20. Two Roads Diverged


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We picked up our towels, suntan lotion, books, slipped on our flipflops and started the trek to the south end of the beach. The sand felt coarse and the tide frothy on my feet at the tide line. I picked up tiny limpet shells and colored stones.  Empty and clean, few shells, pieces of driftwood or flotsam lined the intertidal zone. This was a deserted beach, quiet except for the surf and the crunch of our footfalls. There might not have been homesteads along it. There weren’t any pangas. Didn’t the people who lived on the beach go to it? My sense of unreality grew stronger. Nearing the structure we’d seen from the north side of the cove, I realized that it sat empty, too. A former beach restaurant definitely closed for beer. I plopped down in the warm sand just beyond a tiny cliff carved by the waves.

“Nothing there. I think I’ll catch a few more rays before lunch.” I said, spreading out my towel.

“We’re leaving.” Sam’s voice sounded petulant.

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I hopped up, ran into the surf, dove beneath a breaking wave and paddled in the cool swells. I was too tired to think, but had I considered my situation, I might have realized that I was giving up the old blackened pot for a raging forest fire. What was that I read in some self-help book? If you feel like you’re on fire when you meet, you probably are?

Fernando joined me in the water, but we kept our distance. I wasn’t ready to slap Sam upside the head with it. I saw Sam wander up the beach into the shade with Parsley and swam to shore. Fernando bobbed beyond the breakers for a few more minutes and returned to his towel. I stretched out on my stomach after slathering myself in sunscreen and drifted into a nap.

The sun had shifted lower in the sky by the time I woke up. Fernando lay next to me, still sleeping. My skin burned a bit. I raised my head, looking for Sam and Parsley, but the palapa was empty. I flipped over and reached out to wake Fernando. Before I realized it, we embraced each other and began kissing like teenagers.Unknown

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” It was Sam crossing the sand at a near lope, Parsley happily bounding beside him.

Busted! Fernando and I flew apart and sat up. Where had Sam come from? He was spying on us, well, not hard to do—we were right out on the beach.

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“You think I don’t know what you’re up to? I’ve been watching you carrying on under my nose,” he said, spittle flying from his mouth as he loomed over me, hands in fists. “I’m leaving. Get up and drive me to Oaxaca.” He turned and stormed off in the direction of my VW bus.

Sam wasn’t going to get very far unless he stole my ride, because I wasn’t about to drive the eight hours to Oaxaca with him.

!Se va! He’s leaving,” I said and grinned. I suddenly felt elated. A great weight lifted from my chest, and I threw my arms around my new novio.

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Fernando and I sat on the beach for another hour. Slowly we wended our way to the señora’s compound to get cleaned up and see about dinner. My combi was right where I left it next to Gerardo’s, but Sam and Gerardo were nowhere in sight. I unlocked the combi to fix Parsley’s dinner. Sam’s suitcase was gone, but he’d left all his dirty clothes flung around the bus. While I gathered up the dinner things, Fernando wandered the compound looking for Gerardo. Eventually Gerardo appeared from the señora’s kitchen.

Hola, Gerardo. ¿Qué onda?” Fernando greeted his friend.

“You fucking slimeball,” he yelled, rushing Fernando.

“¿Qué pasó?” Fernando sidestepped the swing Gerardo took at his nose. The momentum rocked Gerardo off his trajectory and he stumbled, almost falling on his face. Fernando steadied him, but Gerardo shrugged him off.

“Her boyfriend left—took the bus back to Oaxaca. Now you’re leaving me and going with her? I saw her first.” Gerardo’s voice rose. He shrieked,”¡Ladrón! Thief.”

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The men shouted at each other in rapid fire Spanish I couldn’t understand. I figured that Gerardo had a jealous hissy fit. He should have driven Sam back to Oaxaca.

We ate a silent, tense meal. After dinner, I settled down with my book and Fernando went to shmooze the señora. Peeking around the combi, I could see him gesticulating and hear angry words. It didn’t appear to be Fernando’s evening.

Soon he was back, attempting to explain that the owner was throwing us out because my husband had left and Gerardo blamed Fernando, or I think that’s what he said. It didn’t matter. We would be out of there first thing in the morning and I was probably driving back to Mexico City, about two days away. I’d better get some sleep.

I went to bed in my bus with my dog. Fernando returned to the Orange combi. In the morning, I paid the woman for our luxurious stay and packed up my gear. Fernando and Gerardo yelled at each other some more. What a mess. I didn’t know if Fernando would come with me or not, but as I made my final check that all was properly stowed and battened down, he tossed his bag into the back and slid into the driver’s seat.

“Let’s go to Huatulco.”

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