I woke up early and wanted to do laundry so I didn’t get to the village of Barra de Potosi, my next destination, with sandy items filling my backpack. I found una lavendería downtown, got the process started and I headed to the Mercado where I got some fruit and a smoothie and admired the usual hustle and bustle. I came back to put my clothes in the dryer and while I was waiting, I watched how the laundress was folding the tablecloths – and when she went to check on something else, I began to fold laundry. I liked it! I told her- me gusta trabajar (I like to work).
Soon enough, it was time for me to catch the local bus that heads south to the airport and beyond. The local bus was a trip – the purple curtains and the music blaring definitely made it feel like I had stepped onto Ken Kesey’s Further bus. And then there was the kid who seemed to be helping getting people on and off the entire way – he was telling people on the bus when it was their stop and hanging out the door while we were driving, yelling and signaling to those on the curb.
I was let off at a village and was told there would be another bus, so I waited and didn’t see anything. I asked someone and they signaled that I follow them and they brought me to where the bus would be. So I stood on the sidewalk next to a parked truck and then he takes my hand to show me to get IN the back of the pickup truck, which has been converted to a covered wagon – crammed full with people talking rather quickly – this is rural Mexico after all.
I got checked in at Hotel Barra de Potosi, napped a bit, and walked a couple blocks to the end of the road (downtown?) and got a bite to eat- very good food, great salsa. The rest of the day was spent swimming, although there is less protection in this bay than in Zihuatanejo Bay, so I needed to be much more cautious. It was a Sunday and the beach was fairly busy because this is a popular spot for Mexican’s to vacation at. So I walked north and found a private spot to sunbathe and surf the waves (just long enough to cool off). I stayed in this private paradise until sunset, which was a show that set the sky ablaze. And it was actually the first one I’ve seen over the water on this trip.
By the time I walked back to the village, the beach restaurants were already closed. I was pretty ravenous actually, but the options were few to none. However in my wanderings through the dirt streets of the village, I lucked out and found a place serving food. It was likely that it was associated with a small family run hotel. I thought it was kind of sweet that it only had one thing on the menu – tacos de carnitas. You didn’t hear me complaining, I ate with gusto.
It was probably after 10pm when I began to walk back to hotel. Unfortunately the front gate was locked. I was going to walk back to the village, go behind the buildings on the beach side and then walk north again, hoping to enter the hotel by the lobby that opens up to the beach. En route, a couple asked me something about the hotel in Spanish and I demonstrated with my hands that it was locked. Their response was difficult for me to understand, but I gathered that they had the key, so I went back with them and they let me in.
I had gotten my fill and more of the sun, walking, and exercise today. It took very little effort for me to move to dreamland that night.
I awoke with the sun and I didn’t waste any time looking for kayaks. I followed the road into the village past the ocean and toward the lagoon and indeed, there were some restaurants that also sported kayaks for rent.
I spent the next couple of hours paddling around the lagoon. I saw the occasional fisherman casting his net, but overall, it was just the fish jumping and the birds flying – a very tranquil morning. Once I got back to shore, the rest of the day idly passed with me eating at the local restaurants that border the lagoon or ocean, getting coconut water (always better than bottled water!), body surfing in the waves, strolling down the beach, resting in the hammocks that are part of the restaurants, and sunbathing.
Can you tell that little Mexican villages are big time into la pura vida (the pure life). No to do lists, never a sense of urgency. If it doesn’t get done today, it will get done mañana. If it doesn’t get done manana, it will get done next week. Hey, what’s the rush? You are living in paradise!
I was doing better than I expected in a village where there was no (or close to it) English spoken. People were patient and did their best to communicate slowly and with their hands. And yet, there is always the moment when you wish you spoke the language, so you didn’t end up being the butt of the locals’ jokes as The Clueless American. Although I don’t actually mind that I gave everyone a good laugh and was the butt of their joke.
I was at one restaurant for over an hour and all I bought was one fresh coconut. I spent the rest of the time listening to the music and swaying in the hammock. The waiter was even kind enough to split the coconut open, scoop out the meat, and slice it and serve it to me with toothpicks and hot sauce – which was a new coconut preparation for me.
I asked to use the bathroom. All went well. Until I couldn’t flush it. I just jiggled the handle and it didn’t catch. I did see a big black tank (maybe 200 gallons) of water outside, so I took the plastic bowl sitting in there and filled up the square tank that would hold water in an American toilet. Nothing.
I definitely didn’t want to be the rude American that spent a good amount of time there, barely buying anything and then leaving them with a plumbing issue to take care of. So I walked out and announced to a few people “No sabe trabajar el baño”. I figured that probably was not the grammatically correct way to say that I don’t know how to work the bathroom, but they understood what I meant. A frail old man walked with me and showed me the big black tank with the plastic bowl in it. I took a scoop of the water and demonstrated trying to put the water in the holding tank. He shook his head and headed for the bathroom. I tried to stop him, but he was a trooper. Anyway, he simply threw water in the bowl itself and then the toilet magically flushed. No problemo! Mucho gracias!
I later learned that the toilets flush via gravity. So for my future reference, as well as yours, to flush a toilet in a developing nation, just pour water in the bowl! This incident totally reminded me of when I was in Italy and I couldn’t figure out how to flush the toilet. After a week or so, I finally figured it out (and realized other people had been flushing it for me and I thought it got done by some mystical force). And when I was retelling the story to a friend in what I thought was a restaurant that nobody spoke English, the Italian waitress started cracking up.
Anyway, these little adventures in simple things about which we thought we knew everything we needed to know, are part of what makes travel a learning experience. And they are also very humbling.
I woke the next morning, knowing I had half a day to enjoy before I stepped on that big metal bird that was to take me back to Oregon. I did another kayaking sojourn. Although the scenic mountains are the same and the birds and fish and mangroves are the same, each kayak ride is unique. I believe it has to do with my mood and how I am interacting with the environment. In short, it’s not something I would tire of, because the mix of familiarity and uniqueness, creates some special moments.
I ate lunch at what I determined was the best restaurant on the beach (the pescado was outstanding). I had befriended the waiter who was the only person I had met at Barra de Potosi who spoke English. I asked about why some of the food was outstanding and some of it was not particularly tasty. He didn’t know exactly, but said that the chef at this place really loved what he did and we determined that if the chef infused the food with love, then surely the results would be incredibly flavored food.
Hotel Barra de Potosi had quieted down since the weekend and I spent a bit of time sitting in the lobby which opens up to the ocean. From there, I was able to blog and watch the sun shift in the sky while I listened and watched the waves come crashing in. I felt peaceful and psychically restored in this corner of the earth.