Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mornings in Yelapa 6

The longer April and I stay here, the more we realize that the two cultures in Yelapa exist like parallel universes. The oldest gringo residences here know quite a bit of what`s going on in the native community while having to shrug their shoulders at some aspects of it. Even those who have married into the culture, I suspect, don't know all its ins and outs. It's kind of like the mysteries one experiences of the opposite sex -- compounded by the various degrees of culture clash. Then there are gringos like yours truly, whose command of the language is virtually nil. My wife knows quite a bit of Spanish, though it's probably only enough to communicate in what must sound to a Mexican like babytalk. Me, I speak in one-word or single phrase "sentences."

One material aspect of Yelapa's gringo-Mexican clash has to do with the handling, or mishandling, of garbage. There's been some attempt in Yelapa, led by gringos and some enlightened natives, to compost and/or recycle waste. But the burning of waste goes on, including the burning of plastic (plastic has long since replaced the native shopping baskets women once carried to market as containers) with its noxious, carcinogenic fumes. Respiratory ailments are common, particularly among the children. Attempts are ongoing to outlaw the practice. Yet, as in the United States and Canada, convenience often rules. There's the inconvenience of having to haul one's garbage to the pier or to the beach for pickup by the boats that will haul it to Boca de Tomatlan for compacting; besides, there's a charge for the service. Why spend money when you can simply burn your waste, including your plastic, in your back yard?

There may be a partial solution to this problem after the February 25 benefit to raise money to create a job for someone in the native community to collect garbage for periodic disposal. Tickets for the benefit, which reportedly will include a delicious meal, have been selling for two hundred pesos. That cost, of course, will insure that few natives will attend. Nevertheless, the word is definitely out about the importance of garbage disposal (has been, in fact, for years, but awareness had lapsed) and the health hazards of burning plastic. Funny thing is that Mexicans tend to be very clean personally, keep their houses neat and clean, wash the cobbles or wet down the dust in front of their houses, etc., daily, and yet, throughout Mexico, there`s this indifference, this acceptance of litter outside one`s domicile.

You may wonder why I`ve posted no pictures from Yelapa. Believe me, I`ve tried. But the dial-up connections are simply too slow to upload pictures, so unless I haul my laptop into Vallarta, where there`s fast Internet, I`ll have to wait until I`m back in Canada, sitting at my desktop computer, to add pictures to these foreign postings.

Not that I`m looking foward to the end our Mexican sojourn. That`ll come soon enough, and I can wait.
P.S. Since writing the above, I've returned to Canada and my desktop computer and have added some pictures to these postings.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mornings in Yelapa 5

Yesterday was the annual Valentine Day's celebration in Yelapa, including the windup, I think, of the croquet tournament at Jerrod's place, Los Naranjos, and the costume ball last night at -- this year -- the Oasis upriver (traditionally it's been held at the Hotel Lagunita on the beach). The ball is a ball. Virtually everyone in the gringo colony participates (we've obstained so far), coming out in really crazy, inspired costumes. There's a contest, in which contestants prance before the judges to hoots and hollers from the onlookers, and prizes of up to 25,000 pesos (US$250) are awarded to the winners. Top win last night went to a group of gay, nearly naked young men, dressed spectacularly in masked helmets, feathers and boas (they looked like tropical birds) and calling themselves ^Fag Team Wrestlers,^who engaged in a mock wrestling match as the delighted crowd nearly raised the palapa roof off with their cheers.

There was disco dancing afterwards that had April and me on the floor for a wild number or two; then we pulled out our flashlights and headed back through the darkened village to our apartment up in the jungle. Got home about 11 p.m. The party went on, I think, until after midnight.

The night before we'd attended the birthday party of one of the old hands down here that, for crazy dancing, rivaled the Valentine's Day shindig and Wednesday and Saturday night disco at the Yacht Club. Truly wild, man. These Yelapinos indeed know how to party -- most of whom are aging Baby Boomers, some ex-flower children, all still capable of wiggling their asses.

So the good life continues here. This morning was, oh God, the start of another beautiful day in paradise.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Mornings in Yelapa 4

We´re in Vallarta today, mainly for me to see a doctor about my infected hand. Get a cut or abrasion here in the tropics and, unless you treat it as already infected, almost certainly it´s going to get infected within a day or so. I had the misfortune to fall while climbing down a steep jungle path in Yelapa a week ago -- a week ago! So the doctor I saw this morning took one look at my hand and told me it was "very infected" and prescribed penicillin twice a day for five days by injection. Then I went to a farmacia and filled the prescription at a cost of some $35 US. The visit to the doctor cost about the same. Mexican health care, by the way, is reportedly one of the best in the world.

Our weather has wonderfully improved. Yesterday there wasn´t a cloud in the sky, it was gloriously hot and sunny, and we went to the beach. But because of my injured hand, I couldn´t go swimming. Ah well. Just basking in all that heat and light after a month of mostly cloudy weather was enough: what we came here for.

Little by little, through talking to Yelapa residents, we´re getting a feel for the community -- its pros and cons, family squabbles, environmental concerns -- what lies beneath the surface, in short, in what appears to the day-trip tourist as a paradise without serpents. Paradisal Yelapa has its serpents, all right, but it remains a paradise to us gringos.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Mornings in Yelapa 3

We've been in Yelapa a month already; two more to go. I've wanted to post regularly in my blog, but the Internet connections here are primitive, to say the least. Painfully slow and infinitely frustrating when they're working, and often they don't work at all. Periodically we go into Puerto Vallarta, where you can find fast Internet connections on almost every block, and where you often find a fellow Yelapino sitting at the machine next to you, enjoying the splendid service as much as you.

January's cool, cloudy weather seems to have left us, finally, and we can perhaps look forward to normal, dry season weather now -- that is to say, beautiful weather, what we came here for. Keeping my fingers crossed. However, there's no doubt (just talk to the old expats, the natives, down here) that so-called climate change is a reality. The fishing has noticeably deteriorated in the three years we've been coming down here.

Anyway, my wife and I are keeping busy. I write on my novel every morning, and April practices Qgong. She's starting a class in it this Thursday morning, and I'm reading Thursday afternoon from my about-to-be-published memoir (the opening chapter, all I have with me in hard copy), thanks to my wife's proud promotion of her husband. We'll both use restaurants as our venues, April at the Pollo Bollo on a day it'll be closed, me at the Vortex after its 4 p.m. closing for the day. We'll put up posters around time later today.

So it goes here. We gringo residents offer our services and/or talents to one another when and how we can, often for a modest fee (April will ask for donations to teach Qigong; I, however, must read for gratis. What the hell).

So long for now from paradise.