Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Latitudes and altitudes

I am back home in Juneau this week.

Although we reside in Arizona, we consider Alaska and Mexico to be home. The 2 are not that much different from each other. Really.

Maybe that is why I am so comfortable with Mexico. I already know how to deal with lack and abundance.

Both places have an abundance of tourist and natural beauty. Both lack faith in the Government. When Alaskans want/need something done, we do it ourselves. Usually Government comes in at the last minute and claims the credit for itself.

It's the rainy season here as well as Mexico. Actually it is the rainy season in Juneau all parts of the year. When it's not snowing. There is still snow on the Mountains, I can see some from this couch I am on. Some one call Vice President Gore and ask him about the warming thing.

Well, today I am going to go down to the cruise ship dock and sell tours along side my youngest daughter. It is aways fun to talk to the tourist. Most consider to Alaska to be a once and a lifetime adventure and their wide eyed expressions are priceless. Along with the comments like; " WOW, how beautiful, what is the altitude here?" umm, you are on a dock, just off a ship that is in the ocean...

It reminds me of listening to tourist on our way to Mexico. I have actually heard people say that they would love Mexico more if it wasn't so filled with Mexicans.

Obviously, Jimmy Buffet missed the point when he sang about changes in latitude, changes in attitudes. The attitudes of most tourist change not regardless of the latitude or altitude.

A pity.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My second time in Mexico, Part 3 of 3

The underwater scream was terrifying. It could have only been Keith; we were the only ones in the bay that early morning.

I came to the surface and looked back. Swimming towards me, he splits the snorkel out and shouts for me to swim to shore.

I didn’t question him, I swam. Fast. With swim fins, you can really move when you need too.

Something had taken a silver dollar size bite out of his lower back. Near his hip pocket. The pocket contained a soggy packet of crackers. Keith was trailing food like a human chum bucket. Snorkeling adventure over. Keith was fine and taking a line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail says…”it’s just a flesh wound”

I don’t know how we found this beach to start with; it was not on the beaten path. In fact there was no path at all. We parked the car in the desert and bushwhack our way down the steep incline. We didn’t take any provisions like water or food. We had thought there would be palapa bars and restaurants.

Hiking down also means a struggle up. I have a friend who calls flip flops “Go-aheads” because you cannot go backwards in them. You cannot go up a sandy hill with them either.

The sand was blistering hot. The flip flops provided no protection or traction. I was better off putting them on my hands. So that’s what I did. I have never been so hot, tired, dirty, salty, thirsty and hungry in all my life. I just wanted to get back to the car and away from “Biting Fish Bay”

Like refugees fleeing a war zone, we stopped at the first place we find. It was approaching noon. The small hotel/restaurant was out in the middle of nowhere. It was quiet and had a cool breeze coming off the water.

No Boom Boom music. No whistling activities directors yelling “Beach Bally Ball”. No waiters with stiff white outfits. No swim up bar. No margarita machine.

It was perfect. It probably has long since been torn down and replaced by something cheesy and American.

It was there that we fell in love. With Mexico. All that she is and all that she isn’t. Sounds similar to the deal that Keith is in for with me.

So much had taken place on this 7 day trip and little had anything to do with observing the culture, or enjoying the slow pace that Mexico can offer. It’s Cabo for crying out loud! How does one fall in love with Mexico based upon Cabo? It would be like falling in love with America having spent a few days in Disney Land.

When the ratty van took us the back to the airport, I was much more aware of my surroundings than I had been on the trip in.

Tire repair shops everywhere. Why is there such a need for that?

Grilled chicken joints, Farmicia’s and Muffler shops. It was all so jumbled up.

I was drawn into the lovely disorder of it all. It makes my life seem more organized and balanced.

I considered not getting on the flight. After all, I was legally single; I had some money that had just been freed up from the divorce. I could quit my job, send for my cat, kayak and Bronco II and live in Mexico. Plus it was my birthday the next day and what a better way to prove that you have lost you mind than to spontaneously move to Mexico?

The airport chair was fiberglass, orange and as comfortable as a church pew, but I preferred it to the First Class seat awaiting my boarding.

Alaska Airlines was getting ready to shut the door. I was getting ready to shut one as well.

If table dance night hadn’t screwed things up enough, this should do it for sure.

Through snotty sobbing and primitive sign language I was able to communicate to Keith the many fears I had concerning our future together and the overwhelming desire to stay in Mexico. I wanted him stay here with me, but how would that be possible? He had 2 little girls in Alaska. Jeez, that adds to my paralysis… I am soon to be a step Mom.

He hugged me tight and made promises about our future including Mexico. He told me that we would return soon and that if I still wanted to live in Mexico, than one day we would.

We were the last passengers to board the flight. As the plane pushed back I saw something that I had never seen before or since. The ground crew stood at attention in a salute to our pilots.

