Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

It is never "Turkey Day" for me. Nor have I ever engaged in the mass spending spree known as "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday."

I don't know why more isn't made of the fact that the whole holiday was based on giving thanks to the Native Americans who could have just shrugged and gone about their harvest festivities, ignoring the poor Pilgrims unable to grow enough of their own food that first year in a New World. I'll bet there are more than a few Native Americans today who wished their ancestors hadn't been so generous.

And I've sat at my share of Thanksgiving dinners, but have yet to hear any thanks given to the original inhabitants of this continent and have kept mum when I wanted to squeal, "Okay, okay. So thank the Lord, too, but give credit where credit's due!" I try to be a polite guest.

In some ways, though, every day is Thanksgiving for me; I am thankful for so much. The health and well-being of loved ones, all the love in my life, and life itself, which has been (so far!) nothing but serendipitous. It has been so blessed and yet I have no idea why. Sure, a little of it was effort, but so much was just chance, circumstance and other factors I had no way of controlling.

Like growing up in different cultures and countries, in different languages. (Others have to spend years to become fluent in a second language.)
Like learning to be self-sufficient at a young age. (My non-English speaking mom was not much help in the U.S.)
Like losing a father and growing up real fast. (I mostly by-passed that horrible disco-n-coke era.)
Like NOT getting hired by any Japanese company post-graduation but somehow stumbling into what turned into an amazing career.

Through that, I met hundreds of fabulous people, both famous and unknown, found and learned to keep great friends. Heck, even my posture became better through all those on-camera jobs. And last but not least, finding Big Dog through that career and getting a lifetime of adventures and challenges.

The fatalist in me is worried it will all come to a crashing halt one of these days. The optimist in me says it never will because no matter how bad things get, I will always get something special out of it.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


She was very attractive. Long and slender, with big eyes ringed in kohl like some Egyptian beauty but not at all aloof. No, she was frisky and playful. And heartbreakingly affectionate. She knew how to win over hearts.

"Shall I call you Cleo?" I laughed as she ran after some sand crabs.
"Or do you like Nefertiti better?"

The Tattooed One wasn't answering. Just splashing in the waves, running up ahead to chase a booby or two, digging in the sand to expose a hidden crab.

"I know you're thirsty," I kept rattling. "But we'll get to that sweet, sweet water soon. Aguadulce...aguadulce...."

She walked with us all the way up the beach to the north end where there a spring poured fresh water into the bay and we all refreshed ourselves in the cool water. By then, I was calling the caramel-colored girl Dulce, for her personality was as sweet.

"Are you coming with us, Dulce?"
We turned around to walk the 4km back home and Dulce didn't hesitate for a moment. Sometimes ahead of us, sometimes behind, but never too far away. When Big Dog stopped to take a photo, Dulce would look up, walk over to me and lean against my leg. Even Big Dog was impressed.

"Not only is she clean and good-looking, she's smart and so well-mannered! Wish our ranch dogs were more like her!" and we talked about how we would NOT adopt her. We had to. We had to give each other reasons why that was a Bad Idea.

Back at the trailer, I got a tub of water for her. When she whimpered, Big Dog let her into the trailer! (That was a surprised even to me!) But Dulce didn't start pouncing on the sofas, or chewing on stuff. It was as if she already knew what kind of behavior would allow her to stay with us and what wouldn't. She found herself a cool spot on the tiled floor and lay down until it was time for us to go and try to find some food. ("Which taco stand shall we go to tonight?")

Dulce came with us to the taco stand, got a few tidbits, then came back home with us for more chow.

"Do you remember Teo? That gay boy who followed D.?"
"Yeah. I can't believe D took him to our island," said Big Dog. "I don't think D knew Teo was gay. He probably thought, oh, good, a houseboy."
Teo was a good kid. Girly and giggly but very sweet, he looked after D like a girlfriend even though D was Very Not Gay. Funny how we both remembered Teo after more than 30 years.

"Maybe Dulce's like that. Maybe she finds a new 'friend' each season to love in return for food and shelter," I wondered.

Dulce slept on our porch last night as I dreamt of taking her home with me. And when I woke, I was practicing how to say "where does one buy dogfood in this town" in Spanish.

But by then, Dulce was gone. Gone, with a tiny little piece of my heart.

You Heartbreaker!

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Monday, November 05, 2012

Life's A Beach

The Restless Dogs have left North America, returning to the Central Pacific Coast of Mexico.

In years past, we were happy to stay in a little village on Bahia de Navidad, but it's changed a lot since we first stumbled upon it in 2004.

First, some of the main roads were paved. Then, the next year, that paving was torn up to put in sewer lines. One year, the jardin, the central square, was redone (for no apparent reason.) Then, two bright florescent-lit convenience stores (Kiosko AND OXXO) opened to become glaring beacons in the night, out-shining the tiny neon cross of their church. Boys traded traditional vaquero (cowboy) attire so common in Jalisco for the boring B-Boy look you see everywhere. Girls went all J-Lo. We started hearing more hip hop and reggaeton than ranchera blasting out from the big black trucks that circled the jardin at night.

"I used to know everyone in the village," sighed G., our Japanese friend. "Now, I don't know anyone. They're all from somewhere else."

This sort of thing changes the fabric of society. And not in a good way.

So this year, we are north about 20 kilometers. If our former Mexican village was tiny, this one is positively microscopic. One carniceria (which runs out of meat a lot, seemingly), one lavanderia, one ferreteria (that is always closed except on weekends) and one farmacia (which might also be the one clinica, with their one and only doctora.) There are no pescaderias at all. The fisherman's co-op has the monopoly on fresh seafood.

For anything else,you go to the closest abbarotte, local stores that had the "convenience store" concept long before 7-11.

Nighttime dining is always a challenge in rural Mexico unless you can make do with tacos, tacos and more tacos, but here, it becomes an even bigger challenge when there are only 2 taco stands and they seem to be open only between 7 and 9pm.

And we are in a rusty fifth-wheel trailer that's been parked on the beach for 20-odd years, fighting bugs and sweating through the long hot airless nights.

I love it.

There's the sound of the surf at night, stars all a-glitter. Coconut palms fringe a long, lonely, undeveloped beach. Land hasn't been all parceled up and privatized yet. There are so few people here that everyone greets everyone else.

We are sandwiched between the ocean and a mangrove swamp that's home to some of the biggest and best-fed crocodiles I have ever seen. And life's pretty bitchin' in this sweaty, buggy paradise.