Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Hurrah Caan

Hurrah Caan

Summer was beautiful, so many flowers. There were berries on the bushes. There were seeds in the grasses. Life was easy and Jacob was getting fat.
Jacob would get up when the sun peeked into his home behind the stove. Then he would go outside to find something to eat.
It was a hot day. Jacob could see huge black clouds above the trees.  
Kerry flew into the garden and landed on the big tree. This tree has a hole i it. Kerry looked into the hole, and he looked at Jacob. “Will you be hiding in this hole?” he asked.
Why would I hide in that hole, Jacob asked.
See the storm coming, Kerry said pointing to the big black clouds with his wing.
The cats are hiding under the house. The people are wrapping their houses in shutters. The birds are flying away from the storm or finding places to hide.
Jacob sniffed the air. He smelled something different. He smelled salt in the air. He smelled water in the air. He heard different sounds. The animals were quietly scurrying around, finding food and safe places to hide. The humans were banging on their homes and calling loudly to each other. Their voices were different. Something was different.
Jacob looked to Kerry. “What are you going to do?” he said.
Kerry said that he has a spot in the pigeon coop at the port. He came to check on what Jacob would do. He was looking for some seeds too.
Jacob said that he could stay in his little home behind the stove.
Kerry said that there would be a lot of wind and rain, and the water may come right into the house and fill his little home.
Jacob had never heard of such a thing.
Jacob looked up the tree. The hole was in the thickest branches. He decided to climb the tree and see what it was like.
When he got up to the hole, he noticed that there was a small opening that went a few centimeters into the tree, then a bigger space opened out.
It looked like something had lived there before because there was a small nest in the bottom of the hole.
Jacob stuck his head out of the hole. “Kerry, there is a nest in this hole.”
Kerry replied, “That is where I hatched. I lived there with my family until I had to fly away to live on my own. When my parents moved into the coop at the port near me, I thought that this hole would be a safe hiding place for you in the storms.
Jacob turned and went back into the hole. He stuck his head out again. He had a big smile on his face. Jacob sang a little song:
Here I am in a tree,
Oh, how safe I will be.
I’m so happy you thought of me.
We are friends, I can see.

Jacob thought of his friend Petey. He wondered what Petey was doing to get ready for the storm.
He ran down the tree, and over to Petey’s tree. He could hear Petey runny through the branches, jumping from one to the next. It was like he was flying in the trees.
Jacob sat on the ground and squeaked until Petey saw him. Petey jumped from branch to branch until he landed on the ground beside Jacob.
“What’s up Jacob?”
“Do you know that there is a storm coming?”
“Sure, that’s why I am gathering nuts. I will have lots of nuts. We can share them. ‘
‘I will be in the other tree. There is an old pigeon nest that Kerry was hatched in. I will stay there.”
“I can help you move food there if you would like," said Petey.
“So can I,” said Kerry.
Together the three friends collected berries and seeds. Jacob went to his home behind the stove and found some soft rags. He hauled them out to the yard, and Kerry flew them up into the tree.
Petey gnawed off a thick branch from the fir tree that covered the doorway perfectly.
This looked  like a wonderful place to stay high and dry. He would be safe from the storm.
It had been a very busy day. Kerry flew back to his coop. Petey crawled away into his den. Jacob climbed into his new tree house. It was time to rest.

Jacob dreamed that a big Osprey was flying overhead. He was afraid of the Osprey. She was carrying wet seaweed in her talons. Water was dripping from the seaweed.
Jacob said, “ Who are you?”
The Osprey said, ”I am Hurrah Caan.” She turned and flew towards the harbor.
Jacob woke up and went to the entrance this hole. He heard the roaring wind.
He stuck his nose between the branches covering the sky, protecting him inside.
Immediately he was soaking wet. His fur was wet, his ears were full of water, his whiskers dripped water like a leaky faucet.
Jacob looked up into the sky. The sky was black. Branches had fallen to the ground. He could not see Petey’s tree. He could see no stars, he could see clouds swirling overhead. He could see bolts of lightning shooting across the sky.
He tried to climb onto the branch outside of the hole. The wind was so strong that it blew him right back into the hole.
He crawled safely back into the hole. He thought about his friends and family.
He started to sing a song.
Oh, I am sitting here all alone,
Safely hiding in this tree.
I would  prefer to be at home,
With friends surrounding me.

He closed his eyes. He listened to the wind. He listened to the breath of the earth, he listened to his own breath. He heard the music of the storm. He heard the music in himself. He felt safe.
Jacob suddenly was falling. He was falling out of another dream. In this dream, he was floating on the ocean.

