The laughter of fishermen woke me at 7:00 A.M., the camper already a slow cooking oven in the heat. A sheen of sweat covered my skin. I stretched and pulled myself out of the sheets to look through the no-see-um netting Velcroed into the door opening. The edge of the bay lay about seventy-five feet away. Tiny waves foamed onto the shore where the jolly pod of fishermen clustered, cleaning early catches, mending nets, or preparing to launch the green, yellow and red pangas. Catcalling and laughter between boats drifted my way, but gulls, squabbling over bits of discarded fish guts, drowned out the fishermen’s conversations with their grating calls.
Four or five stout women in shiny dresses appeared, hefting gigantic blue enamel pots and baskets laden with steaming tortillas wrapped in bright napkins. They began to dish up breakfast for their men into clay bowls. The rich smell of tortillas and roasted chilies got my stomach to rumbling.
Sam sat in the shade in one of the folding oak “archaeologist” chairs and watched the scene. “It’s about time you woke up.”
My shoulders tensed. “It’s barely seven.”
“I’m ready for breakfast. C’mon. Hurry up.”
“Did you make coffee?” I asked as I hauled myself out of the camper and into the cooler, dappled shade of the coconut palms.
Sam hadn’t bothered—why did I ask? I grabbed my towel from the locker and ambled off to Las Palmas’ bathhouse.
Luxuriating in the warm stream of water, I complimented myself on my ability to pick a park and thought about the trailer park I’d stayed at in Puerto Vallarta.
My bus had limped into town after losing a shock absorber on my first harrowing trek down a drenched and treacherous mountain road, and I hadn’t taken the time to check-out the facilities before paying the tariff—triple what I paid elsewhere. It turned out the park was located just south of a pig farm and the breeze off the Pacific blew through the sty into my windows. To make matters worse, there was not another soul camping there. If I hadn’t been so tired from the arduous drive from Mazatlán, I might have noticed the lack of company and the barnyard smell, but I paid the twelve dollars and went to bed.
In the morning when I went to the bathhouse for a shower, I found, as the night attendant had claimed, the water was hot and would last as long as I would, but he neglected to mention the reptiles, insects, and mad dogs who would be bathing with me. That shower room was filthy. It was the first hot shower I’d encountered since Tucson ten days before, and I couldn’t touch anything—including the water. I learned my lesson—check first—and then moved to a hotel.
“The showers are great, Sam. This park was a good choice.”
“I’d be more comfortable in a hotel in Huatulco. Can’t you hurry up?”
How had Sam managed to survive without a Hilton in the jungles of the Peten while he chased drug runners for the DEA?
I pulled the embroidered drop-waist ropa típica sundress, bought in Oaxaca City after my suitcases were stolen, over my head and we left Las Palmas to rustle up some breakfast.
The orange combi glowed through the palm trees in a shaft of sunlight as we passed.