lived inland. I’d always found them challenging — when I was younger, I had so many more important things to do. Later, it was physically challenging. Now, I embrace them with all my heart. I’ve been walking daily, a long way (for me). I find just the right firmness of sand, and thrill at each little noticing.

Whether it’s the ghost crabs, the softness of the air, a tiny panga filled with nine fishermen purring by, a morning surfer, or incoming water surprising my ankles with a kiss.

Is it just me, or do the waves actually have personalities? Some are confused, some loving, a bunch of them gang up and start pounding, then there are the shy ones. None are silly, though. They can be playful, but always with purpose. Meditation teachers liken them to our monkey minds, with so very much action going on at the surface, when down below all is quiet and calm. I literally cannot wrap my mind around the entire, whole worlds that are down there, below the sea, with mountains and canyons and lost civilizations and all.

Then there are the amazing things you can find on the beach (other than plastic to pick up and take home). The most perfect, tiny pink shell that hasn’t been the least bit bothered by battering water. An altar for no apparent reason.  An entire former tree who survives the summer storms by simply changing orientation, and becoming even more beautiful. A tree that knows it belongs on the beach.

Some days, walking the beach is like going to Thriftway — it can take hours by the time you stop and visit with all the friends you come across. Get caught up on the local news. Who’s coming, who’s leaving. The gringoes are definitely like the tides on the beach — a regular infusion of fresh energy. Who needs help. Who’s having a party. Whose parents are arriving. Grandchildren. Who’s playing at Eden or Present Moment tonight? Where shall we go for dinner. Just like at home — takes hours.

And then some people enjoy the beach by simply sitting still:

After the New Moon last week, with requisite beachfire ceremonies, the tides were really high and the sand was too soft to walk for a few days. Just as well, as I’d overdone it a bit, legwise, and my body said it needed a break. I missed my beachwalks. Today, the sand firmness was perfect once again, and all is right with the world.

Los Critters

The whales have finally arrived, breaching everywhere! They’re quite late this year, by my clock (which they could care less about). Putting on quite a show, though. I’ve heard of dolphin sightings as well, but am eluded.

My favorite way to wake up in Mexico is the scritcha-squeak call of the Gila Woodpecker in the papaya snag (oh, rats – Jorge just cut it down). No shortage of papaya snags around these parts, fortunately — they also love the ripe fruit (don’t we all?). Thanks to G for buying the Mexican bird book.

They love the sun and insects – the Yellow-winged Cacique are among the prettiest, but the mynahs are everywhere (and def the noisiest). I especially love when they line up, ten across, at the edge of Shelley’s infinity pool and bob up and down drinking water like those glass birds with the mercury inside.

I’ve taken Alejandro’s amazing kayak tour of the lagoon a couple of times now, and loved watching the cormorants drying their wings (do you think maybe they’re the Vashon ones just wintering here?). The pink Duck-billed Rosette is really fun to watch fly away, and I never tire of the elegant egret/ibis family.

On the beach are herons, blue and green (but not so Great, really), egrets, and dozens of pelicanos. Amazing how they can fly in straight-line formation, twelve of these huge birds, with their wing tips only a half inch from a breaking wave. Never a single error. And sometimes, a beakfull of fishies as well (which would definitely throw me off-balance – just sayin’).

Love watching these little guys dance back and forth, tirelessly.

And the Magnificent Frigate Bird never ceases to thrill.

The iguanas are chameleonic, it turns out – on a palm frond fifty feet in the air, they’re yellow and black striped and scurrying out of the forest across a dusty road, they’re the brightest of greens. Some of them are gigantic! It’s mating season (don’t ask). There are a few scary critters, of course (some are lethal), but the wispiest-possible Daddy Longlegs I find in the sink are downright enchanting. Next time, I’ll bring a butterfly book – there’s a huge, white one that always catches my eye, and others with colors and patterns of every stripe. Do you think this one only feeds on plants that match?

Now, many of you may associate this fine country with the dog called Chihuahua. Not here – it’s dachshunds. They’re everywhere in my little world here, and I love them. I want one (don’t tell Snooch and Buddy, though, ok?). Of course, there are scruffy Mexican dogs running around, and many of the “Norteamericanos” bring their beloveds. Callie, a svelte black lab friend, was frolicking in the pool today with the children, playing tag.

