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blogging | by Priya Lal | April 01, 2004 at 05:05 PM | comments (5) | trackback (0)

cabo san francisco is absolutely gorgeous. stunning. unbelievably so. how to describe it? succintly, i shall try. it sits in a little inlet before a small cape protruding into the green ocean, on a most lovely, perfect light-sand beach with warm waves ideal for playing in or walking beside. the fishermen all hover around the waters around the cape, and their boats are always in sight. behind the village extends this massive, lush tropical forest - green, green, and alive with the whirring of many mysterious insects. two hills lined with cacao crops jut out slightly from the messy forest, as does a little hill lined with graves that is the cemetary.
the village consists of two main "streets" that are lined, weirdly, by a couple of randomly-placed street lamps. the houses are made mostly of reeds and wood with tin roofs covered with fronds. there is a cement court that i think is supposed to be a basketball court, and a big patchy field where the boys play futbol. though there is spotty electricity, there is no real running water to speak of. however, there are lots of tiny stores selling bottled water and snacks, which i definitely did not expect. and the village is alive with the sounds of salsa music - lots of houses have stereos (sort of incongruous amidst the hammocks and bare floors and walls) that blare out carribean rhythms at all hours of the day. which i love.
i survived for all of two hours in the foundation's (see this page for more info on the foundation for which i'm volunteering) house, where i was supposed to live alone, and now am living in a small, unlighted, but sufficient room with a wonderful small family. the foundation's house did indeed turn out to be filled with bats - so many that the incense that i had brought along to smoke them out with would have turned out to be woefully, and i mean woefully, inadequate. the motherfuckers seem to have colonized the place - their shit is everywhere, they squeak like possessed birds, and one almost made me faint when it came alive off the wall and hissed in my face.
so i'm very happy in the house where i am, where the only thing that plagues me is the fist-sized spider that lives on the wall of the bathroom. but i can live with that, really. i eat my meals in the kitchen of this old lady who loves to chat and cooks up a storm - i'm really getting spoilt, with 3 huge meals a day of rice, fresh fish, plantains, fresh blackberry and passion fruit juices, amazing soups with beans and yucca and clams and such. i'm lucky that there are a couple of biology students from a german university living here, doing fieldwork for some big project about insects or something. they're nice enough, as weird as one might expect biology students to be, but good company. i appreciate the english. there is also an american couple who are completing the last month of their two years in the village as a peace corps stint - i've only chatted with them briefly thus far.
so my project for the foundation - a census of traditional medicinal plants - has been going fairly well. i've been chatting with all the midwives and a couple of crazy old plant ladies who lives in houses with wonderful gardens full of all kinds of medicinal greens and secret herbs. one of the midwives really likes to talk it up and spent hours telling me every detail about how she delivers babies, and told me she wants to deliver mine. i guess next week i'll don my mud boots and head into the forest to do my best imitation of a botanist and check out some of these special plants in their natural habitats. and dodge the snakes, of course.
how do i spend my time? it's a difficult question to answer, because it can be difficult to spend time in cabo. i try to do so by visiting the beach twice a day for long walks and thinking. i write a lot, which i'm thankful for. i've also been reading a bit, but i try to ration my short stories so i don't exhaust all my reading material at once. i also sit around and watch the village go by a lot, make friends, etc. making friends isn't hard, especially with the men, who are big flirts. but i try to avoid them and hang out with the kids; it's a bit less messy, methinks.
small but important things happen to mark every day. on saturday the two "discotecas" in the village came alive with pumping salsa rhythms, and me and the germans sat around and drank beer on the benches outside with the men, who were well on their way to getting wasted but still looked bored at this point. it seems to be a village tradition that all the men dress up in their nicest shirts and pants, all crisp and white, on saturdays, start getting drunk, and spend sunday either lying in the dirt semi-conscious or pumping more and more alcohol through their veins in the sunday sun. the women, it seems, stay home. on saturday i also met miguel, the village idiot, who was running around dancing to the salsa tunes and throwing rocks at the kids who made fun of him. and on saturday, a girl named alexandra came up to me on the beach and asked me if i wanted to be her friend.
on sunday i made another friend, 12 year old angel, who has the most beautiful smile i've ever seen and is a shy sweetheart of a boy. he came up to me on the beach and drew dolphins in the sand for me, and when we were walking home at sunset he caught a crab and gave it to me.
on monday the 21-year old son of the woman who cooks for me spent all of lunchtime making eyes at me and gave me a piece of sugar cane. i met my first midwife, the peace corps guy, and found three whole sanddollars on the beach.
on tuesday i walked a half an hour back into the forest with three beautiful, confident, composed, friendly, laughing 12-year old girls. we went swimming under a bridge in a river as warm as bathwater and as still as a mirror, into which ripe guavas literally fall off the trees. on tuesday i also tried two fruits for the first time - the orange, pumpkin-textured, sweet, little-canteloupe shaped, with thick seeds - zapote, and the weird sierra that looks like a rotten banana, whose skin you tear off to reveal white fuzzies coating black seeds (the fuzzies being what you eat).
on wednesday i went to muisne, the little island town where the boat that i fell off of (see my blog, for more on that one...) docks, in an unsuccessful search for internet. although i didn't get on the web, i picked up a lot of cowry shells on the beach to make jewelry, passed a village where a man was killing a snake with a sword, and saw a purple dog (inexplicable - someone's bad joke?) running through the empty muisne streets. and wednesday, yesterday, it rained - torrents, buckets - a tropical storm.
today? summary: to get to the internet, you see, i have to do this: walk from my village to the end of a gorgeous, empty beach, cross a field, and take a tiny little motorboat to the "town" of muisne, from where i catch an 1 1/2 hour bus to this coastal tourist spot, atacames. i made it through the first three parts of this process when i fell getting off the boat, and now sit here in atacames bloodied and bruised, nursing my wounds. tonite will find me in a comfy hotel before i head back south to cabo to reenter village life once again.


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