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Looking out my Backdoor: I'm not there; I'm here


I like to mix my metaphors. Images impossible evolve. In partnership with Jim I bought a pig-in-a-poke, a hot tub that wasn’t working when we bought it.

Between Jim’s persistence and Josue’s electrical knowledge, said pig works like a hot-diggity-dog. To me, it’s a gift of finest sensibilities. Never look a gift horse in the mouth. Our horse on pig’s trotters didn’t have a full set of teeth; no matter, easily (cheaply) resolved.

With tub fully functioning, precipitating daily dips, I discovered it best to wait until the sun went down to indulge. The UV index here hits the extreme zone daily. Which led to want/need for an umbrella. Explored options via internet. Said umbrella that would work properly cost five times cost of tub, which was almost free. Sheesh.

Leo and I put heads together and chewed our brains. Several of the restaurants in town have open courtyards with an overhead canopy of a mesh-material. Might that work?

Three days later Leo installed my sombra canopy. It’s perfect. Total cost of $55. And it shades my two south windows, thus keeping my casita much cooler. I indulged in shady afternoon dips (as opposed to burning sun splashes).

Purely on a whim, the other day I boarded the posh autobus from Zapopan and ran away to Mazatlan. Even now, I’m not sure my motivation to leave perfection, a working tub, new shade, garden growing like Jack’s magic beans, sunshine days, rainy nights, to country of high humidity and scorching temperatures.

Because I could? Because I love Mazatlan. Because …

This trip has already had an ominous beginning. I’m almost afraid to leave my hotel room. Almost superstitious.

Ominous. Our bus was delayed by four unusual security stops along the highway.

I arrived to a packed lobby with a thousand-thousand persons, all checking in. My name made the bottom of the list. Two hours later, hot, tired and shaky, I entered my room and collapsed. Threw open the windows and turned off the air-icer.

Went to bed at 6:30. Pitiful, I admit. Phone rang in middle of the night. Woke me from dead sleep. “Please close your windows. It’s storming.”

Indeed. Spectacular lightning over the ocean. The wind had whipped my curtains out the window, flapping in a wild attempt to sail the seas to China.

I complied and collapsed back into bed. All I could think was I’d have to replace shredded curtains. I was too tired to inspect them. That would take, what, two minutes. No, I chose half-sleep worry.

Once fully awake, in the morning light, I inspected for damage. Curtains were intact. I delivered a small propina for the night manager, in gratitude for middle-of-night wake up. Cheaper than new curtains.

Then I sold my soul to a time-share presenter in exchange for a week of internet which would have cost me the equivalent of three months service at home. Sheesh. I managed to squiggle through without too much slime.

This is not my ideal holiday. I headed to my room to recuperate.

Only to find the elevators in the lobby were all out of order. There are four elevators to the Tower. And one set of stairs. I had chosen to stay at the big fancy place.

As I contemplated trudging 18 floors of stairs with a cane, a maid descended to the lobby. She opened the door. Several of us rushed onto the elevator and ascended, gratefully. Am I the only one seeing a pattern?

I had my friend Carlos take me to Callecita for carnitas de atun, a favorite meal in a favorite place. On the way back we just missed by minutes a huge slab of window-wall glass falling from the second story of a bank building onto a white SUV. If I were superstitious … .

I worked a system of open windows, curtains to the walls, chairs in corners, with low risk of storm damage. In bed early. Dreamed of soaking in my tub.

No further mishaps. As I said, I’m not superstitious; I’m not.

Thunder rumbles the skies. Rain has come, has gone, will come again. It’s a good day to hang out under a palapa on the beach, contemplate the seas, book nearby, stay out of elevators and off the streets.


Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem but spent most of her adult life out of state. She returned to see the Hi-Line with a perspective of delight. After several years back in Harlem, Ashton is seeking new experiences in Etzatlan, Mexico. Once a Montanan, always. Read Ashton’s essays and other work at montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com. Email [email protected]


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