Things arise here almost as by design.
The surf is rough outside the hotel, and on the third day I walk barefoot in the soft sand to the calmer west end of the beach. It’s still crowded with holiday visitors. Teenage boys are surfing with skim boards, and there are a lot of them. Heedless, I walk into the waves. A loose board hits my right big toe, cutting a jagged gash just under the nail. I rush out of the water, and face the skimboard’s owner, who simply shrugs. I go back along the beach, walking stiffly with my foot flexed in an effort to stem the flow of blood. It’s a really deep gash, hard to clean. Two women at the hotel help me bandage it. And I’m furious with myself! Now I can’t swim or hike! All the next day I rest, keeping the foot elevated, and I send myself healing energy. When I hold my hand over the wound, my toe pulsates.
For a long time I’ve sent healing energy to other people—whether it works, I don’t know, but the intention is there. This is the first time I’ve thought to send it to myself.
Nevertheless, two days later the toe is red, swollen, infected.
I limp a few blocks to a doctor’s office, which is in a corner of the courtyard of his large house. He gives me antibiotics and pills for inflammation. Olga, who runs a nearby restaurant, offers me arnica leaves from her garden. Drinking the tea, she says, will help.
My toe heals enough after a few days so that I can swim, and after a week I can walk without much pain. The injury is metaphorically a pebble, which now I have the leisure to isolate, examine, and polish. Why was I so heedless of my safety?
I reflect on the need to nurture my body, protect it as I would a child’s.
Again, the emptiness of the day, having time and space, helps produce clarity.
Despite the fact that this is the tourist season, the town is still comparatively slow-paced. At the corner grocery, a young couple nestle against each other behind the cash register as they watch a tv novela. The woman rises from her husband’s lap to help me look for candles. In the tiny one-room post office, Ishmael waves away my consternation when I realize I don’t have enough money for the postage stamps. Bring the money next time, he says, handing me the stamps.
My friend Michelle, a French-Canadian woman, lives a few miles north along the coast in a big house only a dozen or so steps from a bay surrounded by mountains. She is a recent widow. “In a sense,” she says of her husband, “He gave his life for me. I feel his spirit. When we built this place, he said he felt he would die here.” She is a robust, cheerful woman of great warmth who instantly attracts people, and she earns a living with tarot readings. But she says, “I need to be quiet. Since I have been living here alone, when I go out with people ... when I go to a city...it’s like being without skin. Nine months of the year, after the tourist season ends, I read and write. I’m alone... When the full moon shines, the light is so bright I can almost read by it.” She reads voraciously, and is particularly well-versed in nineteenth century European literature. I give her my copy of Dostoievsky’s The Gambler, which she says she’s been trying to find it for years.
Another day I visit the city of Colima, high in the mountains. It is a colonial city, with a calmness that is reminiscent of another time. There is a university, but few foreigners. I have visions of living here alone for a few months. In this place I think I could slow down, write, think, and absorb Spanish language.
Back at the hotel, a noisy group has gathered next door. It disrupts the mood of Colima. But later that night, musicians gather in the courtyard: a guitarist, a drummer, and some of us dance.
The days pass, and there is more music, more festivity in the evenings.
I have only a few more days here. In my mind is the nightmare image of a room heaped with papers, a flowing cascade of paperwork. At home there is always the sense of more I need to do. Cluttered time. Cluttered urban space. But here time is spacious, the air is soft and warm, and the sound of waves lulls me.
Causes Maria Espinosa Supports
Amnesty International, KPFA, anything to ameliorate homelessness and to make shelters more livable