Sonrisa de Caletilla
The bus pulled into Lazaro Cardenas before sunrise and it appeared the taxi drivers were all still drinking just a block from the bus station. I passed a couple gorgeous women still working the street, only when I got closer I realized they weren't women at all. Still, it was amazing how good they looked considering they'd been working all night and their makeup still looked pretty fresh.
Asked around and soon I was on a bus heading along the coast to Caletilla. I was expecting there would be a bit more to it than about four palapa-style basic restaurants situated on a hill overlooking the Pacific and coves all around it.
There was a place that had two rooms but they seemed a little pricey for what they were.
I asked at one of the restaurants and they suggested I try the little neighboring beach called Soledad. The man (Pedro) even gave me a ride there and waited while I had a look-see.
The only room was next to a family with several small children so I asked Pedro if I could just ride back up to Caletilla with him.
I told him I didn't need anything special and had my own hammock. He said I could just hang my hammock in his restaurant if I wanted and didn't need to pay anything, but asked that I give his wife Patricia a little tip when left. I thanked him and said I'd be happy to and that I'd eat all my meals in his restaurant as well.
At first I had a little withdrawal to have access to nothing but my hammock, small coves to swim in alone, and the infinite Pacific horizon with large waves crashing below.
"Lanchas de Caletilla" ~ Michoacan, Mexico (c) 2011 Skip Hunt
It was only a couple hours before I was at complete peace and no longer even looking at my watch. Just letting my mind go and play somewhere out there in the deep blue with a mantra of surf beats providing a soothing soundtrack.
Eventually I drifted into a siesta in my hammock until a large group arrived. They were an entourage with a fellow running for political office. Patricia seemed to be conferring with the candidate and everyone kept emptying liters of beer and scooping up mounds of seafood on tostadas.
The little fiesta went on for about an hour or so and then they all left with Patricia after passing out tshirts with the candidates face on them and loading up with more cauguamas (liters) of beer for the road.
I spent the rest of the afternoon hiking around looking for images and then settled into one of the more accessible coves to swim.
Check out this video clip of the cove where I swam on my blog HERE
Since I wasn't paying for lodging, I decided to splurge on a plate of octopus mixed with tons of garlic, chiles and tomatoes. They didn't have any sodas and were amused that I'd want anything other than beer. So beer it was. :)
It was only a short while after I'd ordered the octopus when Patricia came careening back from the entourage party. She looked pretty wasted and was toting around a grandbaby. Or maybe it was her baby. I'm not certain, but her daughter had a baby about the same age and Patricia doted over that baby as her own cub.
Her teenage son was driving the SUV with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and a cauguama of cerveza in his lap.
Patricia motioned for me to come over and said "Vamanos!" She wanted me to get into the SUV after they'd reloaded with more beer and the baby changed. I quickly said I'd love to but I'd already ordered some octopus. And, I was apprehensive about getting into a vehicle with a drunk teen driving, his drunk mother wielding an 8 month old, and this other Mexican hippy dude wearing a classic Mexican straw hat and a necklace full of giant colored beads.
Just before they left I changed my mind and said I'd go, the fellow preparing the octopus said he'd simmer it and I'd be ready when we got back. I got in, the teenaged driver poured a tall glass of beer and handed it to me. Patricia snatched up the baby and jumped back in with a fresh drink. We were off!
As we careened around the twisted coastal highway, I watched the ocean and listened to the bantor. The hippy dude asked me something that I couldn't quite understand. Either he was asking me if I'd killed anyone in Texas, or if I'd seen people killed in Texas. I told him I didn't understand so he repeated the question and then drew his hand across his neck like a knife. I still wasn't sure which question he was asking me but figured the answer was the same regardless and answered, "No."
We mostly just kept stopping off at little palapas along the way, showing off the baby and drinking more beer.
Patricia seemed like just the kindest person with the most pleasant demeanor, even drunk. Then, in a radical shift she'd completely turn into a very mean spirit and her face would change to more of a bitter scowl. I watched it happen in the SUV through the side mirror. She kissed the baby, then looked out into the void. Her face looked overcome with anger and she flung her glass out the SUV window. I heard it shatter on the rocks and then she smiled, kissed the baby again and cranked up the stereo to the point of distorted noise as she sang along.
I watched her lose it a couple more times on the folks working for her, and as soon as she'd lose it in a fit of rage, she'd turn back into sweet Patricia again.
The last time was the morning I'd left, one of the younger boys was looking after the baby and a younger girl was standing near. The baby started to cry and Patricia rushed over and smacked the boy after kicking him. The poor girl only guilty of being within striking distance caught Patricia's other hand across her face hard. I was standing right there and hadn't seen anything that warranted punishment at all. The baby just started crying. As far as I'm aware, this is simply what babies do sometimes isn't it?
It was all very awkward as Patricia chased down a third small boy and smacked him around too.
Then she helped prepare the breakfast I'd ordered, lit some candles in front of a portrait of the virgin, and then looked very pleasant as she sat down to read her bible.
As awkward as it was for me, it was fascinating to get a real glimpse into the daily routine of these people's lives. I figured Patricia was raising her own children, some of her grandchildren, and managing a couple employees while running a small restaurant. Pedro wasn't around much at all and I figured this was just their way. Who am I to judge?
The day before I hiked to another beach with blackened sand. I was completely alone and imagined being the last soul on the planet and missing all the people who were once here.
On the way back I stopped off at another small restaurant along the river's mouth to get a drink. I sat there for a couple hours and observed that family as well but saw nothing but kindness. Actually, just about every person I'd encountered so far in the state of Michoacan had been just the most friendly and kind people I've ever met.
I remember this same kindness when I passed through this region on a motorcycle several years ago. I thought maybe I'd just got lucky that time, but now I'm beginning to think kindness is just the norm in this area. That is, unless that baby starts to cry again. ;)
The city if Morelia is next, so stay tuned for more coming soon!
I'm also coming down to the final days of my Off The Deep End creative Kickstarter project. It's an all or nothing thing, so unless I reach my goal by the deadline which is coming up very soon, my project will be cancelled, none of my pledge backers will be charged, and my project will not be funded. I do love going off on adventures like this one and taking as many along virtually as I can. However, there are costs that I have to cover myself out of pocket. My hope is that you enjoy what I do and will help me continue by pledging your support. It's not a "donation" of sorts since I'm offering creative incentive awards of different levels in return. The awards are also priced below my usual pricing, so it's really a pretty good deal. You can get more info on how you can become an official backer and help me push this project over the finish line HERE