He heard nothing. There was no roaring wind, there was no rolling thunder. everything was quite. He stuck his nose out of the hole. There were broken branches everywhere. It was a good thing that he was small, he could fit between the branches.
He climbed down the tree, and ran over to Petey’s tree. He could see Petey climbing out of his den. Petey was safe too, ‘
Together they walked around Maggie’s garden. Many bushes were uprooted. Many flowers had blown away. They looked up into the sky. There was a circle of beautiful stars overhead. There were dark black clouds circling around.
“The stars look like they are an eye in the center of those black clouds.“
“I dreamed that the wind is called Hurrah Caan.“
“Look you can see the moon inside that eye.“

The wind started to blow again. The trees were bending over again, the leaves were flying again. Petey scurried to his den. Jacob raced to his tree house. he pulled the branches over the door, and hunkered down to wait out the storm.
He had seen what Hurrah Caan could do. He knew that he and Petey were safe. He fell asleep again. He was flying. He wasn’t on Kerry’s back. Hurrah Caan was carrying Jacob in her talons. She was looking for her nest. She flew to the beach. There were many fish lying on the shore. Hurrah Caan dropped Jacob and picked up a big fish. Then she flew away to her nest.
Jacob woke up. He was wet. The nest was wet. The wind had blown the branches from the door, and the wind had driven the rain into the tree house. Jacob climbed out.
The sky was blue. the birds were singing. they were flying from here to there. Petey was perched on the branch outside his hole, eating some nuts.
Jacob looked around and thought that everything was just like normal. Then he looked into Maggie’s Garden. It looked like a monster had been throwing plants everywhere.
Daddy and Maggie were standing beside the garden talking. Daddy picked up some of the Maggigolds and cradling them gently placed them back into the dirt, patting them to make sure that they would be Ok
Jacob went to his home behind the stove. There was mud blocking the hole in the wall. Jacob moved the dirt away and waded into his home behind the stove It was wet there too. He went out into the kitchen. Daddy, Mommy, and Maggie were having some hot chocolate and speaking quietly.
“We were really lucky in this storm. It blew over quickly and there wasn’t any major damage. We had a little flooding, and the garden is messed up.
Let's get together and clean up the yard and fix the garden.
And that is what they did.
Jacob went out to the Garden. He looked up when he heard Kerry coo. “Kerry. you are safe. I am so happy.” said Jacob.
“I am happy that you and Petey are safe too. “
“Wasn't that an exciting storm?”
“It sure, now lets get together and help clean up Petey's den, the tree house and your home behind the stove. “
And that is what they did.

Friday, December 19, 2014

141219 Daddy was Dying.

How does that usually work? Oh yeah!
You dance with him at your wedding, you hold his hand as your first born graduates from school, you call him for advice on which stock to hold on to, you dance with him at his 59th anniversary with your beautiful mother. Then he finally dies suddenly in his sleep. Right?  Isn’t that the way that it is supposed to be?
You’re not supposed to stand at his bedside when you are 12 and watch him go blurry. You’re not supposed to see him with tubes coming out of his orifices. Someone tells you that the tube coming out of his nose has the chocolate ice cream that he ate a little while ago.
Well, for me … I got chance #2.
I didn’t hold his hand as my first born graduated; he wasn’t there when I graduated. He wasn’t there when my sister graduated. He was dead. He was 6’ under the ground. He was with his parents in Mount Royal cemetery. He wasn’t dancing the brides dance for anyone.
I was 12. I was 12. That’s way too young to be a semi-orphan. Mom did ok. She held it together, she introduced us, my sister and I, to things we never would have experienced if he had lived.
It’s a tough choice. Would you prefer the life that you lived or one with a father… not!
The choice is sublimely simple. I would have chosen to have daddy teach me how to waltz. I would have chosen to have daddy give me away at my wedding. I would have chosen…
We have no choices in life. We have preferences. Preference? Jeepers! How can I influence the wind? I am not a butterfly in China. I am a woman here. My choices were robbed by cancer; my choices were then molded by a woman who was missing balance, her partner.
How do we manage after such a loss?
I don’t know, here I am almost 67, and I am still missing daddy, still missing the lessons, how do I relate to men?
Daddy, I know that you are there, how do I choose the right man to be with? I love being alone, and I prefer to be with another. I love my body, and I prefer to share it with another. Is it too late? Will I have to wait for my next incarnation? Phooey, I might be one of those aborted fetuses. I prefer, get that, prefer to know, experience, test, what is happening now. What the bleep is happening now, anyway?
I will always be the daughter of you, a man who died at 42 with 2 young daughters. That is our life agreement. What else is a part of this agreement? Am I always to be a free radical?
Creator, me energy, whole world hologram, please find a male who will anchor me in a positive energy, who will share a loving space with me.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Why Did We Bring Him?

