it’s cool to be alive

always forward, no regrets // [a semester away]

rewind: chacahua

It’s suddenly summer in Cuernavaca; Amina and I have been watching American movies and sweating through our clothes. Amina’s host family has this tiny brown daschund named Coco who runs everywhere and gets weird topoographical veins in his ears when he gets too excited. Since arriving in this city, I haven’t left the apartment. It feels okay. I’m fucking exhausted.

Last week we spent a few days in Chacahua, soaking up some very bright sun and swimming in the most perfect ocean I’ve seen in a while.  Chacahua’s way out– from Puerto Escondido it’s a microbus to Rio Grande, where we were bitten by ants and talked to a weird crackhead and then took a taxi about 15 minutes to where the lanchas leave. I’m not sure what that town was called, actually, aside from “where the boats leave”; we were there only briefly, but long enough to meet three very funny characters. The taxi driver dropped us at a small house right on the water, where the driver was promptly tipped by a serious-looking lady in a filthy apron. Stefan, Ramon and Roberto were already there, waiting for a few more bodies so we could fill up the lancha that’d take us to Chacahua. Ramon and Roberto were immediately identifiable as one of two things– either Not Mexican or Mexico City Hipsters. It was the skinny jeans and the Vans, really (and Ramon’s gauged ears). They’re both from Los Angeles, but Ramon is studying at UNAM in D.F. Roberto, his friend from home, was visiting for the week. They were doing about a destination a day, and spending their nights on overnight buses. They had recently acquired a hilarious accesory– Stefan, the anxious and inexplicable German with 7 pieces of luggage.

The lancha ride was fast, windy, and absolutely beautiful. The trip to Chacahua is about twenty minutes long, and most of it is spent winding between huge open green lagoons and slim mangrove tunnels, the powerboat hugging the turns in an almost-too-close kind of way. We arrived intact, our youthful boat driver fell in love with Amina, and then we gathered our things and wandered out to the beach– a balking Stefan in tow. All I wanted was to go swimming, and Roberto and Ramon were similarly chilled out. Priority one was a place to leave my shit, priority two was a beer and some fish tacos, and then  maybe later I would worry about a place to sleep. Stefan was in aggresive search of some woman whose name he couldn’t quite pronounce– “SIGNORA BORA” was how it sounded, and he said it over and over and over again. When Roberto suggested we just hang out at a palapa on the beach for a while and deal with Signora Bora later, Stefan announced that he was not a lemon to be squeezed.

In the end we all ended up at the same place– a long thatch roofed building like every other long thatch roofed building on the beach, with some open sand for tents and a few nylon hammocks. The shack at the far end of the building produced decent food (and very cold drinks) from before we woke up until after we went to sleep, and in exhange for our purchases there me and Mina slept in hammocks for free. It was about as idyllic as it gets, I think– wake up at sunrise, walk across the white sand to the blue water for a pre-breakfast swim (just a few waves, no seaweed, crystal clear), eggs and coffee, more swimming, reading time, fish and Coca-Cola for lunch, beach, beer, beach, dinner, beer, and then back to the hammock at a reasonable hour. Then we would repeat. The sunsets looked like Corona advertisements, men playing shirtless soccer in the sand as the sun turned scarlet and slipped down below the palm trees. We stayed for three days, I got a lovely tan, and we agreed to meet up with Ramon, Roberto, and their friend Becca in D.F. the next weekend.

One more Stefan story– in addition to a faded sun tattoo between his shoulderblades and an unshakable expression of confusion, Stefan liked to talk. His English was passable, but prone to bouts of total insanity– over dinner one night, while discussing his travels, Stefan made a declaration: “The worst thing that can happen is that you leave your body”. You mean, the worst thing that can happen is that you die? We asked. No, he said. The worst that can happen is that you leave your body. Over the course of the next 36 hours, he repeated this phrase at least a dozen times in baffling variety of contexts. I still have no idea what he was talking about. He disappeared the morning we left– wandered down the beach in his tight little swim trunks with a canvas bag over his shoulder. He shouted hasta luego, we shouted it back, and we never saw him again. It’s possible he’s still somewhere on the beach having a eurotrash vision quest.

Back to the States on Thursday for a weekend of wedding festivities in San Diego. A lot of fantastic things have happened on this trip, and when I think about my first few weeks in Guatemala it feels like a thousand years ago. But I’m pretty exhausted, now, and I’m ready to head back. I’ve been thinking a lot about my cell phone, and about familiar refrigerators and hot water from the faucet. Vamos a ver.

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Filed under: mexico

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