Sunday, December 17, 2006

Reflections on the Nature of Vacation

It’s amazing how little can happen when you genuinely vacate your regular life in a place like this. The days simply blend together in a never ending filmstrip of sleep, carne machaca, birds, sleep, chitchat, sun, surf, dead squid, sunsets, breezes, bossy cats and sleep.

Yesterday we visited Guelaquetza our favorite little curio shop here in town. In the olden days it was a great place to find those colorful Oaxacan carvings of whimsical animals and we slowly built a decent collection based on their stock. They’re still there, but the prices have gone through the roof. I’m glad we have the ones we have, because starting a collection now would indeed be a costly undertaking. Using my best Spanish I told the proprietress how the rear view mirror in my car still sports a small carved jaguar’s head that I had bought in her store more than 10 years ago. She was pleased and responded in a most grave and sincere tone that I was entitled to a 10% discount on everything in the store. I tried to explain how it was my good luck charm for travel, failing to mention how poorly it worked considering the battery troubles we had down here last October.

This late in the game, we’ve managed to find most of the birds we were looking for and last night decided to cap the count with an attempt to get some owls. Out by the old Club Med there is a decent stand of Barrel Cactus that I thought might produce an Elf Owl. So we drove out. The Arctic Eagle was still sitting in the back harbor, brightly lit with strings of white lights. An acquaintance here told us that she’d heard that it was purchased and renovated by “someone” and that it had been sitting here for more than three months doing “something.” In addition to the motor yacht and runabout mentioned in the last blog entry, it also holds a jeep on its decks. Where the owners are currently, no one knows.

Continuing down the road, we came across a couple of Lesser Nighthawks working over the bugs under a tall streetlight in the middle of the median near the Algodones dunes. At Club Med there were no Elf Owls, but there were two pickup trucks that refused my entreaty to go in front of me as I idled in the traffic circle. One even went so far as to shoot around the back of the circle to come out behind me lest I had some nefarious intent in being courteous.

Driving on, we found a half dozen more Nighthawks flitting around the bright signs for the bars at Club Med. Pulling off to watch them, we were passed by a couple of people on dirt bikes and two in a stripped down dune buggy. Considering the dark and the isolation, it evoked a scene out of “Road Warrior” to be sure. A trip through the Ranchitos section of town also failed to produce an owl but we did see a tiny Siamese kitten playing in the ditch along the road at the base of a wall. In the headlights it looked like a ghost cat but judging from its good condition, it must have belonged to one of the wintering retirees. It almost came home with us.


Tomorrow it’s time to pack the car and head to town for our final vacation machaca breakfast and my grand opportunity to use my Spanish to order “cuatro ciento pesos” worth of gasoline at the local Pemex station. From there, back up the road we came down and across the border. Vacations are funny things, alternating between too short and too long. Today, this one feels too short.

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