Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Kino Bay: The Two Rules, Opera as Retribution, a Ride Through the Sonoran Desert With a One-Eyed-Pit-bull Named Felon, and My New Favorite Beer

Catherine, a fellow traveler, philosopher, appreciator of surly bartenders and broody folks with the wanderlust....we met at Cafe No Se (a Latin American beacon for the likes of such folks) in Antigua, GT, and became instant pals.

She can drink, she's read a book or two, and she loves Faulkner's nobel prize acceptance speech (so do I for all it's ridiculous romanticism). She lives in Paris and Mexico. She's smart, cynical, sarcastic, loves civeche and fish tacos, and she's very easy and fun to be with....so when she invited me to visit her in Kino Bay, Mexico, I said, "How's the end of March?" She met me at the Hermosillo airport in her very practical minivan with a cold Negro Modelo and a smile....that's how the weekend started.

Before my arrival Catherine explained in an email that there are two rules for staying at her pad in Kino:

1: Dip your feet in the bucket before coming off the beach to the porch

2: Don't pick at the asbestos ceiling

I wrote back that I could live within these rules (are you kidding me? fucking love Mexico!). After a couple beers and a shot of tequila, she added one about not snorting the roach poison...again, I said I could live with that.

Kino is a sleepy Mexican town on the northern coast of the mainland on the Sea of Cortez. The town is divided between old Kino, a typical Mexican town, and New Kino, where the gringos have built their houses on the beach. Normally, it is a very quiet place but not this particular weekend.....it was "youth week," which is something akin to spring break. Rich kids from Hermosillo, the Sonoran State capital an hour east, flock to the coast to party like children while relentlessly blasting really really bad Mexican pop music.

The house next to Catherine's is abandoned and so a gang of 15-20 kids took up residence, camping and drinking around a fire pit and being really fucking noisy all night long. I was undisturbed having drank enough beer and having utilized very effective earplugs. Catherine however declared that she would get her revenge in the morning!

The next day I woke, stirred, pulled out the plugs....stared at the ceiling, blinking, trying to digest the sensory input I was getting....what was that rather sweet noise? I stumbled outta bed and headed through the beach-side porch towards the bathroom and realized that Catherine had her stereo aimed at the neighbors yard blaring opera!! I looked through the fence and saw at least a dozen young bodies sleeping in the dirt, on sleeping bags...some cuddled, some sprawled...beer bottles piled high here and there. And the air was filled with Mozart's Marriage of Figaro or some such! Catherine lamented that her stereo could not be turned up any higher! We sat and drank fruit smoothies on the porch, looked at the sea, and grinned.

The next day was spent wandering the coast through the Sonoran desert with two blue collar gringos, Rich and Miles, that we had met at Jorge's restaurant the night before. They were kind enough....although not the brightest bulbs. Rich had a severe case of verbal diarrhea and Miles had a mustache that was simply criminal in it's scraggly-ness. But they took us along on their quads and the best company was actually Rich's one-eyed pit-bull named Felon (no joke people...that's his name and he has only one eye). He is thick-headed, pure muscle, intense, and sweet as hell. I spent the day wrestling to keep him in the Ranger as we bounced along the remote dirt roads.

Our first stop at the edge of the sea, Rich and I assembled his shore rods, waded out about 70 yards into the shallow water and cast big silver spoons over a rock reef. We jigged and got nibbles....but set not one bite! But as usual I enjoyed the sport of it...the exercise, the concentration, the sea surrounding me.

We continued on, wandering inland and then to the sea...the estuary...stopping at the edge of the mangroves and shallow inlets. We saw hundreds and hundreds of birds...pelicans and frigates and terns and turkey vultures and gulls....occasionally flushing them as we moved through the cacophony of flapping wings. We saw oysters and clams and muscles....waded a small inlet that had crabs and football-sized sea slugs that spit dark purple ink when disturbed. And yes, I disturbed them. The wildlife highlight though, was a pod of dolphins that frolicked yards from the shore! Big ones and little ones swimming and breaching and flopping and splashing! Could have sworn one waved at me and smiled....but then, that's just the way I see things.

On the way back to town we drove through a Seri Indian village where the complex brutal ironies abound....sweet, poor children waving and smiling. Men filling bottles at the water tank....smoking and moving slowly under the mid-day sun. Cinder block houses scattered among the piles of garbage and rusting whatnot. Catherine later explained the way these folks have been exploited from every direction, the government, the mixed-race Mexicans....the gringos. And so they have landed in this government built village on the margin of Kino. Their indigenous history eclipsed. We just waved and smiled and motored through.

By the end of the day we were exhausted and caked in dirt. Miles and I spent the bulk of the day eating Rich and Catherine's dust....it looked like I had on pancake makeup and the old white t-shirt I was wearing....well, don't think it will ever be white again. Catherine owes me pics and I will post them when I get them.

My new favorite beer is: Bohemia.

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