Parties in Kino

It was one of those Kino things.
The police Secretario, head of the western part of the state of Sonora, lives here at Islandia. Word came to me one day that I was invited to a party that night: Señor Secretario and his wife were celebrating forty years of marriage with shrimp and crab cakes, and Islandia was invited.
I tried in vain to find an anniversary card for them and ended up going to the event empty handed, but at least I was fashionably (and appropriately, in Mexico) late. The party was just beginning.
Grilled shrimp and grilled crab cakes. Barbacoa. Potatoes. A salad of papaya and jicama. Toasted bread, the Mexican kind, made of white flour and too much sugar. And Indio beer.
Just as we all dived into our food, Xavier arrived: musica romantica! He began with a standard love song, serenading la señora with a song that had a refrain about still being in love with my beautiful wife after all these years.
He strolled the area, strumming his guitar and singing of love, love love. There was even a song I’d heard before, about love, but set to the refrain of “Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home.” Great singing, but the party in the street provided some competition, with its oompa beat and accordion riffs.
Soon the honored couple was out on the dance floor (the grass). She snuggled close to him for a slow dance, her cell phone pressed to one ear. They were quickly joined by the French couple that lives in the park. Eventually almost everyone was dancing to a Mexican vision of “Hang on Sloopy” and more.
The Frenchman, probably about seventy, treated the crowd to some serious ass shaking and even a brief pole dance. Why is it a ma that age can pull this off but a woman of the same age can’t?
In the midst of all this, the cake arrived. “Felicidades!” it announced. Delicious, the frosting made with real cream, and the whole thing topped with strawberries.
I stayed a bit longer and then left with hugs and air kisses around. I was reminded by the Secretario that his house is my house, and he wished me safe travels tomorrow (I was headed north), assuring me he awaited my return in a few weeks.
This is the Mexico I love. Friendly, polite, generous. If I come here often enough and become known through the park, I will throw a party of my own. In my nine nights here, this was the third party I’ve been invited to. The first was hosted by a couple who threw a batch of flounder and shrimp on the grill. The second was held by the French couple who made pizzas from scratch and baked them in their wonderful little outdoor horno, or wood-fired oven. And then, the anniversary party.
If I stay here, I fear I’ll gain twenty pounds.

A Typical Kino Day

Here’s my typical Kino day.
Up at six to make my decaf coffee and get ready for a walk. At six-thirty, walk through town with a friend or two. Stop at La Ramada for coffee (in my case, chamomile tea – te de manzanilla). Depending on who comes in, the stop lasts from twenty to maybe thirty minutes.
Continue walking and pop into a little market to buy whatever I am lacking: limes (limones), potatoes (papas), or onion (cebolla). Finish the walk back to Islandia.
Now it’s time to have that second cup of wowie-zowie decaf and make some breakfast. Typically, that’s a toasted corn tortilla topped with beans, cheese, salsa, and avocado. Two of those guys!
Sweep the floor, wash the dishes, and settle down to a little Sudoku. Then it’s time to pull my chair into the shade of a palapa and spend some time with email and Facebook. Ay!!! Then it’s time for a break. I read or do something else relaxing.
Soon, I change into cooler clothes and walk the few blocks to the water place to get a gallon of water. On the way, though, I have to stop and kibitz with a group clustered in the shade, watching the day’s entertainment: a big truck is attempting to tow a HUGE trailer out of a tight spot. Several people are offering advice while the rest of us, the smart ones, merely watch, shake our heads, and stay out of the way.
Get the water, then head back. Stop in the office to see Marta, but she’s not there. The office is wide open, though, so I go in and browse the book shelves, nabbing a few mysteries to read later on.
Head back to the trailer. I see that the monster trailer has finally been jockeyed out of its space and is ready to move. Chairs, a barbecue grill, and a washing machine are piled into the back of a truck. I kindly offer to let them put the washer in my bodega. You know. Me trying to help. It would lighten their load. No go. Oh, well.
To the trailer. Drink some water. Time for a break!
After a bit, I head out to the patio in a vain attempt to draw a flower. I have found any number of things I cannot seem to draw. Back inside.
Out the door awhile later to take a photo of the waves, then it’s time to sit in the shade and read. Soon it’s too hot, so book and I move inside.
Car rumbles up. Company!! It’s the guy who is going to build the metal roof over the trailer, a little roof to shade it and keep it dry when it rains once a year. We talk, we measure, we take notes. He is going to do all he work for an absurdly small price, but there’s a catch: I have to get to Hermosillo, or at least Calle Doce and pick up the materials. AARGH! I will do it.
Oh, after all that thinking and planning, it’s time for a break.
Read, Sudoku, Scrabble. Then it’s time to make supper. Today I sautéed onion, garlic, chiles, tomato and hot salsa, then tossed in some shrimp. WOW!
Clean the kitchen, sweep the floor, time for a break.
Read, Sudoku, Scrabble. Out the door for some more wave photos. Then it’s time for evening cocktails with friends.
Evening cocktails come in several forms. Often, people gather in the patio area by someone’s trailer. We bring our own beer or wine or whatever, and often take snacks to share. Sometimes, someone has gone fishing and returned for enough fish for all, so a grill is fired up and we all get as much fresh fish as we can eat.
But for me, the best evening consists of tossing some beer into a cooler and heading out to the estuary. We park our chairs in the sand and sip cerveza while the sun slips behind a distant mountain island.

