I decide to explore the town. I walk down the street and say Buenos Dias to the several folks I see up and about. A womon sitting in her home watching early morning tv calls me over to her window. Her home is adobe and cement blocks, low to the ground.
We speak and she wants me to come in and have coffee. Instead, I invite her to come for a walk with me. She says her English is limited and we know about my Spanish. I feel like I forget the simplest words when talking with her. She tells me her name again and again. Chuyita, Chuyita, Chuyita.
I think she is in her 40’s or 50’s, but I could be wrong. She has 2 children, I believe, and two granddaughters. Her niece, Veronica, who is pregnant and has a child, seems to live with her. She wants to know where is my esposo. I ask her where is hers? She does not have one – no necesito – and I agree more than she’ll probably ever want to know.
We walk around the town, which is very beautiful, simple, colorful with paint and bogenvilla, with most houses sharing adjoining walls or tiny dirt walkways. She has locked her door. We walk down the paved road, which I now see is the only paved road in town, until she directs me onto a dirt road that circles back to her home, and is closer to the ‘mar’.
She is wearing tiny heels, not really conducive to walking.
She points out the unidentifiable church and a very rich person’s house, which appears to be the auto mechanic’s house. I now see that we are on a strip of land, like a peninsula, jutting out into the mar.
As we walk, I complain about the car alarm continuing to go on and off. She points out a guy on a bicycle and says ‘huevos’. Oh of course, not an armed car but an announcing a bike pedaling around selling eggs!
Between the houses that line this side of the mar, we spot men, layered with clothes, tugging on piles of grey netting, traps, and floats, and several docks where boats are lined up, with statuesque pelicans, still and tall, aligning themselves along the boat rails.
There is one dock in the near distance where all the boats moored there list at an angle, a slant, a twist, ship-wrecked perhaps, or just waiting to go out onto the ‘mar’ or maybe for repairs! It is difficult to tell what is in use or finally used for the last time, for people here seem to have found additional uses for almost everything.
These fascinating boats would make a great picture if I had a camera, but again, my words have to be my camera.
When we return to her home, she unlocks the padlock and invites me inside. It is dark and cool. She calls me her friend!
She has a table and four matching chairs in this, her front room, a legless glass-doored cabinet sitting off the floor on cinder blocks with some bright yellow and blue dishes displayed on each shelf along with two small pictures, one of her daughter and the other her granddaughter, a tall white refrigerator that is probably from the 50’s, with the freezer door that opens on top and fridge part lower on the bottom.
And a very small colorless color tv sitting on top of the fridge. I notice a radio sitting on top of the cabinet. She offers me coffee – instant! I have already refused fish. I accept the coffee and we continue to try to have a conversation.
Chuyita wants me to put sugar in my coffee. I tell her no sugar. She asks me only honey? I say only chocolate. She starts singing “sugar, sugar, oh honey, honey”. Of course I join her “you are my candy girl”.
She knows all the words in what she thinks is english but indistinguishable to me. She, of course, wants me to sing in english only I forget most of the words but recognize the tune and we have fun singing.
Two young girls have joined us, Fer and Leonor, 9 and 7 years old, dressed in hot pink. They laugh at us singing. Chuyita puts on the radio and starts dancing. The music is great of course, in espanol, and she is having so much fun I have to get up and dance with her.
We invite the girls to join us but they become suddenly shy and say no.
The girls stare curiously and are trying not to laugh when I speak – in English or Spanish. I am able to ask them the simplest questions, where do you go to school, how old are you, do you like school, how do you spell your name?
A fly lands on her cheek an inch below her eye and I have to restrain myself as I get the urge to shoo it away as Fer does not blink. Now I stare fascinated. Even as the fly moves freely around and then takes off, Fer doesn’t twitch. She perhaps wonders why I am staring and I hope the horror doesn’t show on my face.
I wonder if I will ever get so used to flies, or if I even want to.
My new friend, Chuyita, shows me her bedroom that has two made beds, also on cinderblocks, in it with fluffy deep brown, polyester covers, unlike my bed that remains unmade.
Only old, corners curling, water-stained pictures of jesus and mary with the bleeding hearts strategically – by the door, by the tv, by the table – grace her walls that are covered with what looks like beautiful shades of salmon-colored clay.
She points out the bathroom off the back of the bedroom, whose doorway, as all her doorways but the front one, is also covered with hanging fabric but through a crack I can see evidence of a skewed toilet seat cover. I do not ask to use the bathroom, nor does she offer it to me. Oh well.
In between the front room and bedroom is a little utility-type room/closet where some clothes are piled on top of a tall table and more clothes lay under the table. I have a quick vision of my clothes hanging across the entire back of my truck and know they would not fit in this room.
She takes me back outside where there are cinderblock partial walls of various heights of a room with no roof, empty space for windows and doors, and proudly shows me a plant she has growing there in the corner.
We go thru that room to the back of the house where there is another small room – and a couple more plants – attached to the back of the house, with a slightly slanted concrete or maybe galvanized metal table top, with a 4” lip around the outer edges, against the wall taking up most of the tiny room. I see a slight decline and drain on the back of the table when she proudly says lava something – for washing.
I believe her plants must be gifts, as they look like houseplants most likely native to Hawaii. I wonder if her daughter, who either is a policeperson or married to one and lives in Tijuana, gave them to her.
We return to her front room and she swiftly opens the freezer door for me to see it stuffed and overflowing with frozen fish.
Every floor is concrete and every room is spotless, immaculate, with nothing out of place.
Her house, tour, and coffee is complete. I invite her to come visit my house, where everything has a place but most likely is not in it.