Too Hot to Bark
The dogs of Pedregoso are even too hot to bark. Their larynxes are stuffed with sweat and they can only utter a tiny yip. The smartest dog I’ve seen this month is surfer dog. Three times a week he hits the Malecon and literally paw surfs. He swims out (I’m saying he, but it could be a she) the same distance each time, waits for the wave, turns around then rides it until he reaches the beach. He does this for at least an hour. All with the same degree of precision and routine. He knows not to venture too far. Surfer dog thoughtfully times his swim with our evening glass of wine. He never wipes out. His owner must have taught him this because why wouldn’t all the strays of Mazatlan be surfing and cooling off? It’s August and the humidity is so high I wish for a total eclipse of the sun at 4 p.m. as we stagger to yoga. Oddly enough, this year, we can get through the class without overheating. The fans and breeze keep it all bearable. Just. We climb home knowing we are about to enter our temperature controlled apartment; last year we did not have that relief and we both wondered how we survived. We know that answer; badly. We long for cloudy, rainy days and Mazatlan is averaging about four a week; either at night or during the day. It keeps the streets clean, the rain cools the air (for about an hour) and the hills of Mazatlan turn from a dingy grey to a lush green, dotted with pink coral vine.
We check on our condo. Or at least Soren eyeballs the progress. I don’t want to know what isn’t happening. I still can’t quite believe we will have the keys on October 1st. Many, many people laugh at me when I tell them our move date. Why do they feel the need to remind me I am in Mexico? Our rent at Pepe’s Pedregoso Palace is paid until Oct. 15. Even the fisherman asks if we wish to extend the rental until Oct. 31. I want to scream, “No, I’m tired of your shoddy apartment with stained tiles, holes in the ceiling, chunks of clotted plaster on the uneven walls, unpainted ceilings, smelly drains, large dark ugly furniture and a kitchen counter the size of a bread board.” But I politely smile at Pepe and respond, “No thanks. I trust our Canadian owners, and we will be moving as planned.” Will we? We had dinner last week with Gerard, G1, and stepson Gerald, G2, and they assured us all would be final on October 1st. If the Gs say that 13 units will be done, then I believe them. I have to. I can’t stand the fisherman’s place any longer. While the Pedregoso view is excellent I want my own home. And my own furniture. It took us eight months to find the right carpenter to bring our vision to life. Our Pacific Perch is only 730 square feet; much like the size of an RV, and we have designed furniture that will be light, and modular, with many drawers. It was planned in our heads; we just needed to find someone to draw and execute our carefully thought out ideas. Carpenters are on every corner in Mazatlan. Like dentists. However, they all churn out the same pieces; dark (because that represents more money), big and all straight lines. They could not understand why we wanted light wood with curves. It had nothing to do with our lack of Spanish; they had never seen it, so they could not produce it.
One day at our small English library in Centro, I pick up a brochure called “Victoria Furniture — custom solutions in wood.” I telephone the owner, Geoff Simons, and we had a meeting. He took our ideas, and our drawings, and came back one week later with drawings all to scale, wood samples and the total price. I wanted to weep with joy, give him a big hug, but instead I thought a cold beer would be more appropriate. Geoff is from the UK, spent many years in Canada and has run Victoria Furniture for 15 years in Mazatlan. We spoke the same language. Design, not English. I began to breathe regularly, my shoulders relaxed and I knew for sure, for sure, our condo would be everything and more. Geoff is making, all in an oyster colored wood, three barstools, an “entertainment centre,” two work stations, my vanity, our queen- size bed with drawers, a bathroom cabinet, towel racks, modular ottomans on wheels, and an outside dining table that expands to hold six people. We opted not to have an inside dining table; he built us a small folding table that we can tuck away and pull out when the weather does not cooperate. We visited his premises and were ecstatic about the quality of the workmanship. Geoff’s partner is an LA Mexican who manages the shop and even he proudly waved his hand over the curves and said, “This is the first time I’ve ever made curves.” Bingo; it took a Canadian to explain that there could be curves in wood. Something to do with wasting wood.
