Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Writer's Dream

Note the candle in the Coke bottle.
                                   A Writer's Dream

Have you ever dreamed of selling everything and moving abroad to a simple village life?  Well, I did it.

My village was a sandy little piece of land facing the Caribbean,  surrounded by swamp and lost in time.  Families strolled around the square of a evening, leading children by the hand.  The one teller who ran the little bank came and went without explanation.  At night a Mayan man rode slowly through the streets on his three-wheeled cycle, holding a tray of pastries, and stopped at the huts and houses, clapping to attract customers. Of course he was known as 'the clap-clap man.'
I soon found an abandoned house and decided to move in.  But it had many other tenants as well.  Geckos darted around the walls and occasionally screamed like an old witch.  There was also a feral cat that would sneak in while I was shoveling sand of hurricanes past, and bound up a wall to snatch one of the lizards in her teeth and run out the door.  My feline friend would also tear open plastic bags and eat my bread!

Within a couple of days of moving in, a strange little Mayan visited me.  He was old and hunched over.  A tattered cap shaded his taunt face.  He just walked right in while I was working and cleared his throat.  When I turned he hissed out my family name, struggling with the difficult pronunciation.  I nodded and he handed me a letter.  I took it and was examining it when he said:  "Tip."

Once I got all the sand and land crabs shoveled out, and the deposits construction workers had left, I bought a couple of gallons of muriatic acid and flooded the concrete.  Then I reattached the front door and bought a padlock, nailed mosquito netting over the window openings.  With drift wood I made a little writing table. With a kerosine lamp hissing and candles glowing around me, geckos laughing now and then, I could type away into the night, mosquito coils burning close to my exposed ankles.  But I soon found that the insect population came alive when the sun set.

The first time I saw one of the black scorpions climbing up the wall I knew I needed to be alert in the house.  I always tapped my sandals on the floor before I put them on.  Whenever I walked in the dark, I lit my way with candle.  My introduction to the huge spiders came one night when I was standing at the toilet urinating, holding a large candle in a glass.  Suddenly the wall beside me moved and I was horrified to see one of the huge brown spiders right beside me and watching me pee.  Without thinking I threw the contents of the glass on the spider.  It fell and the light went out.  I shouted and jumped and peed on my feet, and ran to my hammock. 

The next day I walked into town and bought a flashlight.  When I came back to the house, I opened the front door and turned to hang the lock on the door, and suddenly stopped.  There waiting for me was my wax-covered spider friend.  This time it didn't end well for the spider.

Tomorrow I'll write about one of the greatest experiences of my life:  snorkeling in the Caribbean, being so poor that I couldn't buy new shoes, but eating lobster and fresh grouper every day.