A salute is appropriate for beginnings and endings, for advancement and dismissal. I find it appropriate that during my 7 days in Mexico that I have ended a marriage and began the path towards another. I have dismissed my past and have advanced into my future.

I blow Mexico a kiss and finished the 2nd chapter in my memory book of Mexico.

(Note, although we have yet to live in Mexico, we have come very close. We purchased ocean front property near Zihuatanejo but sold it a few years later. We continue our search for somewhere we will enjoy putting down roots and putting up a palapa!)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Second time in Mexico. Part 2 of 3

He must love me. Why else would he have quietly turned and walked away just because I told him to leave me alone?

Because he is a nice man and he had made a promise.

I had never put much stock in promises. From my experience they were just a concept. Just like mañana is a concept, although it means tomorrow in Spanish, it doesn’t necessarily mean that next day. It just means, not today.

Just yesterday, I had broken a promise to one man and on this night I came close to breaking another. To my supposed to be husband.

Alcohol induced arguments laced with flammable emotions complicated by exhaustion and impromptu table dancing leads to more than a disagreement. It leads to an all out snarling fight.

Keith was about to be caught up in the Perfect Storm and there was little he could have done to prevent it. Although he tried.

Booze was the most powerful storm approaching very slowly but with gale force winds expected.

Fatigue had sat down in the area for a number of hours. Although not as fierce at Booze, it left the area weak and exposed.

Fear had been lingering just off the area for years. It was waiting for the added force of Booze and Fatigue to wreak its havoc.

The three systems came crashing together after a long day of fishing, with little to eat and too much to drink. Me, not Keith.

Petulant fit. I did not recognize myself. Was that really me dancing on a table? In a bar? I threw my shoes at Keith in the hallway of a ritzy hotel. I spat venomous words and locked him out of the room.

Than I sat. And waited. And waited.

I gathered up my stupid self and went in search of my supposed to be husband. He was on the beach, weathering the storm.

No apologies offered. I was too prideful for that. He was to kind to demand any. He must love me.

We walk silently down the echoing hallway. Two strappy sandals lie haphazardly on the marble floor, just where the lunatic owner had thrown them.

In a fluid, yet deliberate motion, Keith bends over of scoops them up. He stashes them under one arm and puts the other arm around my waste.

We promise to talk about it mañana. And we do.

Promises. They are no longer a concept for me.

(Note; I cannot believe what an idiot I was. I would like to think that I had a bad reaction to the food, but I didnt have any. A rookie mistake. Keith tried to prevent this. But I was having none of his “control measures”. That’s what started the fight. I guess he didn’t think the public table dance was a good idea. I hope to redeem myself in the 3rd and final installment of this story)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Second time around. Memories of my 2nd trip to Mexico and more. Part 1 of 3

We had decided to marry and spend our honeymoon in Mexico. The year was 1993 and Keith and I had met just 2 months prior on New Years Eve. It was a blind date.

Not sure of what we wanted in a marriage, we definitely knew what we didn’t want.

8 months would give us plenty of time to plan a trip, a wedding and get to know each other. I had read books on Mexico, not marriage. I studied the maps on Mexico, not the road to a happy marriage. I asked everyone I knew that had been to Mexico all of the questions, about Mexico, not marriage.

I tried to recall my High School Spanish. My teacher, Mrs. Josie Esau, graduate of Rice University, had little command of the Spanish language and less control over the class. She spoke Spanish with a heavy Texan accent. They can’t help it - Texans. We mostly cooked tacos and listened to Mexican music in Josie’s class.

I prepared little for the trip and even less so for a marriage. I was perfect in my oversight of the obvious. I would not allow prudent thinking stand in my way. Keith was such a nice guy. And I really needed a nice guy.

We finally arrive in San Jose del Cabo. It is our 4th airport of the day. I am in a sassy short dress and high heals. I broadcast “American Tourist” like a Vegas billboard. I am 31 years old. I had (past tense) a great body and an underdeveloped sense of self awareness. I was the original Deadliest Catch.

Pollo Loco. Hey! I can read Spanish!!! “Crazy Chicken” Keith! That sign says Crazy Chicken… I am so smart… I can rule this Nation. I can live here and speak this simple language and remain tanned indefinitely. I also noticed to smell of burning trash and the ratty condition of the van that we had just piled into with a bunch of drunken idiots going to the same resort as us.

It’s the typical ritzy resort. Swim up bar, billowing white gauze cabanas and English speaking wait staff. It was as far from being in Mexico is it could be. Except for the smell of burning trash, it always seemed to linger.

I experienced many firsts in Cabo San Lucas.

1. Ceviche- I loved it. Where had it been all my life?
2. Jet Skiing – wet and wild!!
3. Catching and releasing a huge Sail Fish.
4. Divorce

One of the details that I overlooked in my planning was the ability to legally marry Keith.

The paperwork dissolving my “practice” marriage had been filed for 11 months. The Judge went on sabbatical without assigning the case to another Judge. In July I am informed that this dissolution hearing is scheduled for the same date that Keith and I had planned to be wed. The honeymoon already paid for.

