Saturday, January 15, 2022

Rusty The Toreador

It was another of those busy days yesterday that occasionally punctuate the drifting days of not very much happening. It was shopping time in the city of Huatabampo, the town 30 minutes inland from the beaches of “Little Huatabampo” (Huatabampito).  

The village was empty but we stopped to feed a couple of hungry puppies and an adult dog who seemed less hungry but glad for breakfast anyway. 

The plan was to do some shopping for perishables and I planned to load a few pounds of  kibbles for hungry dogs we meet along the way. There aren’t as many true strays as you might imagine but like poor Mexicans themselves their dogs, who live outside, don’t always get as much to eat as one might like. Tips for the humans and kibbles for the dogs are what we factor in to the already modest cost of living.

We passed the RV park at the entrance to the village and the two large trailers parked and plugged in. The RV park is right at the end of the asphalt so they don’t have to negotiate the dried mud and sand of the village street. 

The inland is long and straight and filled with topes (speed bumps) in the inhabited stretches. I spend the drive carefully watching other traffic to see when they come to a stop. It’s a total pain watching for unmarked bumps in the road. 

On our way back to the beach the shacks by the side of the road we’re coming to life yo accommodate weekend beach traffic. For farmers and ranchers Friday is just another work day: 

We followed Google maps to the Ley supermarket in Huatabampo to start our shopping. It was a good store with fresh vegetables and lots of variety. $27 for everything including kibbles for strays, Indio beer and so forth. 

While Layne sorted the shopping I took Rusty for a walk. I put him on a leash and made a spectacle of us as a leashed fog is only held back because it’s dangerous. In this case I leashed him because there was lots of traffic and he was more relaxed while secured to me. 

I may have looked odd walking while tied to a dog but there was a dude across the street taking some water for a stroll. 

That was a reminder we had a 15 gallon hole in our 35 gallon tank. Google maps got us here. 50 cents for each five gallon jug. 

The employee’s brother lives in San Jose California and we discussed the relative merits of life there and in Huatabampo. Bruce’s idea of using a hose to siphon the water works a treat.  

Layne saw a flour tortilla shop down the street so we walked there and bought a pile of tortillas some hot and some cold for a buck fifty. A quick snack showed they were as good as ever. 

The plastic screen was designed to separate customer from employee. Everyone wore a mask and the employee held our tortillas and passed us our change all while using a plastic bag as a glove. Mexicans are getting vaccinated as fast as they can but wearing a mask even on the street is totally normal and non controversial. 

Rusty got busy practicing to blend in like a local. 

He snuck down an alley to drop an egg and sniff around. I wonder what goes through his mind facing new smells and sights. The van is definitely his home and secure place. 

Years sho when we sailed Mexico flies drove us and just as they do aboard GANNET2. Worse yet we were starting to get used to the damn nuisances flying around our heads. On the boat we had bought fly papers that hung from the cabin ceiling in strips covered in glue. Flies landed and got stuck. They worked after a fashion. 

It was the devil’s own job to explain the concept in a ferret shop which didn’t carry “matamoscas” - fly killers. A customer twigged what I was looking for and put the name of a business into my Google map. It was a vet shop and sure enough they had the modern equivalent of fly paper. Nowadays they use two dollar packets of fly powder. We used a few grains on a piece of foil moistened with water and suddenly the flies were falling down dead, after one quick drink of the mixture. Relief! 

Time for lunch and I am proud to say I spotted our lunch spot. It was superb. We sat and ordered sopes which are thick toasted tortillas and in this case they were huge and came with melted cheese covered in cubes of grilled beef.

The men operated the sidewalk grill and the women organized the fixings inside the kitchen. 

She ladled our bean soup which was delicious full of flavor and filling. She also came to our table and showed us where the lime compartment was hidden under the green salsa bowl in the middle of the side dishes. 

It was an embarrassingly filling meal. We had never had such giant sopes before and these were piled high. As Layne wandered off to lay the $8 bill for food and Fresca sodas Rosario came by for a chat. 

He liked my name. “Miguel,” he said, “ like the archangel.”  “Yes,” I agreed. “The head angel.”  He nodded and hoped god would bless me. The cook, on her lunch break overheard our conversation and was nodding at her food solemnly in agreement. 

Time to go and walk off our lunch. 

The main square is named for Benito Juarez and is a shady public space in front of city hall which was besieged by a line of people for some unknown reason. Many years ago Layne and I saw a gathering in the street when we were visiting San Blas. It was dusk and we joined the crowd to see what was what. A lady came round  with cake and lemonade and made us more puzzled than ever. Eventually we asked what was going on and discovered that Zelig-like we had unknowingly been attending the wake of a well liked local woman. This time we sidled past the crowd without asking awkward questions. 

Further up the square Rusty met a local, one loaded with giant cojones. Rusty didn’t like him much and they parted barely on speaking terms. There were too many smells so I got the leash out and made a spectacle of ourselves again. Rusty on a leash makes for faster forward progress. 

This crowd was outside a bank so finally the penny dropped and we guessed Friday is payday. 


We drove back to the beach on the now familiar road in ninety degree sunshine and found our spot at the end of the dirt road above the beach. That was when I saw a cow ambling all by herself down the beach. As it ambled it swung and it was very soon apparent it was less a cow and more a bull. 

Layne was not keen to share the beach with the ambling bull so we waited. Rusty got out of the van and the minute he saw the huge black shadow he became a dog possessed. 

He barked and weaved his way toward the bull which had already shown signs of deep puzzlement. First he had come up off the beach and found a huge shiny box where there shouldn’t be anything at all. He paused and stared. And then this mad barking bundle of fur came out of nowhere and faced him down. He was not in the mood and turned away. Rusty was ignoring us but he had the bull’s full attention. Slowly the two ton lump of leather backed away into the dunes. Rusty sidled back looking for approval. He got that and a fair dose of puzzlement too. I never knew my dog would take his security duties so seriously. 

We went for a swim and Rusty stood on the beach keeping one eye on us and the other on his home. When we stepped out of the cold dark waters he saw we were safe and raced up the beach. We ambled after him and there he was, keeping an eye on the danger. Which ignored him and kept munching. My surprising dog. I am more impressed by him every day on the road. 

Then we got our visitor. Clemente came along to check up on us saying he is an officer in the Sonora State Police. That was my cut to whip out a Key West Police patch and we got along chatting away until his wife dragged him off to dinner. On leaving he gave us his number and said if you need anything don’t hesitate to call. Ok then. Nice guy. 

The sunset was spectacular as ever and a can of Indio and a plate of nachos saw us passing out in our recliners. A good day then. 


Anonymous said...

OK, I can’t read it backwards: what's the sticker in your back window? Banana slug?

Bruce and Celia said...

Looks like it says UC Santa Cruz with Sammy the Slug... the mascot. 'Banana Slug- No Known Predators!'

Anonymous said...

Layne's law school…? 🤔

Conchscooter said...

Layne graduated UC Santa Cruz and went on the Hastings School of Law in San Francisco.