Why Did we Bring Him?
It was supposed to be a great week-end with the family. She hadn’t seen any of that side of the family for many years. It would be great to see Aunt Mona and Uncle Max. Mona and Max had 4 kids, the youngest were twin boys. Now Cousin Shane was getting married.
They climbed into the car, a thousand miles to their destination. They were excited to be going on a road trip, even though it was winter.
The baby, Benny, was sound asleep in the back seat; the sound of the car was soothing to him. These are the times when breast feeding can come in really handy, no worrying about formula or bottles; milk, supplied at the right temperature, in convenient reusable packaging. Caroline relaxed, Benny would awaken and nurse. The car would continue to roll down the highway. Horace would be satisfied.
Night came, it got dark. Something changed after the last stop. Benny would not settle like he usually did. Caroline put him to the breast, and still Benny would not settle, crying like a chorus of fussy babies. “Horace, stop the car!” Caroline said, trying to be heard over the din of the crying baby. Horace didn’t like to stop; keep rolling, get to the destination.  “No. You just nurse him, He’ll quiet down.” ordered Horace. “He isn’t settling. Stop the car!”  Horace ignored Caroline. The car rolled down the highway. Horace found a rock and roll station on the radio, and turned up the volume enough to drown out the crying baby. Benny cried. Soon Caroline was crying too. The car echoed with the sounds of the Rolling Stones and the crying baby. And the mother, begging; “Horace – Stop the car, please!”
Horace turned and looked at Caroline. The tears in her eyes, and the moon glow coming through the window behind her warmed his heart. At the next rest stop, he pulled over. Caroline crawled out, then reached back in the car to retrieve her warm coat and hat, ensured that Benny was wrapped warmly, and carefully lifted him into her strong arms.  The smell of the pending snow sparkled in the air. She held him to her heart, and hummed a gentle tune. Slowly, she walked up and down along the edge of the highway. Eighteen wheelers were roaring past, creating a wind vortex, drawing everything into the path of the next speeding vehicle. The first snowflakes swirled. Caroline walked and hummed, gently soothing the baby, their eyes met, and she let him know that everything would be all right.
From the darkness came Horace’s voice, piercing the night; “Come on now. Get back into the car. We have to get going. We should be there in a couple more hours.” Caroline looked down at Benny, then looked back up the road at Horace, tears rolled from her eyes as she thought; “What have I gotten myself into? Why did we bring him?”
The wedding was the next day.  They awoke in a small room, with a new layer of snow making everything quiet and soft, like the earth had been put to bed, hushed and snug.. The foot prints in the snow, marched from the car to the room, Horace’s large prints, and Caroline’s smaller prints. You could see several tracks, as each went back and forth, retrieving what they would need for a sound sleep.
Horace turned on the TV; he said that he wanted to catch up on the news. He kept the volume low enough so that Caroline could coo to Benny, as he has his took first feeding in this strange place.  They still had a distance to travel. Caroline resigned to that. The snow had slowed their progress; they still had several hours to drive on the treacherous highways The Wedding would be missed as they crawled down the highway on the unplowed white expanse. She hoped that someone would have been out earlier, forging a track through the snow, so that they would be able to see the edges of the road.
She called Aunt Mona; “Aunt Mona, I am so sorry that we won’t be able to make it to the ceremony. “ We spent the night in Clear Lake, and won’t get there until after noon.“ “Don’t worry about that dear,” said Aunt Mona. “You take your time. The reception isn’t until 7 tonight. You can join us then.” Caroline sighed; she knew that Mona would understand. “Thanks, I’m so glad that you understand. Give my best wishes to Shane and Marian.” “I will dear, now tell Horace to drive carefully.” “I will Aunt Mona. We’ll see you soon.” Caroline hung up the phone. She looked at Horace, then at Benny. Was she crazy to make this trip in winter?
Ten hours later, their car arrived at the Chateau d’Arval: such a beautiful spot on the lake. The Chateau was built in the late 1800’s and spoke of opulence. A valet helped them into the Chateau, then parked their car. They stood in the Foyer, looking around for some signal which way to go, where to turn. The room was immense.  They noticed a sign propped on the floor indicating that the “Harris Wedding Reception” was in room III. They followed the signs.
As receptions go, this one was pretty special, fancy room, nice food, good company. The main problem was the music. DISCO! And extremely loud! Anyone who was watching would have noticed the look on Caroline’s face as the DJ spun the first tune; shock and disgust.  Benny had been sleeping. He had a nice snack in the women’s rest room, and Caroline put him into the car seat, and there he snoozed.  That is until the music started.
With the first chorus, there was a faint whimper coming from the car seat. With each song, louder and louder, the whimper matched it; swelling in volume, until Benny was crying, crying, crying, rising to a crescendo; “Wah- Wah- Wah.”
Caroline looked around. Horace was out there dancing, dancing with all the bride’s maids, dancing like he knew what he was doing; hearing only the disco beat. Caroline picked up Benny, and went into the Ladies room again. She sat on that uncomfortable stool, and put Benny to the breast. Benny suckled; the breast filled and emptied of milk in a moment. Benny continued to suck; the vigor was going out of it though.  Soon, Benny was calm. The disco beat throbbed through the washroom door. Caroline waited; Benny finally fell off to sleep. Caroline got up, and peeked through the door. There was no sign of Horace. Didn’t he notice that she was gone? Didn’t he even notice?
One of the other guests was in the washroom. Caroline asked her to go get Horace. A while later Horace knocked on the washroom door. He was visibly drunk. Caroline looked at him, she looked at Benny. She said; “Can you take him for a while, so I can spend some time with the family?”  Horace looked into the washroom, and saw his son dozing on the floor in his car seat. Horace said “What did we bring him for?” Caroline shrugged.
Horace took the sleeping baby back into the reception room, and slid the sleeping baby and the car seat under the table. Horace sat down, and had another glass of champagne. He watched the dancers, he tapped his foot. He stood up and asked Aunt Mona to dance. Caroline watched Horace lead Mona on to the dance floor; she watched him swirl her around the floor. She remembered when he used to dance with her like that. Now, she had Benny. And Benny was waking again, and crying again. Caroline didn’t see him, she heard him through the din of the constant beats. She listened, and soon followed the sound under the table, to her unhappy baby. She reached under the table, and dragged the baby seat to her side. “I will take care of you dear Benny. Come on. Let’s go back into the Ladies room.”
It was a long stressful night for Caroline; Horace dancing, Benny sleeping, sucking and crying; and poor Caroline just barely coping. She called a cab, and while Horace learned how to do the Electric Slide, Caroline took Benny and walked out the main entrance into the waiting cab. As they drove off, she looked at the beautiful Chateau, the small corsage on her shoulder, the ring on her finger, and the baby in her arms: tears came into her eyes.

