Sonrisa and the Birthday Anchor rode out the storm with no problems. We spent the entire day doing laundry the old fashioned way, lounging and reading. The next day, though, as soon as the sun peeked out of the clouds and warmed everything up, we were ready for another Death-Wharf adventure. After a day’s worth of thinking, I realized that I needed to break out one of my most trusty mental tricks: fake it until you make it. I went through my rolodex of mentors to find the most laid back, brave and savvy person I knew, and now, I will pretend to be that person until I get the hang of this.
We unfolded Grin, loaded on the motor, and piled on three empty diesel jugs for a refill. As we set off toward the dock, misadventure #1 for the day occurred, and the engine cut out. Not to worry, while Andrew tried to get the air bubble out of the fuel line, I bravely rowed with the oars to guide Grin back to Sonrisa in the still 15-20 knot winds. Disaster averted. We switched fuel tanks, and set off again. We reached the Death Wharf with no further problems. Our friendly welcome brigade filled up the diesel jugs and confirmed we could leave them on the wharf until we were ready to go back out to the boat.
We decided to walk through town.
I fake my brave-face as we walk past herds of stray dogs. If I were a stray dog, I would be hungry, petulant, and looking to gnaw on the first gringo I could find. But these stray dogs lounged in the shade of trucks, played with each other, roamed as though they owned the town, and generally didn’t pay much attention to me. Piles of wood and rock form makeshift homes for people next door to brightly painted adobe or cement homes you might find in Tempe, Arizona. Kids are walking home from school, carrying books, wearing uniforms, and listening to music in headphones. Every person we pass - every single person - waves and says “Ola!” including those who are in vehicles. They go out of their way to stick their head out of their car to wave and greet. We cheerfully wave and greet them back. We look out of place. Even the children riding in the bed of pick up trucks turn to look at us, puzzling for a moment, then they smile and wave, too.
The roads are all dirt, except a small portion of one single paved road. There are several markets, one gas station, and we confirm the water is trucked in, because we find the water store with a tanker truck parked outside draining its tank. They seem to make the most of everything. We find an ostrich built of palm fronds and what might be a white picket fence built of used tires. Cars kick up dust as they drive here and there. I was curious where they were going/coming from; the town is so small and so far from everything else. We turn back, and sit at Maria’s for Tecate with salt and lime. Maria was away, so Victor served us our beer and blared his personal playlist while he did laundry. We looked out at low tide, watched the birds jostle for territory, and watched a fisherman use a tractor to put his Panga back in the water.
Two men dressed in military fatigues and carrying automatic rifles on their hip walk out on the Death Warf. I worry what they could be doing out there. When it’s time for us to return to the boat, we find he military person/police officer is fishing off the pier. A kid, about twelve or so, helps us down the stairs with our jerry jugs of diesel and we scoot off.
A wise man once told me, “If you look around the room, and you are the one with the most to lose, you need to get out of there.” What do these people think of us as they watch us poke around their town? We are like two skittish, curious kittens in a street dog’s world. I am looking around and from my perspective, I am the guy in the room with the most to lose. My spidey sense is all off kilter. I don’t understand how their lives operate. If I were them, I imagine I would be bitter, angry at my lot, and out to change my circumstances, even if that meant stealing from a couple of whiney Americans. Do I need to get out of here?
These people seem nice, cheerful and content, yet, covered in dust. It is quite possible that these people know something about life I do not, and I am not the guy in the room with the most to lose.