Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mexico Diary (Part II)

January 12

There is a relaxed attitude about smoking here, which I, coming from the US, find at first alarming and then incredibly seductive. Wow, I think, noting the clean ashtrays at tables of restaurants and poolside lounges, I could just light up and no one would ask me to leave! I saw a man shepherding his family through an outdoor restaurant with a cigarette in his hand. You just NEVER see anything like this at home anymore. You have this sudden jolt, like, "Hey, he can't…how come no one is…" and then realize no one gives a rip.

This combined with all the drinking we've been doing (yet staying sober, I swear), has been making me desperate for a cigarette. I think about it all the time. I pass a super deli (Cabo's equivalent of a corner store) and think, I could just nip in there and get one.

Finally, this evening after the 24/7 family time came to be a bit much and I saw an opportunity to slough the children for a few minutes, I offered brightly to go in search of swim diapers for Audrey.

Matt was instantly suspicious. "Where are you going?"

"I want to check out the super deli off the lobby," I said. "Get us some limes. We need limes. It'll be great! I’ll get some swim diapers so you can stop worrying about poop in the pool, and we can have proper margaritas tonight. OK? Can I go?"

"Wait," he said, raising himself up on an elbow from his spot on the suite sofa. The kids were enjoying a post-dinner movie on the laptop. "You're going over there just to get limes?"

Exasperated, I said, "Look, I just want to go out for a minute, Ok?" I cupped my hands around my mouth and mouthed, "I want to smoke."

I have hidden my intermittent smoking life from the children thus far, which is good because they do know what smoking is. They've seen my parents do it a hundred times and asked me why people do it, is it okay, etc. We take a firm stand that it is dirty, unhealthy, and not okay.

"You want to smoke?" Matt yelped. The kids looked up from "Cinderella."


"Mommy why do you want to smoke?" asked Jonah.

"I don't! I think you misunderstood me, Matt," I said, glaring at him hard. "Anyway, off I go in search of diapers and limes. Good bye!"

When I came back later with limes and cigarettes (alas, no diapers), I helped Matt put the kids to bed and then poured us some really terrible homemade margaritas. Out on the balcony I sat with my drink and stubbornly lit a cigarette. I closed the glass door behind me. I took a wonderful burning drag.

The glass door slid open. Dang. One whole second for my nicotine-alcohol-solitude buzz.

"Can I join you?" Matt said, pulling out a chair.

"Are you sure you want to?" I asked. "I'm smoking."

"I don't understand your attitude," he said.

"I know." Pause. "I made you a drink."

We sat on the white deck chairs and watched the scene on the darkened beach: a few straggling couples, some lit torches near the steps to the resort. A smattering of boats rocked in the bay, barely visible but for the lights on their masts.

And it was nice for awhile.

January 13

The music here is categorically bad, except for a great, truly professional band we heard last night at dinner. As we waited for our food in a dim, catacomb-like room replete with walls of candles, two men set up chairs in a corner near the kitchen and began working on a samba. One patted some bongos between his thighs and the other strummed his guitar and crooned sweetly like Joao Gilberto. They leaned toward each other, watching the other's eyes and hands. Every now and then they'd stop abruptly and discuss something, then pick up again.

During dinner, they were joined by a stand-up bass player and another guitarist. A rollicking Latin blast ensued. To me, it felt like sweet relief. The kids clapped. I snapped. Audrey high-chair danced. I swayed a bit while nibbling my explosively hot seafood-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapenos. Pretty soon the kids and I drifted over to be in the presence of the strings and bongos and passionate male voices. Jonah allowed me to take him into my arms and spin him around a few times. Audrey bounced and smiled hugely. For their part, the men seemed delighted to have an audience (the rest of the diners were ignoring them completely). They all turned and directed their voices right to us. The bass player, a heavy mustachioed man with a scarred face (and one of the few locals I've seen with long enough limbs to manage a stand-up bass) laughed at Audrey's antics and made crazy faces at her.

Later I sent Jonah with a bunch of pesos over to their tip jar. I was quite happy to pay for being in their light for while. Because in the morning, the piano man who performs (badly) on the breakfast patio will bore us all to death with "Moon River."

This morning, by the pool, I watched a silver-haired woman glide past the pool's waterfall, limbs elegantly performing the inelegant breast stroke. From the patio came the troubled strains of "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The pianist missed a note. The lady swimmer kept swimming. I turned over on my chaise longue.

After a life of travel anxiety, I think I am getting the hang of vacation.


Rose said...

Which one of those lovely ladies is you????

susie said...

Ha, ha.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't ever thought about the 24/7 nature of childcare on a vacation - in comparison with time at home which includes preschool, nanny time etc until our recent trip...while the vacation was great the 24/7 thing was enough to make me want to take up smoking! Lecia

Rose said...

It is soooo 24/7. It's enough to make me not want to do it with a 2 & 4 year old...I just can't do it yet....going to maui in April, kids are staying with Gramma. I almost bought thier tickets but chickened more year...