“Why did we bring him?”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fun in Acapulco

“Hey! Hey, stop! ‘Scuse me! Did I hear you say that you’re from Canada?”
Paul and I looked at each other, turned and noticed the man who was speaking. We were standing outside Sanborn’s Café on Paseo de Reforma, in Mexico City. After being in Mexico for a few weeks, most North Americans are searching for a good hamburger. Sanborn’s was supposed to have the best in Mexico. Out of the restaurant charged a handsome young man; he had wavy black hair and a mustache.
 “Yes, we are from Canada, why do you ask?” Paul said.
 The stranger introduced himself as Tony Docal, and said “My wife, Patty, is from Canada. Do you know Saskatchewan? She is from Saskatchewan. I met her in Acapulco. She is living with me here.  Would you like to meet my wife?”
We believed his story. How many Mexicans are going to know about Saskatchewan, or be able to say it? Still, we didn't know how to take what he was saying. It was a very strange request. We had been in Mexico a couple of weeks, slowly driving southeast to Mexico City, we didn't expect an invitation like that.
It was 1969; we were young and in love. I had bought a 1954 Volvo 445 in Vancouver BC that winter. It was a station wagon. When the back seat was folded forward, the cavernous cargo area could become our home on wheels.
We had a carpenter friend build a platform in the back. We could sleep on the platform, and store everything that we would take with us on our expedition underneath. I made some curtains that would allow some privacy. This car carried us from place to place as we explored the quaint towns and villages of Mexico.
“We can meet tomorrow in Chapultepec Park at 2.” Tony continued. “All right?”
Paul glanced at me, I nodded. We agreed that we would meet the next day. We were always up for another adventure. This time we got more adventure than we could imagine.
Tony asked where we were staying. Paul explained that we were staying in a small hotel near the center of town.
“You can check out of there, and come to stay at my mother’s house. It is a big house we have much rooms. Part of it used to be a soap factory.”
The next day we went to the park. We found where we were to meet and waited.  Soon Tony approached. There was a tall blond woman beside him. He walked up to us and said, “This is my wife Patty.” He was obviously proud to have this tall blond Canadian beauty as his wife. “Patty, these are the people that I told you about from Canada.” We introduced ourselves, and this new adventure began.
As the afternoon was closing, Tony said that he would take us to his mother’s house to stay. He and Patty climbed into the back of our vintage Volvo, and directed us through the streets of Mexico City. He said to turn this way and that. As we wended our way through the streets of the city, I became more and more disoriented. We turned this corner and that. Would I ever be able to find my way out of this maze? Were we going to his mother’s home for a safe abode, or to some place more sinister. I was wondered if Paul was at all concerned about what we were doing. Was I concerned?
The streets were clean. The buildings were 2 storied, and constructed of what looked like concrete. There were a few windows, and several large doors. The shops on the corners spilled baskets of fruits and vegetables out on to the streets. The smells of exotic foods filled the air. We heard the sounds of children laughing and women calling to each other across the streets. Soon we stopped outside a large gate. Tony said, “This is my mother’s house.” The wall was blank, except for the gate. The gate had a big lock in it, there was a chain hanging down the side of the gate.
Tony got out of the car and opened the gate. As the gate opened, we could see the courtyard spread out in front of us. It was a small courtyard. There were several doors on the ground level. The second floor was ringed by a balcony with doors leading into the rooms beyond.
 “Drive in the gate,” Tony said, “You can stay here. Just park your car, and you can sleep right here.”
We were welcomed in with smiles, hugs and handshakes. “Buenos dias.” “Bienvenidos.” Tony showed us around the building. The bathroom that we would use was in the soap factory. The shower was a pipe with a nozzle coming out of the wall. The sink looked like it could be used to wash laundry and the toilet… well the toilet was a hole in the floor, with 2 footprints molded into it.
Tony’s mother, Cuca, (short for Cucaracha) welcomed us heartily and said that we were could stay as long as we liked. She was surrounded by a clutch of children, from Tony and Patty on down to the three younger boys.
I breathed a sigh of relief; I understood that we had found a safe haven, a place to stay in this massive city. From here we could explore Mexico City. We accepted this generous invitation.
After a couple of days, Tony suggested that we travel to Acapulco. He knew a man; his uncle had a friend there that owned a hotel. Tony said that he could arrange a deal for us.
“Sure.” we agreed… more adventure.

