By Margarita Meyendorff
It’s about a three-minute walk to the beach from our gorgeous blue and white casita aptly named La Casa Azul in San Agustinillo, Mexico. The salty sea air is prevalent as Miky and I wake up to the sound of rooster crows and the Pacific waves crashing on the shore. If we wake up early enough, we can watch the splendid red-blood orange globe of the sun rising behind the palm tree on our balcony. For ten minutes, it keeps the intensity of that color before turning a lighter yellow as it rises above the pale blue sky and darker blue of the Pacific.
Miky and I take our bathing suits off our clothesline, sometimes still damp from the evening before. We put them on, grab our sunglasses and flip flops, walk down our steps and pass pink/white/blue flowers growing in our garden, surrounding our path. We pass the small blue swimming pool and the little casita with the arbor of fuchsia flowers. We pass the banana trees with their huge leaves swaying in the breeze and we pass the papaya trees with sexy large papayas hanging from the crook of the limbs. We finally reach the orange metal back door which leads us out of our garden and into the world of our Mexican neighbors.
We descend down the steep cobblestone path, cross the dirt path and reach our pathway to the beach. We pass Tutta, a mop-looking, white, short-legged dog, who is always lying in our path. She is so dirty and smelly that even she knows that she is untouchable. She looks up at me with these little pathetic black beady eyes and I pet her head and tell her that she is beautiful.
On the right we see the lady who rakes her red clay yard every day and hardly ever looks at us. Today she saw us and answered our “Buen Dia” greeting. On the left is some broken construction and another red clay yard where two dogs are always chained and bark as we pass. There are roosters and hens everywhere – in the jungle trees, in the doorways, on the roofs, on the path. The huge roosters with their bright red heads and multi-colored feathers strut their stuff in front of the cackling hens. It’s morning, they all have something to say.
A little white bunny has just crossed our path into a neighbor’s yard – food for the wild dogs unless an owner intervenes and puts it back into its cage. We continue our descent. In the bend of the path, there is a doorway on the left with a muddy trail leading to the interior of a fisherman’s home. A makeshift fence made of rocks, corrugated panels and barbed wire separates one cement home from another. Wooden beams hold up the earth that is someone’s front yard.
On the right are some open cement and wooden buildings with glass windows (clearly an extravagance) and a yard filled with hanging laundry and smells of fried breakfast. A large family lives here – the old and young playing, eating, lying in hammocks, cooking on open fires, living their lives. Often there is water trickling down the path from the clean washed laundry – we step from side to side avoiding the dirty smelly water.
There are at least two or three hammocks per Mexican household.
Carlos, the taxi driver, lives with his family across the path on the left side. His yard is made of cement and his two maroon and white San Agustinillo Nissan taxis are parked there. There is a religious shrine on one side of the taxis and a hammock on the other. A young girl sweeps the yard.
Sweeping of yards is a morning ritual.
A few steps down, another household lives with a colorful parrot making its morning noises. Children run between households or play with their toys on the path. Women balance loads on their heads and walk very straight up and down the path delivering their wares to their families or neighbors. Sewage, wastewater and pink laundry detergent smells mingle with the smoke of cooking or garbage fires. We look up to the bright purple-flowered bushes that line the right side of the road, hoping for a waft of natural perfume.
The road flattens out as we near the main street of San Agustinillo, which we have to cross to reach the beach. On the right side lives the family who owns the corner store where we often buy milk and water. Here too, the laundry washing is in full swing, more dirty water on the path to avoid. Almost at the end of the path is their compost pile, tucked away on the side of the road, where a mother hen has dug a home for her chicks. The other day, I saw a young dog that wanted to play with the chicks and was chasing them around the path. The mother hen would not have any of that nonsense and flew at the dog so ferociously that the dog sat down on its haunches, stunned by the mother’s bravery. Disappointed, the dog sauntered off.
Across the path on the left is the boarded-up makeshift bakery where a year ago we bought chocolate croissants for our breakfast. We would order the croissants on the way to the beach and pick them up after our walk and swim. They were still warm from the oven. They cost pennies and were the best croissants I have ever eaten.
We cross Main Street, bustling with people, cars, trucks, camionetas (public transportation trucks) buses and scooters. We take a few steps down and within twenty feet of the dusty chaos, our feet touch the white sand of the beach. We walk toward the sea to the wet part of the sand where the Pacific waves pound the shore and recede, leaving perfect curvy lines and a comfortable hard sandy surface to walk on. A clean mist rises from the waves and we’re off on our walk and swim before breakfast.
Margarita Meyendorff is the author of the memoir Displaced Person which is available on Amazon.