Monday, September 14, 2009

Thank God for Starbucks

On Saturday, I drove the Beast over to El Centro, and visited a little bookstore by Woolworth's to get my copy of Julie and Julia, my new reading group's book selection for October. I hope it's worth the $144 pesos. Then I walked to the home of Erica and Jeff, my new American friends. They live on Aldama Street directly up the hill from the malecon and the surreal bronze sea monster sculptures by Alejandro Colunga.

Erica reminds me of one of Paul Gaugin's Tahitian girls with mocha skin and cupid bow lips that other women try to achieve with collagin injections. Jeff was out sailing for the day, so we relaxed in the kitchen of their deliciously bohemian apt. She has the luxury of a Mexican washing machine, which basically just agitates the clothes in soapy water. She then has to rinse things out in the sink and hang them to dry on an indoor clothesline. She doesn't have a stove or a microwave. The family cooks all their meals on a hotplate. I guess Jeff is really into this spartan lifestyle, but Erica misses the modern conveniences.

She and I walked to the tourist office near the Iglesia for the local English-speaking newspaper, and then stopped in Starbucks. I treated myself to a frapuccino and we soaked up the a/c for a few minutes. Coffee snobs in the US label Starbucks "Corporate Coffee," but when you are homesick in a foreign country, there's comfort in seeing that green mermaid sign...and dare I say it, even the Golden Arches...

Sunday morning, Israel called me in tears. Someone broke into his room in the Casa de Asistencia and stole all his money -- 800 pesos he'd worked all week to earn. Whoever did it was able to pick the padlock on the inside through a hole in the door, with Israel fast asleep. They even stole his pocket change. He was bereft. I went over to pick him up and we snapped up Bo and took off for the beach, stopping at the OXXO store for a litre of Coke. We drove past Bucerias until we found a turnoff for a lovely public beach with almost no one around. We spent the entire day floating in the waves. Bo has become quite brave around the water and will run belly-deep into the surf, then roll in the sand like a crazy dog.

What can I say about Israel. He's crazy about me. But the difference between him and Stephen is that he respects me and gives me full reign of my bossy streak. He will say, "Ennytheen ju want my darleen. We be jes frenz." He is a bit of a nervous nelly, though, and keeps an eye on the waves and won't let me stray too far out into the water. He tells me how his friend Daniella was stung on the leg by a stingray last year. "I dunn trust the ocean. " Anyway, he is a good and loyal friend, and right now, the only real pal I have. We came back to the neighborhood late in the day, just in time for a nice sprinkle of rain. We sat on the balcony and for the first time since I arrived, enjoyed a cool breeze. It felt so good, we just sat out there with the rain sprinkling on us, cooling down the sunburn. I pulled out my guitar and tried to remember a few songs. The strings on my guitar are rusty from the humidity, but I got applause from the guy down below when I sang "Lo Siento Me Vida," a Linda Ronstadt song I learned phonetically thirty years ago. At least now I understand some of the words.

This morning, I called Jimmy, our sales manager about a sales appointment. Someone broke into his apt. and stole his laptop. Poor Jimmy. Now he won't be able to watch his Pole Dancer screen saver...

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