The next day, we found ourselves packed into the Volvo and heading south. We drove through the mountains wrapped in the colors and sounds of the exotic tropical forests. The further south we drove, the warmer and more humid the weather became.
By afternoon, we were driving down the slopes of upper Acapulco toward the beautiful blue waters of Acapulco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Reaching the waterfront, we turned right and drove along the promenade. We drove past the city center, and up to a small hotel. It was a simple place, concrete and barren. Tony went in and told his friend that we were there. With key in hand, Tony guided us to the second floor, and opened the door of a very basic room. There were two full size beds, and a basic bathroom; the room was clean, the shower had hot water, I recognized a real toilet, the beds were comfortable and the a/c was turned on. I could rest here.

We sat in the room for short while, relaxing. Then Paul and I decided that we would go for a swim. Tony and Patty decided that they would stay behind in the room. Tony told us where to find the beach, and off we went. Tony had been a beach boy in Acapulco when he met Patty, so he was very familiar with Acapulco and its beaches.
We pulled up to a beautiful beach, opposite a more luxurious hotel, parked, locked the car, and headed to the beach. The beach was very long and wide. It looked almost deserted. We figured that most people had left for the day, returning to their hotels to prepare for the evening. There were a few people sitting in beach chairs under the palm trees that lined the street.
We took off our clothes, leaving them in a pile on the beach and headed for the water.
The beach was steep going into the water and got deep very quickly. The safe swim zone was about the first 10 feet from shore. The surf broke very close to shore. The waves crashed over our heads. The undertow pulled on our bodies. We tried to swim in the surf. With each wave washing over our heads we became breathless. Battling the pounding surf exhausted us. We turned, dragging ourselves up the beach. We returned to the safety of the beach. We stood on the beach, panting. We realized how truly lucky we had been to climb back out of the tugging surf.
Coming out of the water, we walked across the beach to our pile of clothes, dried off and dressed. Paul reached into his pocket; no keys. He must have left them in the car. We walked to the street. We looked up the street. We looked down the street. The car was nowhere. We returned to the beach. We searched through the sand, trying to see if the keys had fallen out of his pocket. After scouring the sand, we realized that someone on the beach must have been watching us. They saw us drive up, strip to our bathing suits and go into the water. They rifled through Paul’s clothes and found the keys. It was a simple matter for them to walk to the street and drive away.  
The awareness of what had happened crept into my heart. I was devastated! Tears welled in my eyes as I thought, “How will I get home? How will I even get back to the room? How could I let this happen? What can I do now?” My life was in that car; passports, traveler’s checks, clothes, all the things that keep young people alive and living on the road.
Instead of falling apart, I remembered Tony. He would know what to do. The first thing to do was to hail a taxi and return to the room.
I followed Paul slowly up the stairs to the room. I was wondering what to tell Tony and Patty. Paul knocked on the room door. “Come in.” Tony called. We entered and Paul said, “We need some money to pay the taxi driver. Our car was stolen, and we took a taxi back. Can you lend us some money please?”
“Your car was stolen?” astonishment showed in Tony’s eyes. Patty dug into her purse and handed Paul enough money to pay the driver.
“We have to report this to the police stations. They are closed now; we can do that in the morning.” Tony said.
There are three levels of police in Acapulco; the Municipal Police, the “Federales” and the Highway Patrol. We had to report the car theft to each branch. Tony would come along as interpreter and guide. Early the next morning we hailed another taxi and the day’s duties began.
The taxi took us along the promenade, and turned up the hill we had driven down just the day before, when we had entered the city. I remembered how thrilled I had been arriving at this beautiful bay. I didn't feel the same thrill going back up the hill in that taxi. Up the winding road we drove until we arrived at the Highway Patrol station. Tony, Paul and I went into the office. The officer was business like. We three sat down and Tony did the talking. The reports were filled out, signed and sealed.
Next was the Federales. This wing of the police always had a scary aspect to it. These were the guys to avoid if you were doing what most young tourists were doing in Mexico. Again, Tony led the way with assurance.
Last was the Acapulco Municipal police. They were stationed in a large brick building that looked like a fortress. There was a large parking lot where we drove up, and I could see another around the corner of the building. Like so many institutions, this one was built to intimidate. Tony had been in here before; he was familiar with the place. He led the way. We sat down at the desk and the officer took our information.
He was very sympathetic to our plight, and indicated that they would do their best to help us get our car back. He took down the description of the car; 1954 Blue Volvo station wagon, British Columbia plates… filled with all my personal possessions. We had been moving back to Nova Scotia to get married.  We just took the long way… or, perhaps, the wrong way?