It is a hard life in Kino. Yesterday I had to interrupt a break to ride into Kino Nuevo with a friend. We visited another friend, saw his adorable little house and yard, then sat at Jorge’s drinking michiladas and watching for the ever elusive dolphins.
Yeah, it’s a hard life.

Fall is here!

Fall is here. Finally. She meandered in like a gooseneck stream, cutting back the other direction a few times.
Summer was long. Heat started early and stayed late. I checked my electric bill, and we were averaged four degrees warmer this September compared to last year. The rains started late, but they’ve stayed longer than usual. Our monsoons are usually gone by mid-September, but we’ve had spot storms here recently and more are due this week. This is not typical weather. Thankfully this is a fluke, because of course, of course! There is no such thing as climate change.
But finally, the heat is gone. Some hot may gooseneck back a bit, but comfortable is here, and cool is on the horizon.
Sunday’s rain was a shocker. We’d had two very brief sprinkles, and I thought that was all we’d get. Hopped into the shower to begin getting ready for a four-string concert I’d planned to see. Right when my hair was full of shampoo, a monstrous storm broke. Rain poured, lightning flashed, and thunder roared. Chloe the dog was whining and scratching on the bathroom door, terrified by it all.
I hurried my shower along, not wanting to linger in water during the storm. Suddenly the sound of the storm changed. I looked out the window to see hail bouncing off my car. That’s when I remembered the car windows were down.
The storm was letting up by the time I got out of the shower and had dried. We’d gotten .62” in under fifteen minutes.
My car was thoroughly soaked. No trip to town for the concert for me! I supposed I could have covered the seat with plastic bags and gone on, but I decided not to. I felt bad, but soon I felt worse. Sure enough, the hail had chipped the paint job on my car. Nothing major, but on the hood are maybe seven or eight tiny chips. They barely show, but they’ll rust for sure. I can’t see the roof, but I’ll bet there are another dozen or so there. With my $500 deductible, my guess is I’ll be stuck with the repair.
But, at least fall is here. Days are glorious, in the low 80s, with the next few days expected to be in the 70s. Nights are dipping into the upper 50s – perfect for leaving windows open and snuggling under a blanket.
Roadside grasses have gone the color of straw, their tasseled heads dancing in the wind. The ocotillo are pale green and yellow. Because of the late rains and lingering heat, they’ve held their leaves and some have even flowered a second time.
Mesquite beans have gone dry and have been gathered for grinding. Soon the giant cottonwoods along the San Pedro will change, and that stripe of shimmering gold will be visible from the foothills of the Mules.
I hope fall stretches on and on. Right through February would be fine with me.

Best Laid Plans

I had been warned. If ever there was a time for plans to go awry, this was it.
My plans were simple. I’d leave Tucson around 6:30, heading north, and take the road to bypass Phoenix. Cut over to Wickenburg, have a picnic in the park. North to I-40, zip a bit west past Kingman, then take the road to Vegas. I was off to have a visit with my 96-year-old godmother, and as a bonus would be able to see my oldest niece.
But awry came into the plans, all the while reminding me that I was not really the one in charge of my life.
I actually got out of Tucson at 6:30, but I missed the bypass and had the thrill of driving through Phoenix. Luckily it was early on a Sunday, or I might still be stuck in traffic.
Picnic in the park in Wickenburg? New highway interchanges had been added, and the park was lost on the other side. And I wasn’t hungry yet. So I amended the plan – a picnic in Wikieup, on the reservation. 
I drove through the Joshua trees and got to Wikieup, and there was no shade to be found. High noon casts few shadows. Besides, it was over 100. No picnic for me. Restaurant, here I come.
I bypassed the Wikieup Trading Post, opting for the only other restaurant in town, Luchita’s, which billboards promised would offer a wonderful meal.
Stepping inside, I saw Navajo rugs. And Hopi jewelry. And pottery from Mata Ortiz, in Mexico. What??? What reservation was this? My blonde waitress soon confirmed that Wikieup is not, in fact, on any reservation, nor even very close to one. 
For years, based on its name and the Trading Post, I’d figured Wikieup was the “big town” on some reservation. So much for figuring. Looks like “awry” has a way with all manner of things.
Since I wasn’t on the Rez, there was no Indian fry bread. But lunch was good. Then I braved the heat and wandered the garden. Mexican sunflowers and cosmos were sprinkled under mesquite, palms, and palo verde. And there was a huge free-formed pond, at least sixty feet across at its broadest point. I walked up the hill to the pond to sit on its side and gaze at the lilly pads, and right before I got there I saw this wave ripple across the pond, heading toward me. What??!?
It was a small herd of koi. A covey of koi? In any event, about twenty koi, and they clung to the edge of the pond, mouths agape. Begging. They left, frustrated, when I ignored them.
Back on the highway, then to I-40, where I drove less than two miles before traffic ground to a halt. Hundreds of cars baked in the 100+ degree sun, inching, inching ever so slowly west. The traffic finally cleared up, and right past Kingman I cut north on the last leg to Vegas.
Awry struck again! Within a few miles I was confronted with a huge flashing sign: overturned semi ahead – highway closed in 18 miles.
West to Laughlin, and finally, north to Vegas. The seven hour drive had turned into over ten hours. I arrived exhausted, but so glad to see my godmother. I settled in a bit and we decided to sit and have a glass of wine. Of course when I opened the wine, the cork broke . . . .