We are sitting on wickedly reclining wooden chairs with our feet in the fine white sand. We are different now. Opposite is our brand new compatriot grinning and plying us shamelessly with margaritas on the rocks with salt. The brazen July sun is setting over a lazy Caribbean. Our Caribbean. But it wasn’t always this way.
Sometimes it’s just necessary to come clean, to take responsibility or to deftly shift blame for the things that happen. In this case the fault lies squarely on the shoulders of that beguiling, bewitching Mexico, a country altogether too colorful for it’s own good.
We were innocents, not young, but innocents. Innocents with a slowly gleaned sliver of savings gathering dust in our bank account. It was May and it was necessary to take our family away from a shy Colorado spring. We chose Mexico, but really, Mexico chose us.
We were level headed before we got there, in possession of as many faculties as we could muster over the turbulent, trying landscape of the years. We were level headed maybe a few days into the vacation, and then we lost it. It wasn’t a loud thing this losing, no crashing sound as it landed on the ground. More the whisper of stays loosening in a light breeze.
We didn’t know we’d lost it or what the ‘it’ was that had left us wide open. All that grew was a capacity for spontaneity, which, by its very nature, is hard to see coming.
Where we were exactly when it hit was on the warm paving of a curved road in Playa del Carmen on our strolling, heedless way into town.
“Lets just go in and see what they have,” Michel said, pointing at the local realtor’s office not quite hidden in amongst some riotous bougainvillea.
We stepped into the airconditioned office all sandaled and casual and were led immediately into the office of our grinning compatriot, Oswaldo. Of course.
Michel introduced the subject but then I took over and pointed to a spot behind the realtor’s head. We all stopped and turned to look at the white washed wall.
“Only if you have one of those,” I said. Strong voiced like Julia playing Erin Brokovich, but shorter.
They both knew what I was talking about. Next door was Villas Arqueologicas, subject of many swooning ‘if onlys’.
“If only we knew who stayed here. If only they’d rent these out. If only I knew who to contact to arrange that. If only…”
And the ‘how lucky’s’.
“How lucky these people are. How lucky to live here.”
“As a matter of fact”, Oswaldo said, and picked up a set of keys. We walked out the door, in through the next gate, round the pool and up the stairs. The doors were French and teak, and lots of them. I stepped in on my feet with no weight on them and fell in love.
Two days later we’d made an english offer to the spanish owners and they’d accepted, in spanish. That’s how you jump. How an alternative reality seeds and takes root. That’s how our feet are in the sand. We’re just back from the extraordinary experience of a bilingual closing in a foreign land. That’s how this is ours now; another life, another country, another language. Mexico made us do it.