Sunday, February 04, 2007

Such a social day, yesterday. After our usual beach walk and strenuous afternoon of watching the orioles sipping at our makeshift bird feeder (half an orange), we cycled over to Ian’s for 4 o’clock tea. Ian had got out his Ivan Rebruff CDs to play for me. We all drank tea and chatted, and then he brought out some books about English villages, Stonehenge, and various other things British. While R and I were leafing through them, just about ready to come home, the topic of my first visit to Winchester Cathedral came up in conversation. I ended up telling Ian all about it, including the fact that I wept through the entire Evensong service, and that I then phoned my friend Karen in Canada to tell her what I had just done and ended up weeping all over the phone. As I told Ian the story, my eyes filled with tears again. Sheesh. It must be ten years since all that happened. I think it’s one of the signs of old age, this inability to hide one’s emotions. Not that I wasn’t always a crybaby, but I seem to be getting worse.

We had a throw-together dinner, entertained by some pretty loud music coming over the fence, then I decided I would head to the beach for a few minutes.

When I got as far as Alfredo’s place, there was a man sitting in the big outdoor salon, reading a book and drinking a beer. He turned out to be a local dentist named Luis, a friend of Alfredo’s. On his invitation, I sat down and we started to talk. We talked for about an hour, which is pretty remarkable in that Luis seems to know about three words of English. We talked about the beauty of the sound that the sea makes, about how lovely Alfredo’s park is, about the group next door. The government, it seems, carts people in from all over Mexico to spend holidays at this big “hotel”, for lack of a better word. They were the ones having the loud musical party, and it sounded like fun. We talked about how important music is to both of us.

All the while, Luis’s cell phone kept ringing. He kept taking it out and fiddling with it, putting it back in his pocket without actually answering it. He seemed to be trying to explain to me that the people calling didn’t want to talk to him at all, that they were looking for other people that live at his house. Or else he was telling me that it was some woman calling him, and that he didn’t want to talk to her because she had been ignoring him and he was annoyed with her. Or both. Whatever he was saying, I was only catching bits of it. I told him that his cell phone was just like mine, and he got all excited. Would I show him? Unsure what he wanted, I showed him how to check his messages. “No! No messages!” I scrolled to the call records. “ No! No records!” He was the picture of frustration. Finally, “How do I make it stop?” Aha! So I showed him how to turn his phone off and how to turn it back on again. That led to another conversation about the fact that he hadn’t seen a television until he was thirty, that this new technology was more than he could cope with, that he didn’t know how these young people figured it all out so easily.

Now you may get the idea from all this that the conversation was flowing fairly smoothly, a gracious exchange between strangers, a few rough spots where language got in the way, but no. The fact is, Luis was doing most of the talking, and I was struggling mightily to understand him, but most of what he said went past me like verbal gunfire. I hadn’t a clue. Periodically I would interrupt him in order to explain that. You must keep in mind, I said in my halting Spanish, that I’m only catching about one word in six. He would slap his forehead, roll his eyes, cross his hands over his heart, throw his arms out in an expansive gesture, and Zoom! Off he would go on another tangent, looking at me as if, all evidence to the contrary, I understood what he was saying. At one point I thought he said that his father died a year ago, but when I asked if that was it, he started to laugh and said, no, he died fifty-two years ago. Ah. He died when Luis was a year old.

At the end of an hour, I excused myself and walked wearily home. I must say, the visit was fun, but it was also chastening. I’m thinking of enrolling in a Mexican kindergarten, to learn the language from the ground up.

Oh my goodness. While I was reading through my post I heard a loud skittering sound from the tree a few feet to my left. I looked over, and there was Pete, the Really Big Iguana whose photograph I posted yesterday. He had slid down the trunk of the tree and was sitting on a low branch, huffing and puffing and shaking his bright orange wattle. I think he had lost his footing. He's gone back up to the top of the tree now.

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