Fernando and Jerry didn’t notice when I slid off my bench and wandered off to inspect our surroundings. The trailer park sprawled over a half block of level, tree-studded land between two boulevards. Huatulco, a sleepy backwater tourist destination, didn’t have much traffic and sounded far away. Our host’s wife had taken their older son to his school for an event, and Jerry had charge of the newborn baby—a pickled-looking, week old girl sleeping in a portable cradle on the table. My heart clenched. This father toked bowl after of bowl of potent dope. What about the tiny life? Even their abode, an old travel trailer, was too small for a family of four.
I listened to the birds in the trees and watched a couple of hens peck around deserted picnic tables. Jerry’s homestead lay near one of the streets and I noticed few people on the sidewalk, but one group caught my attention. A mother hurried several children past the park, around the next corner and out of sight. It wouldn’t have been noteworthy, but on their tails came an aroma lacing the salty air I found both familiar and alarming.
“Do you smell that?” I asked the men.
“Mota,” replied Fernando and gestured an offering with the pipe.
“No, thanks. I mean that chemical smell. What is it?” I looked over my shoulder toward the street again. A dense fog-like cloud enveloped the street, billowing toward us, and my tongue salivated with a greasy taste. What was it? Some sick Halloween joke?
Jerry looked blank for a beat as the drone of a plane approached us, “Get in your bus. Close the windows and cover your faces!” He grabbed the baby and bolted to the door of his trailer. “Don’t come out for at least forty-five minutes,” he shouted and slammed the door.
The bug bomb slithered closer. Fernando appeared confused. He hadn’t understood the man’s directive delivered in English and didn’t realize that we were being fumigated. I grabbed Parsley by the scruff of her neck and pushed her into the combi, pulling Fernando in after me, “Veneno, poison!” I grabbed some towels, dampened them with bottled water and wrapped our heads.
The closed bus heated up into a stagnant swamp of sweat and dog breath. I feared that Parsley would die. Her eyes looked dull; she panted heavily and slobbered all over the towel I held on her snout.
An hour and a half later, the air cleared and the day returned to its warm placidity. We clambered out of the bus. The poison left a slick over everything it touched. Dead insects littered the table and ground. I saw a dead bird and I wanted to leave. Fernando wanted another toke, and knocked on Jerry’s door, but the American refused to answer. “Thanks for the tokes—we’re outta here.”
What kind of town poisoned its air and citizens? A town that hosted Club Med—that’s what kind.