The next stop would be the American Express office to report the theft of my traveler’s checks. The driver drove us back down the hill to the promenade, and turned left. We drove past the beach where I last saw my car. I looked, and looked; it still wasn’t there. The beach was crowded with people, selling everything from serapes to tacos, asking if you wanted a drink, begging. Why had all these people been gone when we were there the preceding evening? Where were the witnesses? There were none, except the thieves.
The American Express office was in a beautiful hotel. The agent listened to our story and said that he understood our problem. He thought that we were only missing money. He didn't know that we had lost our home as well.
I had left the copy of the check numbers at the room, so I was able to give him the numbers and amounts of the missing checks. He was able to give me $250 dollars. It was 1969; $250 went a long way then. I felt comforted as I left the hotel with the small wad of American cash in my pocket.
The nearest bank gladly swapped some of the dollars for pesos, and the day’s duties were done. We headed back to the hotel, paid off the driver, and went back to the room exhausted.
We would have to report the stolen passports to the Canadian Embassy back in Mexico City. The next day we four climbed aboard the bus to Mexico City. The trip was much less comfortable than our trip south. We swayed in the seats and smelled other people’s oranges. There were children running up and down the aisle, yelling and laughing. When we arrived in Mexico City we took a taxi back to Cuca’s home. That night Paul and I moved into the bedroom beside Tony and Patty.
Monday morning, bright and early, we went to the Embassy. We walked into the office, and Paul said to the receptionist, “We would like to report that our passports were stolen.”
The woman behind the desk looked up from her typewriter, and asked, “Are you Mr. Joudrey and Miss Blackmore?”
We were stunned. “Yes,” we said at the same time.
“Your car was found with your passports in it. You were reported as missing and presumed dead. We were just drafting letters to send to your parents to tell them that you are missing and presumed dead.” she said with a smile on her face, “You got here just in time.”
“Well, here we are, and we’re quite alive.”
The receptionist continued, “This has the possibility of becoming an international incident. There is a new chief of police in Acapulco. He has taken on the task of solving the case of the missing Canadians as his first official duty. We will have to be very tactful when we tell him that you reported your car stolen on one side of the building, while it was parked in the lot on the other side of the building.”
“Are you saying that they had the car when we reported it stolen?” Paul asked.
“Yes and the thieves were asleep in the car when they found it.”
This was becoming more than funny, it was becoming ludicrous. The police had the car and the thieves when we reported the theft.
We asked about some of our possessions, the traveler’s checks would be no good, what about the clothes and camping gear. The woman at the embassy couldn’t help us there. I felt relief, utter relief. My car was found. I could get back my stuff. We could go home.
The next day, Paul took the bus back to Acapulco to pick up the car. He arrived late in the evening. After a simple supper, he returned to the beach. He thought that he could save money by sleeping on the beach. As he crossed the sidewalk, a 6” black scorpion rattled across the walk in front of him. The hotel where he stayed was a simple one. He slept like a man saved from the beasts of the wild, safe and secure. He awoke ready to conquer the world, or at least retrieve the Volvo.
Paul went directly to the Acapulco Municipal Police station. He entered through the same door we had entered 3 short days before. He went to the same desk where we had reported the car stolen. With his meager Spanish, Paul communicated that he was the missing Canadian, that had come to get his car and possessions.
The officer led him through the many halls of the station until they walked out on to a large parking lot. There, sitting parked in the lot was the beautiful blue Volvo he had been seeking. He looked at the officer, and motioned like turning the keys. The officer said something in Spanish, and indicated the car.
Paul went to the car and looked into it. There, dangling from the ignition, were the long lost keys, just waiting for a loving hand to twist them.
Paul opened the back and surveyed the things in the Volvo. Several items were missing. The camp stove was still there. His cowboy boots from Texas were gone. The sombrero he bought in Mazatlán was gone. Sunglasses, toiletries, books and traveler’s checks, all were gone. The question was, if the police nabbed the thieves when they found the car, who took our things?
Paul opened the driver side door, and sat in the familiar seat, his butt and the seat warmed to each other. Ahhh, that’s the way it is supposed to be.
There was one major problem, the car had been damaged. Evidently, the thieves didn't know how to drive a vehicle with that kind of transmission, standard, with three on the floor. They had ruined it.
The Volvo started up easily. Putting it into gear was more of a challenge. Paul managed to force it into second, and slowly pulled out heading north. He drove the distance shifting between second and third gears. There was no reverse gear. There was no first gear. Late that night he arrived back at Cuca’s home.
The next hurdle would be to get the car repaired so that we could leave Mexico. We had purchased AAA Auto Insurance when we entered Mexico at Nogales, so the repairs would be covered. Now we needed to find a good mechanic, who could work on this exotic car.

