Waves, Frangipani, Crabs
You rent a cabana on a hill in Mazunte with a view of the ocean and write on the terrace all day long. Waves crash in your ear, wind blows through your mind, and your cheeks, safely tucked in the shade (you think), turn red.
You stand on the earthen tiles of the open-air kitchen, cool against your bare feet and against the bellies of now sleepy yet sometimes barking neighborhood dogs, and you admire the tiniest ants cleaning up your plate. Frangipani blossoms float down before you like mini umbrellas.
You climb down to the beach for a swim, only to discover the force of the crashing waves and the enormous pull of the ocean. You stand in ankle-deep water and wait to be splashed by the surf; going in deeper would be too dangerous. Thousands of crabs scurry into sand holes or fight one another on the rocks. You walk, you meditate, you stare.
Ceviche, Sunset, Mosquitos
You order a large ceviche for the price of a glass of wine in LA, your feet still in the sand, and it’s so deliciously fresh, that you and your husband are now convinced that the lights you made out the previous night from your open-air bedroom are from fishermen at sea.
You watch the sunset from a giant boulder, then slowly make your way back to where you think your cabana is. There is no moon, and you get briefly lost in the humid dark, learning once and for all how quickly night falls in the tropics. On the terrace awaits your first tarantula.
You wake up in the early morning with itchy hands and thighs, and discover that the fan has blown open the mosquito net and you are covered in bites. Your husband takes revenge, his hands red from your blood.
You invest in DEET, spray it on twice a day, even underneath your shirt, because the biggest mosquitos pierce straight through your clothes. On the worst days at dusk, it sounds like you’re applauding yourself in the bathroom, clap clap clap clap, dead bodies everywhere.
Mangoes, Scorpions, Black Volcanic Sand
You pick freshly fallen mangoes from your garden before the squirrels get to them, and peer patiently into the trees. What does a bird that sounds like a non-starting car engine look like? The branches hold the reddest cardinal, the greenest lizard, the brightest parrots, and, eventually, the dark turkey-like creature that won’t start.
You spy a scorpion scurrying across your terrace. Curling around a pillar. Popping up in the open-air shower. Disappearing beneath the fridge. It becomes a nightly occurrence, the scorpion at ten pm—don’t move, step back, feet up! Your soon learn that their bites, though painful, are rarely deadly.
You return to the beach, take off your cloths, and stand naked with your feet in the water. People say Mazunte’s black volcanic sand is magnetic and has healing properties. You say that the sand feels like velvet on your skin. Suddenly, a confluence of waves from three angles rises up around you, lifts you off your feet, hurls you forward with the surf, and smashes you into the velvet that now feels like cement.
Full Moon, Internet, Iguana
You photograph the full moon through a dreamcatcher and witness how the earth’s shadow devours the light. How come you’ve never seen a lunar eclipse before?
You curse the no-speed internet. No wonder some people never leave Mazunte; once here they have no means to book flights or find lodging elsewhere.
You cheer when a dog-sized iguana passes your writing table, poses long enough for you to grab your phone, then runs off like the scared little dinosaur it is. You meet a porcupine fish on the beach, a baby turtle scrambling to the surf, and two small geckos attacking a huge flying cockroach in the kitchen. Everyday, the bushes are full of life that gurgles and screeches and sings. Everyday you note a first, experience something new.
You welcome your Mexican landlord walking onto your terrace, grinning, saying he’s got a gift for you, and hanging a dos-personas hammock from the beams. When you lay down in it and watch the crashing ocean below, you feel suspended, carried by the warm air, and you cannot imagine ever having lived without one.
You eye the weather report with worry. A depression is developing into a tropical storm that might become a cyclone, and it’s heading straight for your coast. The wind is already so fierce that it blows out your gas stove, blows over your furniture, and litters every surface in your open-air cabana in sand and debris. You want to ride out this storm as part of your tropical experience, but decide it’s not safe. Two days before the storm makes landfall, you bail out and say goodbye to Mazunte.
More about Oaxaca, Mexico? See my post on The Weavers of Teotitlan del Valle.