#33

I noticed the heat first.

I was overdressed, because I get cold on planes. “I’m getting some water,” I shout to V as she looks for our driver. We booked a car transfer from the airport to the house we rented via Airbnb –we didn’t want to take the bus.

The driver was friendly, chatting to V with her excellent but slightly broken Spanish (“Give me a few days, it will come back” (it did)). I fell asleep, but woke up as we were trying to find the house we rented. I called the owner and passed the phone to the driver so she could give him directions. There are no street signs yet in the newer part of town, although newer is probably not the right word.

Flor was waiting at the gate and led us into the compound – as I started calling it. It had a stone wall with barbed wire around the top, a few bikes parked inside and some wild tropical plants, with leaves of ravaging colors going everywhere. I saw a spider, heard a few birds in the trees, it was a silent, slice of paradise pie.

There’s an energy here - in this part of the world that’s palpable because of the heat & humidity. A zeal, a robustness for life that gently guides. Where does it come from?

It took me awhile to give in to all this -- we’ve been here for what seems like ages, but in reality it’s only been about three months and V loves it. The colors, the smells, the friendly faces.

V: it’s everything I want – everything I’ve wanted – it’s just so good.

Me: You are so vague, yet so clear sometimes.

Were down at Batey's Bar, Keri is there already with a drink, talking to a table of Germans in town for a few days, all totally sunburnt and really drunk. Miriam is singing tonight, Beatles covers with Mateo the Italian on the guitar – he’s not so great, but we all pretend. This has been our Thursday nights for a while, or since we met Mateo at the beach one day and he invited us to come and listen – the margaritas are amazing, made with freshly squeezed sugar cane juice. Pedro behind the bar knows us and the one they call Gecko, the owner, sometimes has us babysit his kid, Mia, even if she’s already 8. We often bring her to the bar, which pisses him off, but he gets over it quick. It’s hard to be mad in the tropics, he says.

V is looking really sexy tonight. When she gets tan, her skin gets so dark and brown, her blue eyes glow with an ethereal color – a luminance. The color of the sea? It’s such a cheap metaphor, but true, yes. I tell her in her ear: you look sexy tonight. She gives me the stop it, your embarrassing me smile, and then a cocked eyebrow.

Blackbird – that’s what Mia is singing. I think they’ll take a break soon. It took me awhile to realize she and Mateo were lovers – what do you live in a hole, V says. I say no, but I keep my head in the clouds.

Mia & Mateo stop and come over. Hi you two, more drinks?

Mia is never one to not offer to buy a round and I’m never one to refuse. Yes, please – Blackbird was sounding good man.

Yeah, I think it’s coming along, thanks.

I’m ½ way into a 3rd margarita – V’s on her 3rd watermelon tequila thing – the name is something Spanish I can’t remember. We didn’t really eat dinner, just some tortillas and avocado, so we feel kind of tipsy –

V: want to go? I’m sick of the Beatles.

Yes

At home, V’s feet are so hot I rub cans of cold beer from the fridge on them. Her eyes roll back and we laugh hysterically. It’s strange and funny but we don’t have any ice.

Up and down her foot, and I move on to her legs, up her brown thigh to her polka dot underwear, and back down. She can’t stop laughing. After she says that’s enough I crack open one and we both drink ½ in one gulp.

The fan’s on high.

Mosquito net down, lights off, jungle noises outside. The moonlight shines in.

Tulum.