At the beginning of February I left Alaska, a place I had grown to love and feel to be more my home than anywhere else on earth after being there for ten years. I left her for the hazy allure of Mexico, an anonymous little spot on the map south of Puerto Vallarta, to be specific. Here I am sandwiched between the fishing villages of Boca de Tomatlin and Mismaloya on the Mexican equivalent of California’s Hwy 1. I live in a little studio apartment carved out of a cliff and reinforced with concrete and tile with the Pacific ocean lapping at my balcony and the jungle-draped mountain rising sharply behind me. There is nothing in between except a two lane road, a few other similarly precarious homes, and me.
I’ve been here for three weeks and patterns are beginning to emerge.
Every morning I wake up at eight in the morning when the sun comes over the mountain behind me and the water taxis start slapping the waves back and forth from Puerto Vallarta to Boca and Yelapa carrying tourists and fishermen and sight-seers. By 8:30 or 9:00 the neighbor upstairs is stirring and she moves some mysterious heavy furniture item across the floor and the sounds of breakfast—dishes rattling softly and water running—trickle down the cliff from her open windows into mine.
I get up and begin my own rituals of making coffee (two ice cubes, one teaspoon condensed milk) and checking to see if the iguanas are out yet. Around this time some heavy, musky floral aroma makes an appearance on the scene, mingling with the sea water and whatever other olfactory flotsam and jetsam happens to be on the air at the moment and I think it must be the neighbor’s body wash when she showers. Not bad, but a little loud for me.
Feed dog, water dog, consider the contents of my refrigerator, walk dog.
Around 11:00 or 11:30 the pirate ship is out in the bay shooting off its cannons. How exciting that must be for the people on the ship, it must be so loud from there, and how sharply that contrasts to the way it’s become a regular punctuation of my day. The dog perks his ears and paces and I go back to work or study or whatever pointless preoccupation I have going on.
Around 2:30 or 3:00 the sun will start creeping onto my balcony at last and I check the cloud cover and consider my current state of sunburn, or lack thereof, and if all is in order I’ll take my studies out with the intention of reading and decreasing this Alaskan whitewash I wear. But I’ll probably just daydream, write a few notes, listen to whatever latest music is making me feel creative by proxy. This goes on for an hour or so, and I’m finally hungry and come in for some ice water while I cook an early dinner and work a bit with one eye on the horizon for the daily round of sunset pictures. (I’ll probably be out of space on my phone soon.)
After sunset I’ll walk the dog again and close up the big sliding glass door so the bugs don’t come in. I’ll have every intention of working some more, but the overhead lights in here at night—weak coiled fluorescents dangling from naked wires above the ceiling fans—are not very inspiring, so I’ll likely turn them off and work a bit by lantern before I give up and wash up for bed and fall asleep to some show on Amazon.
On Fridays we do laundry. On Saturday and Sunday we focus a bit more on school because deadlines and procrastination. One or two days per week we try to go to town for groceries and human contact. We feed the iguanas the not-really-bananas as often as possible.
Part of me is surprised that I’m ok with this routine, and I’m sure I won’t be happy like this forever…but for now it’s not bad at all.