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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

I’m sitting in a waiting room with Ashley who has a dentist appointment in a few minutes. Imagine yourself, with a toothache, about to lie back and open wide while someone asks you questions in a language you don’t understand. She is beside me desperately thumbing through a Spanish dictionary and cramming; ”how do you say toothache, cavity, you’re hurting me…. ouch?”

She will be fine, I’m sure. They have a laser procedure for filling cavities and we are here by recommendation. The entire process costs less than we were quoted for a consultation in the US, and we are two of America’s uninsured.

I’m going to jump back to my Boca del Cielo story while she is in there. Sunday we headed for the beach with Edwin and Jessica plus two more friends. We piled in a small car about the size of a Toyota Yaris, drove three hours across the highest mountains in Chiapas to the Pacific coast, and finally down to “La Boca Del Cielo.”

Its called “The Mouth of Heaven,” where a narrow inlet of inter-coastal water pours back into the Pacific. The narrow slit of sand that lies between is quickly eroding, and the boats pull up on the other side to palm frond huts that were originally the third row.  Men and boys stay with their boats at the mainland and negotiate with clients. Whoever you choose will take you back to where they and their family live, in and around the business.

There are cabins with concrete slabs and mattresses or hammocks that hang freely in open canopies. The cabin walls are made of the mangrove branches that swarm the mainland. You can sleep where you like, and the hosts will sleep wherever you don’t.  Just beyond the huts are the bathrooms that don’t flush and a concrete well of water with a shower bucket. There is a continual fire cooking the menu options of either fresh fish or shrimp, and a table with a machete if you want to whack a coconut.  Past that is the beach.

After a swim, dinner and a sunset we found someone to take us back to the mainland to get additional groceries. We ride back in the dark and tell bizarre Mexican ghost stories and superstitions as Jessica translates them to Ashley and I.  We sit inland, under the canopy which half stands in the water.  Kids smack the water’s surface beside us with paddles to scare fish into their outcast nets.

Ashley and I opted to romantically share the hammock but spent the night with difficulty like two crickets in a spider web.  They warned us that if you sleep by water and don’t attach yourself to the ground you avail yourself to menacing spirits that will torture you.  We moved to the beach at dawn but I couldn’t sleep because wild dogs seemed to want to mark us.  When everyone got up we settled the bill which was 735 pesos.  Maybe not the most luxurious, but certainly one the most exotic and authentic experiences of my life- at about $8 per person.

Before we left, we were sold on a boat tour of the island by an old man who drives us around cussing and dropping his “s”s so that no one understands him. Once we have to get out and push the boat from the sand and later he rammed the boat into mangrove branches saying something like, “well, here it is.”  The highlight was his selling point of a “sea turtle hatchery reserve.”  He took us to a picnic table with no turtles because we were out of season.  Still, the place is so beautiful that he can’t mess up the tour.  I admire his audacity even though I consider him to be a crook.

Back at the parked car we are charged for three days instead of two because a day here is every eight hours.  I can’t believe we lose the argument over this, with a 17 year old boy, but it’s 30 pesos and he can ask for it because no one is going to fight over it.  Edwin says on the way back that we have to take the old highway which will add another hour to the trip.  There are two reasons: one, because we must see the poor parts of Mexico, and two because we don’t have any money for the tolls.  Mexican people travel with a loose agenda and we stop to look off deadly cliffs, take pictures, get coffee, eat edible flowers, and buy sweet cornbread from indigenous roadside vendors.

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