Tony knew a man; a friend of his cousin was a mechanic. Tony assured us that this friend could repair our car. We chugged the Volvo through the neighborhoods of Mexico City until we pulled up to a small service station, with a “Pemex” sign on the wall. A short swarthy man came out and shook hands with Tony. This was our “mecánico.” The mechanic looked at the Volvo. He opened the hood. He looked at the transmission, “Tres, solo tres?” “Si, only three gears.” He took his head out from under the hood and said “Una semana.”      
One week, okay. We were planning a May wedding in Nova Scotia. A week would be pushing it, but we could still make it.
Back at the soap factory, things were going well. We were staying in a comfortable bed, and meeting interesting people. We were paying Cuca a small amount of money for rent, and she was feeding us home cooked Mexican food. We went for wonderful excursions with the family. I would go shopping at the corner with Patty for “hielo de fresa” and “cacahuetes garapiñados.” (strawberry ices and candy covered peanuts)
Tony’s brother, Cachi, had gone to Huautla, where the “hongos” (mushrooms) grow. He returned with amulets made from pebbles he had found in a cave. These had a special association with Maria Sabina, a Curandera (shaman). Wearing these stones was supposed to bring blessings… It was too late for them to bring us “Luck.”
One of our biggest lessons while in Mexico was that you don’t leave the house with a list of things to do. We would arrive at some official office with our request for some kind of official document or registration. As soon as we spoke with the customer service agent, she would send us to a different line. When we got to the head of that line, that agent would take a break. It seemed like as soon as they realized that you had a list of things to do, they would slow you down, putting another hurdle in your way. “You have to go there, to such and such a building or line or office. Get this piece of paper. Sign it and bring it back here.”
After a couple of days we realized that the smartest plan would be to leave the house with one thing to do. When that was accomplished, we could proceed to the next item on the list. We never let anyone know that we had a list. There was only one thing that we were going to do that day.
After the week had passed, Paul returned to the “estacion.” (service station) The mechanic said “Una semana mas.” Another week, Paul returned to the soap factory. Were we surprised? Not much, we had already learned the meaning of “mañana.” (tomorrow)
Plans to return to Nova Scotia for a May wedding had to be put aside. We would have a bit more of a delay in Mexico. Letters went out to our parents. We let them know the situation, and sat back for another week enjoying the hospitality shown us in the soap factory.
After the second week had passed, Paul returned to the estacion. The mechanic said “Una semana mas.” He could find no parts for this Volvo. He would have to modify what he could get. There had been one shipment of this model into the Pacific North West. The parts would be difficult to find. Getting this vehicle repaired would turn out to be a challenge throughout the time that we owned it. Waiting for repairs became a theme.
After three weeks, the mechanic said that the car was finally ready. Paul picked it up. The test drive was most satisfying.  The return of first and reverse gears certainly made driving the narrow streets easier and safer.
We had arrived in Mexico City April 10th, and planned to be in Brownsville on the 22nd. That would be when the car insurance would expire. We were already well past the 22nd. One of the places we had waited in line was at the AAA office, waiting to renew the insurance.  The agent there suggested that the repairs that took 3 weeks to complete were not going to get us back to Canada. So we should stop in Brownsville, TX to get a proper job done. He gave us a letter to pass on the agent there.
For our last meal before leaving our friends, Tony knew a man, a taco vendor. We went to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant to buy our dinner. We enjoyed the tacos and went back to Cuca’s for the night. Finally, we could sleep in the Volvo again, in our own bed.
The next morning I awoke, burp, feeling a little green around the gills and blue in the face. I went to the washroom. There I said hello to the hole in the floor and saw the tacos again… and again. We had heard what happens when you eat street food in Mexico. It’s called “Turista” or Montezuma’s Revenge. Tony said that he couldn’t be sure of the tacos; they might have been made with cat meat.
While I held my rolling stomach, Paul and Tony exchanged contact information. With hugs and kisses good-bye, “Thank you so much.” and “Muchas gracias.” expressed to everyone, we started driving. We were driving out of Mexico this time. After being in Mexico so long, I now was heading north, and I was taking Montezuma’s Revenge with me.
