Monday, March 8, 2010

Casa Cloutman, a New Chapter

A few weeks ago, Marcella alerted us about a group rental from Mar 6-20, which meant that me, Marcella and Francisco, our druggie Musician handyman, had to vacate Casa Alexandra. I contacted my old friend Seth Cloutman for suggestions and he invited me to move into the room overlooking his pool and garden, above the garage. I put most of my stuff in the basement of Casa Alexandra and transferred my art and luggage to Casa Cloutman, which is located even further up a steep hill in Col. Cinco de Diciembre. Today, we were moving things around in the Beast and Israel accidently dropped a geode I'd been hauling around while debating the philosophical implications of cracking it open. We watched it roll/bounce down, down, down the cobblestone street. I'm sure it rolled all way to the beach. Hope it didn't damage any parked cars on the way...

Casa Cloutman

While Casa Alexandra sprawled vertically over three floors, Seth's house is engineered horizontally, with a front terrace facing the bay on the main floor, an even larger rooftop terrace above that, and then behind the main house, a bungalow that looks out onto a walled garden and small swimming pool. The room above the bungalow is accessible only by a narrow wrought iron spiral staircase. It's pure feng shui simplicity, with exposed brick walls, terra cotta tile floors and clay tile roof. A large window opens toward the bay. No fridge or cooking facilities. The bathroom is in its own separate enclosure outside. There are plenty of opportunities to take one false step and fall off the roof onto the patio below. Right now, Bo gingerly hobbles up the spiral staircase, But he has to be carried down. In a couple of days, after current tenants have vacated, I'll move to the bungalow below, which is adorable and reminds me of the cottage where Beatrix Potter penned her children's books. The cottage living room window looks directly out onto the pool, palm trees and bougainvillas. We are visited frequently by Seth's two chihuahuas, who I refer to as Satan's minions. They're yappy, but very cute. Chihuahuas seem to be the dogbreed of choice in the gay community of PV.

All this moving is getting wearisome, and I've felt like I'm treading water in my current situation. I'm preparing Israel for the reality that I will be leaving Vallarta at the end of the month for some time back in the states with family, and to figure out arrangements for a home and a job. Israel was unable to keep up with the rent at his last place and has become a semi-permanent part of my living equation. No matter how many times I remind him that he has to start ponying up money to contribute if he wants to live with me...his contributions are token at best. I'm looking at my departure as an opportunity to break free from his dependence on me. Maybe by the time I return, his situation will have improved. Or maybe not. Either way, I want to be alone for awhile.

The Oscars, Mexican Style

I've been preoccupied with current circumstances. Last night, I tried to watch the Oscars on Mexican TV, but much was lost in translation as Mexican commentators talked over the program. So I packed up Israel and we came down to the PV Beach Club and watched it from the bar. Israel lost patience with the smokers (which I don't much like either) at the bar and we left before the Best Picture Oscar was announced. I thought it was a lackluster show...though I liked the Steve Martin/Alec Baldwin combo. James Taylor singing "In My Life" was a nice touch during the "In Memoriam" segment.

Ah, the Sweet Aroma of Pee

The other night, after I picked up Israel from his workstation near Restaurant Xtomate, we parked the car and decided to stroll the malecon. Israel had a long shmooz with an Italian man and I purchased a child's whirligig from a street vendor. We walked by the open-air discos with their fantastic lighting, banks of TVs and dramatic decor -- the latest has zebra-wrapped double beds on stilts.

We made our way back to the car and I had Israel insert the whirligig where my antenna used to be. As we drove home, Israel complained about the stench of urine in the car..."I theenk Bo, he pee in here," he said. But we soon realized it wasn't Bo we smelled. Someone had peed on the passengerside windshield and fender while the car had been parked. Yecch. After we got home, we wiped the mess off with a rag and some Pinol disinfectant. Yeah, it was disgusting, but hey, this is Mexico. It's all part of the local color.


Israel's attempts at English are a constant source of amusement. I told him once that I could get Bo to bark on command by saying "Is there a squirrely out there, Bo?" But when Israel tries to say it, it comes out "Shwirs," as in "Get the shwirs, Bo." He can't figure out why he doesn't get the same response from Bo that I get!

Seth Cloutman, My Mensch

This morning as Israel and I were loading up Bo in the car, I caught sight of Seth and made my way over to visit briefly. We spoke quietly about my situation. Nearly the first thing out of his mouth was that he wanted to help me out by offering me free rent in the bungalow in exchange for PR for his catering business and his many charitable causes. And he said he wanted to help launch me if I wanted to start my own PR firm in Vallarta. I gave him a big kiss on the cheek. I've been in need of some positive reinforcement. Seth's extravagant meals for the rich and connected of Puerto Vallarta, is largely foreign to me. But he likes what I've written about and for him in Banderas News, and we connect on a brother/sister level. Seth comes from humble, difficult beginnings. I think he appreciates that I don't put on airs -- unlike so many in PV's shee-shee posturing, monied classes. Anyway, we're going to discuss this idea more at length in the next couple of days.

So, now I'm trying to gear up for the long, long drive back north. My Mexican car insurance has expired, so it might be wise to renew before I leave. I'll take off sometime between the 20th and the 1st. Will keep everyone posted.


  1. What a newsy post, Bird. It feels like we just talked for an hour!

  2. I love reading your blog, Bird. Quite the life you're leading! :-) Pray for you often and now as decisions are coming your way. Take care!