Unkind people are always asking me why I am not yet bilingual, and it hurts. My French teacher at boarding school when I was a boy would sigh and call me an amiable half-wit after listening to my translation of a few lines of Victor Hugo. It has been clear from the start that English and only English would be my lingua franca in this life.
Category: Under the Palapa (Page 1 of 7)
I have always thought of myself as a normal type of person, not particularly good at much, but not a bad fellow, just middle of the road. The trouble is when you start to write this and that, you become a bit of a target in this very small town.
To go back a ways, when my wife Michelle headed to Calgary for the birth of our grandchild, her short visit turned into seven weeks, meaning I was dragooned into covering for her at the SPCA booth in the market every Saturday morning. I cleaned my uniform (a T-shirt) and bravely set out for the centre of the city with some trepidation, I might add, to help erect the little tent that houses the SPCA volunteers who raise funds for the dogs and cats at the “no-kill” sanctuary.
Everyone was kind as I tripped my way through the initial few weeks, often getting my facts wrong, such as the number of dogs available for adoption and how many of them people could take on a plane. By the fourth weekend I was enjoying myself enormously, with the good feeling of being part of a wonderful team doing something worthwhile.
Two weeks ago I had my 70th birthday, which was lovely, if these things can be counted as lovely, since these celebrations heave us another step closer to the darkness.
Casey, a delicious female friend, said: “You will love your 70s, Chris,” which somehow helped. Might as well enjoy it, I mean there is not much I can do about it at this stage, is there? I still feel fairly good although I cannot squat anymore – it is just a lean-down kind of thing now.
I still go for runs along the malecon, but if I am fair, it is more like a quick shuffle than an actual run. I tell my wife it is so that I can see what is going on around me rather than a blur, as in the past. She just shakes her head sadly.
Just before my birthday, I had what I thought was a great idea: I would sit down and make a list of all those I might have upset over the last 70 years. I would prove to them that I have matured and ask for their forgiveness. It took longer than I thought, but luckily after a bit of research I found a good number had died, so that cut the list back a bit.
For some reason, none of the women took my calls and most of the guys just said “Mmmmmm.” One old fellow said he did not remember me doing anything wrong to him, so I reminded him, upon which he called me “a horrible bastard” and hung up. But the point of the exercise was that I would feel better and I did. That dreadful term “closure.”
One of my birthday presents was a pair of binoculars. I am not sure why the term should be a pair as you only get one, don’t you? The problem with English, eh? Anyway this gift has opened up a whole new world from our perch in the sky above El Centro, some of it surprising. For instance before the binoculars I could just make out in the distance a pretty mother breast feeding her child. I felt I was seeing the very essence of Mexican life. With some magnification my beautiful scene became a middle aged Mexican lady entertaining a small bald man on her lap. Shocked, I demurely looked elsewhere.
However most of the time I see splendid things with my new binoculars, such as ships arriving in the bay and fishing boats returning with their catches. There is also an enormous yacht in our bay so I drip with envy as I watch the on-board activity. It is I guess, the idle lower middle class looking at the idle rich. The life of our small city by the sea comes into focus every day and I am grateful for the gift.
On a sadder note, I am becoming more and more concerned with the dogs of our neighbourhood lately. There seems to be an explosion of numbers, as every balcony and rooftop has a sad story to tell of chained or restricted dogs left outside with no shade, sitting in their own waste. Day after day I watch these wailing animals bark away their existence without a sign of kindness from their so-called owners. It breaks my heart. I know many readers will say that if I don’t like it I should go home because this is Mexico. That was the position we used to take, but now that we have bought here and pay taxes we feel we are a part of this neighbourhood.
When I ask the locals why they do not complain about this open cruelty, they simply shrug and say they could never criticize a neighbour, however much they agree with us, because he/she would lose face.
I have called authorities but nothing much happens. Once someone showed up and took a few pictures of the outside of the house but nothing more. I sometimes wish we did not have such a wonderful view of the city and now recently enhanced by my birthday gift, as we are witness to much more than just the beauty of the glorious Pacific. We love it, of course, but now with a local perspective.
Copyright Christopher Dalton 2016
Last week I told you about my attempts to find a way to earn a living in P.V. Here are more jobs I cannot do.
For instance those two guys who spray wet sand on themselves, then wait for it to dry before sitting in the sun at a table with a chess board, to the delight of tourists. People pay money to sit beside them and have their pictures taken.