Archive for October, 2011
It was definitely an interesting week here on Isla. Of course, I suspect this is the kind of place where every week has some sort of strange goings-on. Not to hack an over-used, crystal-rubber term… but a convergence zone where the odd and sublime are every day occurences.
In our case, the oddity took the form of a power outage.
Diane and I were sitting in the apartment, doing some of the things that make it possible to hang out in this lovely tropical paradise (aka work), when the lights – and even worse, the air conditioner – blinked out.
I like to think of Mexico as this quaint 3rd world country where things like consistent electrical power can’t be taken for granted. We laughed and waited, thinking that at some point, the guy who tripped over the proverbial power cord would realize his mistake and plug the damn thing back in. No joy. The heat built literally and emotionally as we sat watching our computers suck down the last bits of electrons that kept us tied to the ‘real world’. One-by-one, our electrical connections to the outside world failed.
It was a sobering thought to think of how connected we are these days – even on Isla. At first, I was a little upset that I had woven my life into so many electrical-dependent addictions. Then it dawned on me that it was entirely BECAUSE of these little electrical connections that we were allowed to detach and come down here for extended periods of time. I stopped grumbling – at least about that.
We decided to walk next door to the ‘Tienda’ to see how long these outages usually took. Don Schepe (aka, the man of the Tienda) looked puzzled when he saw us marveling over the fact that his drink coolers were on. As it became apparent to us that our little 3rd world power outage was limited to our house, he came next door to help us track down the source of the outage. He showed us where the power came in, the breakers on the outside and asked me if I had flipped the ones on the inside. As he and I were trying to determine the root cause of the problem, the lady from down the street walked by, made the slicing-at-the-neck-you’re-dead motion and said something to the Don.
There are times when reality comes back at you and you realize that your prejudices and pre-conceived ideas are just wrong. This was one of those moments. Turns out, our property manager had not paid the power bill.
Believe it or not, the tropics got a little hotter at that very moment.
As I walked back into our steamy apartment, I watched my laptop’s power supply dwindle to nothing. My cell phone also chose that very moment to make it death noise and blink my life out of the 21st century.
The property manager went down to the CFE – the national power company – and paid the bill. They promised him that the power would be returned within 2 hours. They must have written it on a slip of paper and forgotten to write the 4 after the 2.
After a steamy, fanless, air condition-less, laptop-less evening, we chose to decamp to the Hotel Belmar in centro. I am sure that the CFE wondered why they suffered a huge draw at the moment we checked in. We plugged our world, our lives, back in. Slowly we came back into the 21st century. Slowly the air conditioning took a little edge of the tropical heat – inside and out.
Wait for it.. Wait for it..
This is when the magic happens. Had it not been for our property manager forgetting to pay the power bill… Had it not been for our breakfast with a nice woman from Canada we met the morning before… Had we not HAD to have connectivity for a conference call I had to take… Had we not… fill in the blanks with all of the coincidences that had to have happened to get us walking down Hidalgo Street at that very moment….We would not have been walking toward a man who looked like… John Crowe. I turned to Diane and said the words, “Funny, that guy looks just.. like… John…” which was precisely the moment when John Crowe smiled and said hello.
Being from a little town in the middle of the high desert of Arizona, along the tumuluous border, out on the edge of reality, you learn to expect that Bisbee will find you.. no matter where you are. Right there on Hidalgo Street, I realized that I could never escape Bisbee. Bisbee will find you.
We sat and had lunch with our friend from Arizona. The amazing nature of our coincidental meeting still boucing around in my head. Half-way to the equator, on a little island in the tropics, we met a guy who lives down the street from us back home.
I love this world. Truth is way stranger than ficton.
Diane and I rented a golf cart today to get our bearings on the island. Somehow, 4.3 miles seems a lot bigger when you are actually traveling it in a golf cart (though I venture to say I could ride the island, from stem to stern, on a bicycle in about 30 – 45 minutes).
We started off the day meeting a lady from Vancouver, whom we had met yesterday at our first Isla bar experience, for breakfast. She had been traveling the Yucatan, searching for pyramids – and found quite a few in the last two weeks (not that they had not been discovered before.. at least not by her). She spun stories of her travels, as we enjoyed chiliqulies and fruit. Good stuff.
Jo, our Canadian friend, had rented a golf cart previously and walked us to the place where she rented it. Enter the one thing I am not loving about Isla life – the con. I knew she had rented her cart for $450 pesos (about $32 USD), but the guy wanted to charge me $60 USD. I balked and he immediately came to $55 – still way more than I knew we could get it for.
At this point, let me clarify two points: I know that it is typical to barter in some parts of Mexico and I also know that amounts of money that make little difference to me can make worlds of difference to most people in Mexico… just not this guy. There is an undercurrent of scamming tourists that really rubs me the wrong way. In Mazatlan, we had cabbies (Pulmonia drivers) take us across Mazatlan for $100 pesos (I tipped him another $100 pesos for the enjoyable ride) and in San Miguel de Allende, you can get a cab ride across town (or down the street) for $30 pesos. I was never charged more than that ANYWHERE in SMdA. I always matched the fare with a 100% tip. Again, I realze that it is not a big dent for me, and it means the world to some. That being said, I know that I could rent the cart for essentially half the price the guy asked… I also know he is located across from the ferry landing and would get that amount time and time again today. I opted for a place down the street.. where I got our cart – at a no haggle price – for $550 pesos (about $39 USD).
Okay enough bitching about the scamming of tourists… except for the exceptional cab driver last night who charged us double what every other cabbie had charged us for a trip from Centro to the Casa. Argh!
Our cart gave us the ability to cover the entire island in a reasonable amount of time, so we could see the ‘in’s and out’s” of the places that Diane had read about prior to our trip to the island. We saw what I call the “Three Islas”: 1. Posh Isla, where white-gloved attendents see to your need in a very European style. 2. The Middle Class White Isla (where we live) which is full of beer, seafood and trinket shops and 3. The Mexican Isla where those that work in the other two worlds live. The nice part about Casa Laguna is that is a very Middle Class Isla dwelling on the edge of Mexican Isla.
More on this later.. let’s just cut to the Iguanas!