There’s something out there. It’s white.
There! Look. A fish.
We both stared out toward the horizon from our chairs facing the ocean as we drank our morning coffee, listening to the roar of the waves. A dolphin! Todd said, and picked up his binoculars.
I looked. I see it! I said. There’s two. Three! Look at them all…they aren’t fish. They’re pelicans. Four, five. Six. I counted.
Wow, they’re really going to town. He said. Where’d they go? He laughed. Those pelicans can really hold their breath.
He was right. They were fish. Shut up. I said and laughed too.
The waves were rolling in, one after another–seven, eight-foot spirals–crashing into explosions of foam. Last night, we carried chairs down to the water before the sun set and sat taking in all the beauty—Todd calmly clearing his head, and me, filling mine with thoughts, words and sentences to try and capture it. I didn’t want to forget the moment, or this trip to Mexico.
Let me know if I’m bothering you, he said.
No. I answered, greedy to record my thoughts at that moment, and continued writing, creating a distance between us. I watched him as he looked out over the water, and closed my notebook. The beauty of the sky, the setting sun, the changing patterns of light across the magnificent blue body of water, and the foam of the crashing waves, had all made their impression on him. We take in Beauty and are changed by it. Then she waits for us to give her back. Todd’s generosity was an example of that. I would return it, preparing dinner.
I could watch the waves as I cooked in our small, open-aired kitchen with its little four burner gas stove. It reminded me of how Mom would cook dinner for Dad on his boat after a long day of sailing together. She could make a gourmet meal on that little stove, he said, and serve the others in their slip. It was a step up from the metal box gas burner she had used for a decade or two, when camping. Maybe I’m connecting to my mother when I cook. Or maybe I just love to cook. Maybe both. My thoughts are serenaded by the sea. I do know cooking for me is about much more than the food. I find flavors fascinating, blending them, transforming them into something original, and offering it as a gift to those I love. That’s it. Cooking is an offering?
We couldn’t find any sea salt at the store so we’ve been unsalted all week. I love salt. The quantity I consume in a day can make or break me the next. Water retention makes me slow in both thought and movement. I haven’t missed it at all this week. I taste the herbs. I taste the food. I taste the salt in the air. I’ve given thought to how much more I could simplify in my life when we return home. Here, there is one small frying pan, one pot with a lid, and one sauce pan we boil our water in to make coffee in the morning. Two coffee cups, two wine cups, two water glasses, two bowls, two plates. One big clay bowl I’ve put the fruit and avocados in, one square colored container for the bread and bakery. One sharp knife. And I’ve created meals just fine.
Todd calls our little kitchen with its bar and two stools, Chez Debbie. We eat there at night by candlelight overlooking the water, to the sound of crashing waves. Put your computer away, he said as we sat down to eat.
But I’m having technical difficulties, I don’t want to lose my post. And I put up with your ten remotes on the kitchen table at home. Leave me alone.
Two, he said. Two remotes.
My sharp words were in dissonance to the sounds around us, and I closed my computer then. I resisted my tendency to sulk when I don’t get my way. I saved the moment by changing the subject. Let. Go. The yoga instructor had said in the class I attended by the water. Breathe in, Let. Breathe out, Go. One class was enough. I’m sore and I don’t want a schedule to follow, but her mantra will serve me well long beyond our time here. I had returned from class and found Todd searching for his driver’s license and credit card. How do you let go of that? I wanted to ask her.
I looked everywhere, he said, as he lifted the pillows up off the couch. I had them in my pocket on our hike this morning. They must have fallen out, but I still have the pesos.
Maybe when you took our selfie?
Right. I’ll go look for them. I know the spot. He was already putting on his shoes.
I thought, Let go, but wanted to say, Oh no, not again! We both seem to lose things a lot lately. Instead I said, I’ll come with you.
The back side of the shoreline is the opposite of the front with its sun-kissed, crashing waves and seagull soaring beauty. The back side is dry with golden dirt, lined with shanties and merchants selling local goods. Dogs take their time moving from oncoming vehicles, men sit with head coverings, hot from their work in the heat. Within minutes on the back roads you need windshield wipers.
Making our way up copious amounts of sliding gravel, the tires on our little two-wheel Nissan rental spun and sputtered. Todd shifted into park and gave the hand brake a good yank, right in the middle of the steep incline on the narrow road. Incessant barking presented itself in two thin, mangy, hungry looking dogs. They ran up, protecting their turf. You stay in the car, Todd said.
Who’s going to protect you? I thought but didn’t argue. Dad always said to stand your ground with a dog. Show no fear, and command it to, Stay! It will back down if you hold your ground fearlessly. Todd knows this and the dogs kept their distance. Hi puppies, I said opening my door. How are you? That’s right, it’s okay. Good puppies. They did look hungry, and one had gnawed her fur raw in spots, but soon both tails were wagging. Good puppies, I said again, and held out my hand as I slipped, carefully, out of the car. I was barely up the hill when Todd was already on his way back down.
No luck. We said goodbye to the pups and coasted backwards down the road we had made a brave attempt to drive up.
Later, getting ready for dinner, Todd looked down at the book on his night stand, picked it up and paged through it. I remember! Ah! I was going to put my license and credit card in the book when we went out! But I thought that would be the first place someone would look if they were looking for money. Here they are! He was standing in front of the kitchen shelf with the plates in his hands. Oh-ho!
We had been told by the villa owners, Mike and Debbie, to keep our valuables locked in the safe box. Of course the situation didn’t seem too serious when we discovered the box was wooden. When I told this little story to Mike, he laughed, and told me he once lost a watch for two years because Debbie had put it somewhere safe. To be honest, he said, in 17 years we’ve never had any trouble here. Once someone lost a pair of shoes, another time someone lost an IPod—from the beach—but they both mysteriously reappeared. Kids sometimes take something like that, but their parents make them bring it back.
So, it’s Tuesday morning in Troncones, Mexico—four days into our stay. We’ve decided not to do our morning “death march,” as Todd calls it, along the beach, hiking and climbing rocks. We’ve traveled it far to the right and to the left–twice to the right. Our feet hurt and it felt good to sit. Honey, Todd said, and I looked up. Your friend is here. A stray dog had followed us on our stroll along the water the night before. Dogs run free here. Mike and Debbie helped set up a veterinary service when they arrived to help spay and neuter, and care for them. “My friend,” Mike told me, is taken care of by Umberto–who oversees their property–and the surfers down the way. This morning, there she sat, staring up at me. Hi puppy! I yelled and ran down to greet her.
I wish I had a camera, Mike said walking up behind Puppy and me watching the water together. She’s had all her shots and papers, if you want to take her home with you. You’ll have to buy a crate though. Her name is Kayla.
But, she’s in paradise here, running on the beach, chasing the horses. I couldn’t take her away from this.
She’s happy, Mike agreed.
Add free, I added.
The waves are bigger today than I’ve seen. As they roll and crash they look like big drifts of snow—I think of home. I felt a little homesick then, even though I’d heard a foot of snow had fallen. I love the drifts that divide the sand from the ice on Lake Michigan. The beauty of the sunrises and sunsets take my breath away there too. Home, as they say, is where you hang your hat. Mine sits over the stool at the bar at the moment, and home, will always be where my heart is.