Sunday, January 16, 2005

The smell of diesel in the morning

16 January 2005

PARADISE VILLAGE MARINA, NAYARIT, MEXICO — The smell of diesel mixed Saturday for hours with the normal aromas of Coppertone, food cooking on barbecues and the lime from margaritas, when someone spilled at least 10 gallons of fuel into the harbor, prompting a massive cleanup effort. But nothing could eradicate the odor. The marina workers ran around like characters from a Monty Python movie throwing soap out into the water to disperse the oil. It works, but the effect on the aquatic life is devastating.

Today, one of my projects is cleaning the bottom of my inflatable dinghy that is no doubt slimed with diesel. It was sitting neatly tied to the dock when the oil scum came floating down the channel. At least the diesel might kill some of the barnacles that have taken up residence on the boat’s bottom. The bottom of my sailing dinghy took hours to clean this past week and it’s going to sit on the dock — safe from grip of the little salty bastards — until I decided to go rowing or sailing next.

Sabbatical is starting to look better than it has in several years. Amazing how spiffed up all things get when you think about selling. The teak is golden, the topsides shiny and most of the lockers (formerly crammed with stuff) are mostly empty. The only holdout is my bookcase which I hate to face. Some of the books probably should be given away, but they are all like old friends.

We drove through some of the small villages near Paradise Village today on our way to a storage unit in nearby San Vincente where we are stashing some of the treasures we have taken off the boat. These towns are the real deal — dirt streets with potholes big enough to lose a Buick in, barefoot children all over the place and tiny stores on every corner offering only the most basic of groceries. We also saw some new housing developments, 600 to 800-square-foot homes that sell for the equivalent of $10,000 U.S. These are not the beachfront condos we see here at the marina. These are one or two bedroom homes without yards or garages or much of anything. But, like other villages we saw along the coast in our travels last year, the people seem happy. They have jobs, food, and a roof over their heads. They also are polite, not just to gringos, but to each other, in a way that is charming and makes me wish I spoke the language better so I could be more gracious, too.

I’ve been contemplating doing an immersion course in Spanish in the next month or so while we finish getting the boat for sale. The pueblo of San Vincente might be quite the place to learn the language and culture.

Or maybe buy a $10,000 house to use as a place to write the Great American-Mexican Novel.


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