So, we didn't get to start our marriage that September in Mexico but I ended one there.

At a prearranged time I phoned the Kenai Court System to affirm that I did indeed still agree to dissolve the marriage. It was more difficult to arrange the international call than it was disarrange a marriage.

I sit on the edge of the bed with a stunning view of the shore. A warm ocean breeze blows in and leaves the floor tile as well as the drink in my hand weeping from the humidity. I am still in my wet bikini. Keith sits out on the balcony. He tries to be two places at the same time. Near me, yet not part of the proceedings. Finally the call is connected; I answer all the questions then hang up and take the hand of my supposed to be husband.

He leads me down to the swanky swim up bar and again, there is the ever present smell of burning trash. But this time it’s the smoldering garbage of my life past.

Burning trash has never smelled so sweet.

(Note; Keith and I married a few months later on New Years Eve a year to the date that we had first met. There is more to this story in Cabo that I will post in the future.We have traveled in Mexico over 30 times, long since passing up ritzy hotels and swim up bars)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Torture. This is what my first memories of Mexico were based upon. Well, torture and sea shells. I was 7 years old.

My parents, sister and I were living in Northern California at the time. They (the adults) thought that seeing the Baja 1000 would be a fun time. That race had just had its first run in October 1967.

Ensenada in 1969 was not a tourist town. I not sure if it was much of a town at all. Nevertheless, it was my first time in Mexico. We flew from Sacramento to San Diego and rented a car. It seems that we drove half the day, but it could have only been 2 hours. Maybe more as my father had probably had a few shots of tequila and had gotten us lost.

The booze improved his driving skills but did little to improve his personality or scruples.

Anyway, I have only flashes of memories. Cool Ocean breezes, a dead Sea Lion on the beach, my Mother trying to get her silk pillow case back from the non English speaking house keepers and an old gringo that was the first ex-pat that I had ever met. He was a stranger, yet my mom let me and my sister sit with him for hours (it was probably 20 minutes, see above where I thought we drove for ½ a day) while he showed us all about sea shells and how to clean the critters out. I don’t think I had ever spent that much time with a stranger before then.

The torture part comes in from my 17 year old uncle. My mothers kid brother. My parents brought my uncle on the trip to watch my sister and me while the adults went out doing adult things in Mexico and for him to experience Mexico. My uncle had different ideas of what those experiences should be. He teased me by keeping a ball away from me, had me leaping in the air to grab my toys and even went as far as putting me in those Mexican finger cuffs; behind my back. He had also gotten a bull whip at the market and a big sombrero. He chased me around with that stuff too. I know it all sounds innocent, but I was very upset at the time, and probably a bit nervous about being away from home to start with, and to have an angry uncle in charge really did scare me. My mother tells me that it could not have been so bad.

Fast forward 40 years. January 2009 found me back in Mexico again with that same uncle. All I said was “Hey, the last time we were in Mexico together was 40 years ago” and you know what he said? “Chrissy, I regret all those mean and terrible things I did and said on that trip”. So, my memory is not perfect, but my feelings were.

Of course I had long since forgiven him and it was interesting to hear his perspective on the whole thing. Come to find out, he had thought that he was brought on the trip more as a play date for my dad, not a “Manny”. A 17 year old red blooded American boy in Mexico could “experience” a lot. But his sister (my Mom) obviously had more boundaries than he had ideas. He took out is resentment on me.

We shared some excellent times and made new delightful memories in Guayabitos that January and lest you might think this was our first reunion in 40 years, it was not. We have been in each others lives and homes many, many times. It’s odd that this never came up until we were back together in Mexico.

Now the only torture I face concerning memories of Mexico is leaving her.
(Note; I got a new Daddy and he is the best ever!)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Desert to Dockside

I have been occupied with the visit from our 2 oldest Grand children and with Keith's absence while he took them back up to Juneau. I was left in charge of the house and animals. I have nothing witty to say in this blog, but I just wanted to share a few photos. This one above is a self shot of me on the salt river. It was an excellent trip. We got on the 2nd bus so there were only a few people ahead of us.

Korrianna, our 13 year old Granddaughter. She had a blast, worked on her tan and learned how the hydraulics of a river work.

Chase, our 11 year old Grandson. He was a bit reluctant to do this. Chased wanted us to all be lashed together. By then end of the trip his confidence had grown so much that he was floating on his tummy and taking on the small rapids by himself.

Keith in Juneau with the 2 youngest grandkiddos. Tyrel 5 and Tell 6 weeks old. They are standing in Fireweed.

Halibut. It is a lot of work to bring these guys up off the bottom. They are usually around 300 feet and if there is any size to them at all, it is like pulling a mattress up from the deep.

Keith with our daughters Breehia (Mom of Tyrel and Tell. And Step Mom to Korrianna and Chase) and Kally, the one with the stunning blue eyes.