The road north from Mexico City was twisty and hot as we climbed the mountains outside the city. I was sitting there swaying back and forth, just holding my own. Driving down the switchback highway, with tropical jungle on both sides, I called for an emergency stop. Rounding another curve, we came upon a café. I remembered the one truly international word that I knew, “Toilet!” I was directed out back. Behind the curtain there was a hole in the ground. That is where I left my underwear.
By 4 PM, I needed to rest. We stopped in a small town. Paul went into a small clean hotel and rented a room. I finally felt some relief, as we lay naked beneath the ceiling fan.
Soon, Paul said that he was hungry. The last thing that I wanted was food. There was a train station across the street with a café. I decided to go with him anyway. We crossed the street and entered. There was no one there except one woman who seemed to work there standing in the corner. We saw a small table and seated ourselves.
The woman approached to take our order. Paul ordered the “especial del dia,” (special of the day) “chuletas de puerco.” (pork chops) When she looked at me, I just held my stomach and said “Turista.” She nodded. A few minutes later she returned with a cup of steaming Manzanilla tea. I sat there sniffing the tea. It had that wonderful fragrance of feeling better. I sipped the tea, allowing it to slowly fill my queasy stomach. The warmth eased my body and my mind relaxed. Suddenly there was a gurgle. I wasn’t sure what was happening. I got up to go the restroom; it was through those doors and to the left. As I walked through the doors it happened. I turned into a fire hose, as the cup of warm Manzanilla tea spewed from my mouth, projecting 15 feet across the room. The room was dim and empty. This was only between me, the walls, the floor, Paul and the kind Mexican woman.  I couldn’t stop as I rushed into the restroom.
When I returned, I was so embarrassed. The kind senora waved away my concern, as she wiped up the tea. It was only tea, after all. That was the only thing that I had eaten since the tacos. The floor was tile; the mess was “No problemo.”
The next day, I felt a little better, and we bravely drove north.
We crossed the border back into the U. S. at Brownsville. We had the letter to the AAA agent in Brownsville, so we asked the border guard to show us where the office was. It was right there at the border; they were closed. Paul asked the customs agent who he might suggest for the repair. He gave us the name of a shop. He said that since it was Saturday, they would be closed as well. Paul figured that the Mexicans had put banana peels into the transmission, it had worked that poorly. We hoped for better results stateside.
More waiting, more delay. I was still reeling from the “Turista.” Searching for a cooler breeze, we headed for the beach. We travelled to Port Isabel for the week end. Here I could lie quietly in the back of the Volvo, with the cooling sea breeze blowing across my body, taking the aches away with each gust.
Monday morning, the AAA office would be open. We spoke with the agent there, and he suggested the same service station for the repairs. We drove up to the service station. It had a familiar red star that said “Texaco.” The mechanic looked at the car, “I ain’t never seen a car like this before.” he said. Paul groaned. The mechanic opened the hood, looked at the transmission, stuck his head out from under the hood and said, “Three days to get the parts.” He said as soon as the parts came that they would be able to repair the Volvo.
Smiles spread across our faces, we anticipated being able to continue our trip. It was now May 5th. It was definitely too late to plan a May wedding. Oh well, how about August???
We headed back to the beach at Port Isabel. We found a place by the side of the road that would be our home while we waited again. Port Isabel is where I tasted the foulest tasting water that I have ever experienced. It even ruined the coffee.
For leisure activity, and to kill time, Paul rented a Surfboard. The waves were rolling in with just enough curl to move a surf board. It looked like the perfect site for a beginner to learn. He caught his 3rd wave. When he wiped out the board flew up into the air over his head. When it came down it narrowly missed his head and cut his hand. That was the end of his surfing career. I was sitting on the beach watching. When I saw the board go flying, and nearly strike down the man I was going to marry, I decided that I wouldn't be surfing there either.
The parts finally arrived at the service station. We dropped off the car and moved into an air conditioned cottage while it was getting put in shape for the long haul across the south and up the eastern seaboard, destination Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
An August wedding it was. Now, what would be our next adventure?