Last April we took a long pulmonia ride deep into Marina land and discovered “Simply Patio.” They had stunning teak chairs, with white mesh seats that were not only comfortable but stackable. Mazatlan does experience some fierce summer storms and we have to be able to bring our outdoor furniture in. Many people make the mistake of buying heavy iron chairs and tables, which is a recipe for disaster; too heavy to lift inside, and just right to ram through a glass door. As always, it took forever to reach the boss of Simply Patio — turned out Ivan lives around the corner from us on Pedregoso and his English was excellent. We bought two chairs, and they were perfect. Weeks later we bought two more because you never know in Mexico if a store will be in business the next day. Or the supplier. The rule here is if you see it, buy it now. While we were working with Geoff all summer on our indoor furniture it was time to revisit our outdoor furniture. I called Ivan about purchasing two collapsible chaise lounges — like the classic British deck chairs. He did answer his cell, but said he had closed Simply Patio, as his storage unit had been robbed and he was concentrating on his purified water business. Somehow this was not a shock. I’m just happy we have four teak chairs. At the moment, Geoff is busy working on a drawing of a combo deck chair/Muskoka chair. We will pay more, but he’ll solve the crucial design points and deliver.
In May, we gave two boring high- back pine chairs to a local artist, Elina Chauvet. Elina was to treat them for termites, and then paint up a storm, whatever she wanted to do. “Go crazy” was the extent of the creative brief, along with $100 (US) down payment. She promised them for the end of June. It’s now September 14, and I have not seen our chairs. We are in contact via e mail, but art exhibitions keep preventing her from starting our chairs. We were to each have one for our work stations; these were to be our “art chairs.” Great idea, but no resolution yet. I’ve interviewed Elina for M! Magazine, run a profile on her, but that does not seem to have any affect on her deadline. Next week I’m going to have Alfredo phone her and have a friendly chat — Mexican to Mexican. The good news is we bought a sofa on June 21, the store phoned, and we get to examine it next week. Three months for a sofa to be made and shipped from Guadalajara? I no longer know what a normal time frame is.
It’s now September 28 and we are about to view our condo for the very first time; other than the shell from last March. We are to meet Geoff Simons, who will install our furniture toward the end of the week. We’ve made the final payment on the condo and decide to celebrate with lunch on the Malecon at La Copa de Leche, which is five minutes away from Vue Centro Historico. La Copa has always been a favourite of ours; Alfredo and his buddies have coffee there most mornings and we join them on Wednesdays for conversational Spanish. The topics are varied; we learn a little Spanish and toward the end of the hour when our Spanish runs dry there is more English being spoken. True, we are language lazy, but we also know that immersion is not for us. Alfredo has decided the best way to learn is to be with Mexicans who speak enough English to guide us through. He’s right; often we need some English context. La Copa has been in the same location for over 50 years,(it’s the same restaurant that issued the “loyalty coffee card” for Alfredo’s birthday) the waiters are well paid, get benefits and holidays; that’s why Ernesto has been working there for 16 years. When he is not waiting tables he sweeps, swipes the windows and changes light bulbs. Ernesto realizes he has a good job and the owners appreciate his dedication. We arrive with our usual, “Hola, buenas tardes” and notice there is a strange woman sitting in a chair and she’s talking to herself. Loudly. Upon a closer look her blouse is wide open and thankfully, she’s wearing a bra. She’s talking to the entrance of the restaurant, to no one in particular. Luis, the owner, and Ernesto are gently trying to encourage her to move on. The more gentle they are, the more violent she becomes. She begins to yell and stomps off in a huff only to drop her jeans. She circles around and returns just wearing a bra and panties, sits in the same chair and continues to talk to her ghosts. In Mazatlan, the only resource owners or managers have is to call the police. We have the Looney Bean coffee shop, but there is no loony bin for people who are lost or damaged. Families usually take care of their injured ones. Her volume increases and finally Luis calls the police. This striptease show is not good for business. It’s very depressing, but needs to be dealt with.
The Tourist Police arrive on their bikes, try to establish her residence (she’s clean, decently groomed so must have a home somewhere) and the woman becomes even more violent. They eventually handcuff her. She has no identification papers, so they walk her along the Malecon. Twenty minutes later the woman returns to the same chair. At least she has her pants on this time. We wait. She continues to talk loudly. Luis once again calls the police, this time they include a female officer. Soren and I discuss what would happen in Canada. I think we’d call the police and they would take her to a branch of a hospital for some form of a psychiatric assessment. At least, that’s what we’d like to believe. She strips again, the female officer manages to get her to put her clothes on, and this time they walk her further away. What can the police to do? They are as lost as the lost women. We pay our bill and it’s now up to Luis to try and find her family, or a relative, who can shed some light on the sad situation.
We shake our heads at this Mexican Moment and walk in the blistering sun toward our new home.