Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Muerte in the Mean Streets

Last Thursday, as usual, I packed a baggie of dogfood for Nena, the little white terrier who lives around the bend, and who always greets me with happy whimpers. But as Bo and I made our way down the road, we were met by Martha and Lori, who said, "We have bad news. Nena is dead."

I found Nena on the road, hit by a car. She was pregnant, so my guess is she couldn't move out of the way fast enough for the oncoming car. Her little body, swollen with puppies, lay on its side -- thankfully, still intact. Blood from her mouth created a small halo around her head. Her boyfriend Julio, an emaciated chihuahua sat a few feet away, shivering and bereft. We wrapped her body in a towel, and Martha and I knocked on doors until we found a man with a shovel. We buried Nena at the edge of the jungle. I can see her grave from my balcony. I told Israel I want to create a Mexican shrine for Nena. She was such a sprite, such a bundle of love. I had secretly sworn to rescue her from her neglectful owners. But Nena's luck ran out before I could save her.

It's been a hectic couple of weeks. But the good news is the heat has broken and things have cooled off -- in part because of Pacific storms. Hurricane Rick is barreling north toward Cabo. All we've experienced here is some rain and overcast skies. I will head out later to check out the wave action on the beach.

Among my interviews this week, was a gay psychic who lives in Sayulita. It was a fun interview that veered off into matters of faith. Don't know if I will write the story. Dave may think it won't have a fiscal payoff...

This morning I watched a large starling pull an entire tortilla from the garbage and fly off with it. A bird's gotta' eat. That's certainly my philosophy.

I'm almost completely moved into the new apt. across the hall. It has sliding glass doors and balconies on two sides, making things very sunny and airy -- a vast improvement from my other hot, rainsoaked apt. The lizards still make their way in, but they just scurry over the walls and don't hurt anything. I've had to become a clean freak, training Israel on keeping counters clean and crumbs to a minimum, lest critters take hold. Sadly, the washing machine I was so excited about broke down after two wash cycles. Appliances in this building have no lifespan. Nearly every washer, dryer, coffee maker, refrigerator and computer has broken down.

We're all holding our breath for Nov 1, the official beginning of the high season in Vallarta. But there is a pall over the city. You can feel people's desperation. Huge luxury hotels continue to sit largely vacant. There's meanness on the streets. Israel encounters it every day as he tries to hustle business for the restaurants he promotes. He is routinely threatened by other promoters, just because he has a little success bringing tourists into his restaurant. I've been told that in Mexico, jealous rivalries are common. It's an every-man-for-himself gangster mentality that thrives on the destruction of competition. Which explains why Mexico remains a poor, violent country saturated with corruption.

Israel is concerned about his son Isaac. Israel's family life is a convoluted drama that Israel has tried hard to distance himself from. He is divorced and has two grown sons. Son Isaac, the one he calls "the good son," is an entrepeneur who runs a local disco. His other son, also Israel, is a sometime massage therapist, who has a bad drug problem. He lived with Israel in the family apt. until a few months ago, and routinely stole money from Israel. The guy is borderline psychotic. Some time ago, he had a little dog he loved to the point of near obsession. Israel tells me that a former girlfriend of Isaac had something to do with the disappearance of the dog. I don't know the whole story. But since that time, Israel, Jr., has had a seething hatred of his brother. He has threatened to kill Isaac. As of this morning, Isaac hasn't been heard from in two weeks. We're praying that Israel's younger son hasn't followed through with his threats. He may be just crazy enough to do it. It costs maybe $100 to order a "hit" on someone here.

Sunny Vallarta clearly has its dark side.

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