Wednesday, November 25, 2009

in the air

I spend a lot of time on planes now, ever since August it's been a steady stream of back and forth and repeat. Airports fascinate me, this artificial hub of humanity where everyone is going somewhere at the mercy of others. I sit and I watch people go and go and go and I find it amazing really at how many people are out there in our world doing their own thing.

Flying itself is clearly less desirable, roped in like sheep at a forced rodeo all dressed up with places to go and no control of getting there. We all sit silently resenting the way in which we must get around while docilely submitting to the rules of the road. I've been lucky in this regard too, no big mishaps or you know, scary 30,000' sort of things yet and I keep hoping that I'll fly under the radar one more time.

I'm heading back to the jungle after a brief trip to the States, wrapping up a project and feeling the satisfaction in knowing I'll keep my feet on the ground through the holidays both, a pause in the rush and one I am deeply craving, a long time at home with nothing much to do but relish in the joy of my child and partner, since travelling as much I find myself trying to stand still. I watch them when they are busy just to see how their limbs work and what makes them smile. I hear the words of the tiniest Who and instead of screaming I Am Here I say I Am Blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

rainy days and mondays

Me and Karen C, we are driving through the rain. The one radio station here plays American 70's music all the time, an amusing juxtaposition as I slow down to avoid the big bull in the muddy road. I wonder what Karen C would make of all of this, of the kids in their often ill fitting uniforms and the ladies strolling with babies strapped to their chests maya-style.

I end up as I often do in the open air produce market, the only place in town where you can get fresh fruits and vegetables. Today I score some cauliflower which is a rare treat amidst the usual bananas and onions and occasional starfruit. But I need bread and I can't find it so Karen C and I, oh wait she's gotten off the bus and now it's me and Barry G and his brother or two and we are cruising, cruising. I hit three little markets and there's not a loaf to be seen. It's hard to describe, this way of living especially coming from a place where more is always more and there is always more of it. But shopping this way forces one to be sociable, you exchange this and that with folks you run into and the shopkeepers who are used to you by now.

I briefly contemplate making my own bread, but my schedule doesn't allow it and besides, I burn it more often than not so I hit bingo at the last stop and can't believe I'm buying white bread but I'm desperate and that makes me giggle too.

By the time I'm done it's time to get M for lunch, the afternoon break is already here. I pick her up and a neighbor kid and I eavesdrop as I often do on the closing minutes of her class. Time to say our prayers says the teacher. Shut your mouths children and I can't help but laugh, saying shut your mouths doesn't seem acceptable in any setting but somehow right before kindergarten prayers it's especially off limits but not knowing what else to do we drive home and it's still raining but now Donna S has joined our ride. We sing along, or at least I do and almost run over a chicken. Those dudes run really funny. I suppose everyone's just trying to get along.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

the ants go marching

I'm cleaning up a few nights ago when J walks over to the verandah and opens the slider. Immediately he leaps back and streams of black ants come piling in covering his feet and crawling up his legs. He slams the door and starts jumping around, expletives abound.

I run over and flip on the outside light and the porch looks as if it's alive, a black swarming mass of moving floor space. Marching ants. Holy shit.

We quickly stomp on all the ants that made it inside and brush them out of J's hair and after some looking around, it appears that the ants are not only on the porch but climbing up the house. We've heard about these things in jungle folklore before, the marching ants come in the millions sweeping through areas eating everything in their wake. Some of our neighbors think they are a good thing because they clean out all the other bugs as they pass, the black swarm comes and goes in a short amount of time.

But I can't quite embrace their calmness. What the fuck is this I say over and over, watching the blackness puddle and swoon like a funhouse mirror gone very wrong. We realize this side of the house is fairly safe but we have no idea what cracks or holes exist in places we cannot see. After a while of sitting in somewhat bizarre stupor it hits me that the right side of the house, where the little buggers are heading, has no such reinforcements. The space between the door and the floor is ample enough for ants to come in riding on each other's backs. In triple. Shit. I say as much to J and so we head over and tentatively open the door and here they come, their blackness swarming towards us. Foolishly, I grab a towel like I was taught to do in those old fire safety movies back in the 70's. I wet it and stick it along the door jam to keep the smoke out. Or in this case, ants. I do this quickly and feel triumphant until the towel seems to slowly start to move. What happens if we can't stop them? Will they slowly overtake our bodies leaving only heaving black mounds of flesh?