I found a one-inch crab in my shower one evening, too — can’t help but wonder what he was looking for to crawl such a long way from the beach. Do you think they have elaborate underground tunnels daylighting into shower drains all over town? Perhaps they glean power from my salon conditioner. Who knows, this is Mexico.

To the Mountains

Sometimes, you just have to leave the beach. Like when Estela y Jorge want to take you and Wendy on an adventure, that’s when. Been here six weeks and everyone says You have to go to Patzcuaro! Or, You haven’t been to Patzcuaro? Or some such. Manifestation occurred. Wendy just met Estela and I a couple weeks ago, but we are all heart-bonded now(June babies?). We spoke Spanish together most of the time and, since Estela speaks English well from her 16 years in Chicago, we rapidly  learned any words we didn’t already know. Jorge was our ever-valient chauffeur (don’t know how to say that in Spanish yet), and we got there in record time. It’s been cool and rainy here for a week, but we were told it gets really cold up in the mountains (like 49), so I borrowed a hat (in which I slept), gloves (no comments, please), and wore extra socks.

We braved the weather and sight-saw, shopped and ate — so fun to see the same antiquity I enjoyed in Rome. Ok, so it’s 15th century instead of 1st century. Hey, I’m from California — anything before 1920 is ancient, right?

But, I get a head of myself. First, we went to the big city of Morelia (old, old) and took a bus tour around the original part of the town. Past the jail where the evil Spaniards imprisoned priests for life (if they weren’t immediately beaten to death) and the convent where there was one little door for the seven-year old girls as they entered (never to leave) and a second entrance for regular people. At least that’s what Estela told me; the hourlong tour was in Spanish, of course, and way too fast for me to follow. It was cool.

Here are a few of the pics I took (on Wendy’s camera — how will I ever blog with mine broken, I ask you). The aqueduct was just like the one in Rome – amazing.

 After getting stuck in Morelia’s (not-so-ancient) rush hour, we escaped to the tranquility of sweet little Patzcuaro, every bit as enchanting as advertised. And how cool are these doors?

There was a priest (long ago) who wanted the indigenous people to be independent of the (aforementioned evil) Spaniards. There’s a lake near Patzcuaro (of course, it’s named Lake Patzcuaro, silly!) — he taught the locals to be artisans and crafters, so yet today there are many little villages all around the lake, each specializing in textiles, copperware, stone carvings, or woodworking. And los Indios lived happily ever after. Well, at least they got a bunch of tourists to come shop there, and that was a good thing. We went to the village called Tzintzuntzan (so fun to say), the first capitol of the state of Michoacan, where Wendy set about finding a new dresser for her beach house. First, we came upon the stone sculptors, then we found the furniture makers. Big fun.

As luck would have it, this happened to be the day of a big festival in Tzintzuntzan! It was some saint’s day — not the old one, St. Francis, he got beat out by some local Catholic-Indo politics (yes the Mayans and Catholics often worship together here). No one seemed to know who the new saint was, but he was obviously very popular. People were walking ten miles and more to get to this little festival – you could tell that some of the folks only leave their rustic farms rarely, and they were duded up for this event.

We only spent one night on our little adventure up into the mountains, but had such a wonderful time. There were many toll roads, and the military stopped us a couple of time. They were so sweet and respectful (didn’t hurt that “we” were Mexican, I’m sure). Turns out the government is looking for bad guys, in order to protect their #1 GNP: Me! (Tourism.)

The Mexican people who live in places like Troncones, where people from the US and Canadia have settled, are actually safer because of it. They are protected by our gringo asses from the bad guys, too. Win-win.

Not sure I’ll ever get used to the truckloads of young men in their spiffy uniforms driving around Mexico with their automatic weapons, but it has always been so.

Roberto’s Dancers

Most Saturday nights at Roberto’s Bistro up the beach, you can attend a delightful and energetic performance of the traditional dances of several Mexican states (there are 31, plus DF), which is very worthy. I cannot fathom the calories these talented dancers use up each evening. This first one is from the state of VeraCruz:

        

Sonora’s offering is a hunting scenario. What’s unusual about it is that, at the end, both deer and hunter die:

The famous Old Man Dance is from Michoacan:

Baja is actually two states (north and south); a little more contemporary:

And last, but not least, from Jalisco, the traditional Mexican Hat Dance (yes, you know the tune — hum along):


Then, when their show is over, they line-dance (in costume), to Achy-Breaky Heart in Spanish (I could not make this up). After that, the disco starts, which is really big fun, complete with light show. The young town girls get all dressed up and show off some serious moves! There’s a DJ that puts out some mad beats (yo) — Madonna, MJ, the whole disco dealio. Ok, I did get up and shake my ample booty to “Celebrate”, if you must know (Kool, not Madge).

