Tuesday, July 18, 2006

On Monday I came back from a short mini visit to Acapulco. Old harbor with fantastic landscapes (a mixture of Punta Cana and Capri), multicolored ocean and eternal sunsets, harbor of stories and romance. In our hotel, with 80% occupancy, the view from our room saved us from fainting from the numerous families, their children yelling, the older grandmothers striving to walk behind them, then stopping to nap in the sun. In our 8th floor, we had the harbor before us, crowned to the left with a majestic rock. The rock colonized with stout trees and grass of the darkest leaves. Three layers of color outlined the skirts of the continuous, never-ending ocean and the sound of each wave brought the idea of a foreign breeze on our face. You cannot really stand still under the sun for too long, its rays penetrating like daggers of a furious God. My skin, while dark, is sensitive and delicate, and cannot withstand the Acapulco beams. I tried to get the summer bronze tint but instead my skin was spotted and ruined, only calmed down with a layer of oat and honey that my mother’s hands carefully prepared a few days later. The light is nevertheless welcome, and the open sky a refreshing change from the incessant New York monsoons. I stood in the corner of our balcony and took the sky in every morning.

Unfortunately, Acapulco is now drowned with tourists that are unable to respect and treasure the beauty of the place. They trash it with Styrofoam cups, plastic bags stained with coconut juice, beer cans, containers of their latest pleasures, forgotten hairpins and pieces of paper with fancy advertisements to restaurants near the beach. They destroy it with carelessness, ignorance of their past and future memory. Undeniably, Mexicans seem to lack nostalgia of their natural welfare, they forget the pristine swim of marine turtles and the elegance of the coral reefs, long gone from Acapulco, transformed into sad souvenirs and tan oils. They forget how the fumes and sounds of their motors interrupt the life aquatic, and they all simply live the moment of ephemeral joy, biting ravenously on the local fruit, washed down with the national rum. Foreigners abuse the timid land and boast their exotic status with rampant nights and days at expense of the landscape and its inhabitants, disrespectful of the locals.

I tried to ignore all that, and turned back the ocean for consolation. I also turned to my little sister, who I sometimes play with as my adopted daughter. She is 7 and quiet at first, her thin body framed by abundant hair. She holds my hand, smiles when I look at her, and giggles uncontrollably when I become her charging horse or the sneaky snake that traps her toes in the swimming pool. I pay attention to her moves and wonder how I was when I was 7, what I thought of and what I learned. Esmeralda –an unexpected name for a sister- is going on to 3rd grade while she runs to catch the foam of the latest wave, and tells me about her fancy graduation to celebrate her good grades and artistic creations while in school. I am happy to see her, and while I still struggle to interact with my father’s new wife, I’m embedded in the family matter of a small vacation. I finally relax from my everyday routine and my life abroad, lately overwhelmed with stress and duties, on my road to graduation. A vague feeling of a subway New York ride fades with the feeling of the sand massaging my bare feet. My worries of the recent presidential elections dissipate as I sip from my coconut and pineapple mix, and turn to smile to my sister again.

Just before we came back into the city, we made one last stop, a striking yet melancholic goodbye to Acapulco: the divers of La Quebrada, an impossible cliff with torrential waters below, where small and muscular men jump simultaneously, their bodies falling in a perfect curve. It is dark, the moon is above us in 45-degree angle, it illuminates the expectant faces of the crowd below. We can only sense the divers, stretching and concentrating in a tiny edge of the cliff. They remind me of unbeatable goats that climb the highest mountains on their tiptoes. Each diver needs to land among the small space within the sharp rocks, no room for mistakes or their lives end there, with an almost poetic drowning within the currents. They are dark until they turn on a set of lights that shines gently on their silhouettes, a few seconds before their Thespian jump. Where and when did they think of this affair, imitating seagulls in flight in an almost divine occurrence? Who are they and where were they born? Do they wake up in their sleep amidst imaginary cliffs? do they sit silently during the day, anonymous until night? I looked up at the dark void of the ocean below us, extending there, far, almost like a quiet whisper before each wave against the rocks, and waited for them.


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