The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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Pepino de Mar

We hired a cab to transport us to a special beach south of town called La Lancia. The waves are supposed to be better there. Our cabbie said he would take us, go home (which was only a couple of kilometers away), have lunch with his family, and then come back to pick us up. It was a gorgeous spot. About a mile of pure sand beach across the bay from the gigantic Four Seasons Resort. Unfortunately, we were a bit too early for the good waves but, as a consequence, had the place mostly to ourselves.

There were two men with large plastic buckets sitting near the end of the trail in the shade. A few surfers waited on their boards for waves. Pelicans flew in formation over the water and dove now and then for fish which they ate in large gulps. Two sailboats floated in the distance and directly in front of us the Marietas sat in the middle of the sea.

Then I noticed something in the water I couldn’t quite make out. It looked like a swimmer but that didn’t make much sense. Who would swim 100 yards from shore parallel to the beach? Whoever it was had fins and something trailing behind him tethered to a float. The mystery resolved itself half an hour later. A man in a short wetsuit, mask, and very long snorkle emerged from the sea with a net filled with something. The men we had seen earlier quickly approached and held out their buckets while the swimmer placed small objects inside.

Of course, I had to know what it was, so I went over and asked if they were fish. They all shook their heads no. Then what is it? I asked, and the snorkler dug into one of the buckets and pulled out an oblong spiny thing about the size of a sweet potato. “Pepino de mar,” he said, “brown sea cucumber.”

November 26, 2010   Comments Off on Pepino de Mar


I ran into a Canadian from Edmonton with a broken arm who runs the local bookstore. He asked if I wanted something. I stared into the basement space with cases of used books lining the walls and decided I didn’t. His hair had once been blond, I thought, and his face ruddy but it was pale now which is unusual for Mexico. He said he had a computer working if I wanted to access the Internet. The conversation seemed absurd—maybe it was my mood or the idea of making a living by selling used book in Sayulita—so I asked if “Crash and Burn” Airlines was still running between Calgary and Edmonton. What? he asked, and then said he spent six months here and six months in Canada. Business had been off sharply since the reports of the drug killings in Mexico. Last summer he had his housekeeper stay in his flat gratis because she took care of the place. The book shop only made $200 the whole summer. Life is hard in Mexico, I decided, even for some expatriates. Like our landlord, the owner of the book shop is barely getting by.

November 26, 2010   Comments Off on Librería

Pisos y Azulejos

November 26, 2010   Comments Off on Pisos y Azulejos

A Steve’s Adventure

Yesterday, for an adventure, we tried to get lost south of Sayulita on unknown roads but after a couple of miles found ourselves at a private beach, where no one spotted us because I was still holding my cup of coffee and we seemed like American tourists who belonged there, and then we clambered over rocks along the beach through another resort until we got to one of the seldom used beaches south of town, where we took a path between two barbed wire fences which climbed to the tops of the hills and then sharply downhill toward the ourskirts of Sayulita. In places it was like walking through jungle on dirt paths. Unfortunately, it didn’t qualify as a “Steve’s Adventure,” because we didn’t get lost, run out of water, or were forced to eat one another for food.

The truth is the coast of the Mexican Riviera is rather tame. For the most part, it is now one long stretch of expensive homes and resorts nestled in the hills or on the beaches overlooking the ocean. It’s a pity in a way, but not for the locals who depend on the jobs and incomes created by the need for builders, handymen, electricians, plumbers, gardeners, caretakers, maids, and cooks.

November 26, 2010   Comments Off on A Steve’s Adventure