Ancient Messages Sink In

Lately, I notice a seemingly endless emerging of new messengers — new healing modalities, new programs of study, new inspirational music (some of it thousands of years old). Or am I just opening? Nearly six weeks in (and three to go), I’m sinking deeper into what seems to be my authentic purpose and noticing so much more.

My latest path is meeting people who share a new technique, and Miss Know-it-All gets to say, “Wow, what is that? I’ve never heard of it.” — what an eye-opening privilege. It took me to this wizened age to realize the vast stores of lack-of-knowlege within me. Cool.

Kirtan, for example. My first experience was here, oddly the very same week it happened to be offered on Vashon at the Zen Center. The leader described the call-and-response Sanskrit chanting as vibrational yoga, to heal all on this planet. Very trancey. The singing seems to shut off the thinking part of my brain, allowing deeper meditation. I’ll attend my third gathering tomorrow night. Who knew this has been going on for millenia? Oh, you did?  (When the student is ready, the teacher appears.)

And Qi Gong — been wanting to learn it for years, and now here it is; Present Moment offers continual opportunities. Last night, Brazilian drumming, the night before, Contemplative Dance Practice. Yoga, yoga, yoga. Massage class. Meditation. I’m pretty om-ed up by now.

TED is also a neverending source of information and inspiration. “Words are really flimsy messengers for the fullness of experience” — Will Hewett (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=It8VtkHwtd4&sns=fb). “Time bows to authentic commitment and it stretches to accommodate it.” Indeed, time here is elastic. Just enough time — what matters is setting the intention for the day; all else falls into place.

I’m reading about restoring the divine feminine Kundalini energy to the planet and learning more about the Mayan messages, and how we can help them bring balance to the earth at this time. Oh, yes — Troncones is plenty woo woo. Meeting just the right women. Some of them are taking me inland next week to explore the 15th Century cathedrals in a colonial town, the local craftspeople’s offerings around the lake, and whatever indigenous amazement we can unearth. Do stay tuned.

Food

Been here a month now – the halfway point – and am settling into my best self.

I so love the food in Mexico – it’s fresh, local, varied, and delicioso! Some people come here to take a break from their normal lives and love eating out every meal. Like many visitors here, I also like to choose a new way of being in Mexico — I actually prepare most of my own meals! Most mornings, I can be found in my little outdoor kitchen spending an hour chopping tender papayas (with tiny limes, of course), juicy pineapple and the freshest bananas. Lunch is often guacamole or egg salad. Dinner shows up randomly.

Three times a week, on this remote, three-mile long stretch of beach, the produce man drives up to offer his treasures (he’s breaking in a new assistant this week, not nearly as sharp as the last young man). Unlike most seaside pueblos, Troncones is historically an agricultural village, with fishing a much more minor pursuit. He always has the freshest frutas y verduras (the eggs!) and sometimes surprises me with broccoli and romaine lettuce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course going out to eat is really fun, too, especially when someone’s mama’s ristorante is having their weekly special of pozole or chili relleno and meatballs (uh huh). It’s cheap to eat out, too, with amazing offerings of chicken mole, steak fajitas (did I mention I’m not vegetarian?), authentic enchiladas. And they’re so very grateful for the business.

There are about a dozen little Mexican restaurants in town this year (with more sprouting up all the time). And three fancier, gringo places. What’s interesting about this is that they often have no one in them. Or maybe two couples in a place that could fit 40. I can only guess that the leftovers stash impressively feeds entire extended families.

Tourism is down this year (well, none of you are here, right?). Some say it’s all the press about scary people (let’s review: who gains from this fearmongering?). Some say its the scary economy. There are lots of lovely, empty places to eat and stay. So many beachside homes are for sale (actually, everything’s for sale), yet some Americans/Canadians have been here for 20 years. The gringos all gather at Cafe Sol for breakfast (and french-pressed coffee) to share the latest gossip and tips for living or building in MX.

It’s beautiful, warm, friendly — and the food is great. Think I’ll stay another month.