Danger Will Robinson. Oh, and holy shit get me out of here.

M is asleep, thankfully and blissfully unaware that we are about to be consumed. J and I go on defense, I am spraying bug spray at the door frame and we are stomping in abandon. Somehow or perhaps it was never meant to be it works and the ants slightly shift course and we see them marching their massive way across the driveway. Our dog comes out of hiding. J looks at me and says you'll have to blog about this one and I laugh. Not until I'm sure we aren't waking up covered in ants I say.

I wake up the next morning ant free and nervously eye the porch. We tell M all about it at breakfast and she's filled with dismay at missing the escapades of the night before. She's a brave one, my kid. I tell a neighbor about it who laughs and says they came through her house a few days ago. Sprinkle water on them next time she says, they don't like the water. Later I come back from taking M to school and from the market and walk out onto the porch when I see them, a marching black wall coming over the lip of the porch from the ground, a good three feet long and about a foot onto the concrete turning it black. Being a secret double agent, I grab the hose and turn it on and let out a screech and a jet spray so powerful it's like washing thick mud off the side of a house, the blackness goes flying backwards onto the grass and I'm going Apocalypse Now on the little fuckers, spraying and spraying until the porch is clean and the fortress is intact. I peer over the edge of the porch and the ground beneath is fully alive, the marching ants are still marching. Several dogs have now taken refuge on my porch and they all look at me expectantly, watch the gringa, she's crazy and I think about spraying them too but I pull myself in check.

After way too much water I finally concede that maybe I've won this round, those little bastards are 0-2 now but I know and they know that they'll win sooner or later, whether it's 2am or when we aren't home, you can't stop nature from running it's course. So I can only hope that they've moved on down the village, making their way far away from here.

In other news we are bracing ourselves for the first real storm of the season, the hurricane to the south of us will bring us rain and I reminisce about last year when the entire village was flooded and I hope that like the ants, the rain will go easy on us too.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009


As many things go here, information regarding Very Important Events is often contradictory and somewhat loose. As Halloween approached, we tried to figure out customs and whatnot so as to allow M to have some sort of holiday while navigating the fact that Things Are Just Done Differently Here. So after several inquiries we thought we had it figured it and headed out to go to a few houses and trick or treat. The first two houses were practice, expat neighbors we know who were more than happy to offer a treat. But then we ventured over to our village friends, with our gorgeous little Dorothy with her dog Toto in tow. (Note to self: no one here has seen the Wizard of Oz).

We were welcomed heartily at our first stop but also with laughing. Oh no, we don't trick or treat till tomorrow night. And Monday night. But not tonight. Today of course was Halloween. Alright then, we shake our heads. Leave it to the gringos to get it wrong. So M is rather disappointed so we figure it can't hurt to see if other folks on on this same page. We stop at a restaurant a friend of ours runs and she being anglo has some candy to share. M now is energized and wants to make more stops so we go to another village friend who reiterates that trick or treating is tomorrow and laughs as we go. As we are heading back home with a rather meager bucket of candy we stop at a ramshackle little store on the off chance one out of three might come through and besides, it's a little tienda so I am pretty sure they have candy no matter the day. There's an old woman in the back and I see her making tortillas. She sees us and smiles and walks up to the front. Que quieres? she says and M says Trick or Treat! Que? So I lift M up and so the woman can see. She smiles and laughs. Quieres dulce? She asks and I smile Por favor. So the woman grabs a couple lollipops and hands them over even though I'm pretty sure that she's also of the This Doesn't Happen Till Tomorrow ilk. The funniest part of it all is a little boy was in the store at the same time, a shilling in hand probably there on an errand from his mom. The woman hands him the lollipops too and he looks in confusion and amazement and runs out the door. I am laughing now and we thank her and walk back outside. We end up calling it a night after that, M is ridiculously understanding about all of it and I've never loved her more.

So tonight, the day after Halloween we've had some visitors and they come in massive, massive amounts. The walk through the village swinging little lanterns going door to door, no bags to hold candy or a costume to be seen but high spirited and joyful just the same. I'd like to think it has more to do with Dia De La Muerta, I've noticed the cemetery across from our house has been bustling today, paying homage to ancestors and lighting candles with candy and costumes secondary if at all.

So as with anything we roll with it and when we shut the door we look at each other and laugh because everything continues to make no sense and be exactly fine all at once.

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