07 October 2013
October 6, 2013
Tubac is 50 miles south of Tucson and just 24 miles north of Nogales and the border of Mexico. Once a Spanish presidio and then a farming community, it is now mostly an artists' colony. The tiny village hosts a plethora of galleries, trinket shops, and places one can find beautiful Mexican pottery in a variety of bright colors. While still a desert we have left the Saguaro cacti behind. The terrain changes from dull tans and browns to tans and browns spattered with a touch of green. This is due to the fact that it lies in the Santa Cruz River Valley. I am told the Santa Cruz River runs through it but I have yet to see this illusive river. There are train tracks too. Last night, as I heard a train go by, I was reminded once again, of long ago and my first visit to Mexico.
It was the summer of 1968 and I was ten years old. We had recently moved back to the United States from Bangkok, Thailand. Dad was working for Lockheed at the time and they had transferred him to Tucson. As I recall, we drove down to Nogales and took a train from there to Mazatlan. This was my very first train trip and I was excited to be staying overnight in the sleeping car. Like most memories, they cannot be recalled exactly, but fade into images and impressions. I have three very distinct impressions of my time in Mazatlan. First, that it was a dusty town. (Remember, this was over 40 years ago. I hear it is a sprawling metropolis now.) Two, I had a new culinary experience. I tried my first mango and found I didn't like it. And three, I swam in the ocean with big, powerful waves.
Both my father and grandmother were swimmers. In fact, my Grandma Alice was a high diver. (She dove off the Burlington Bristol Bridge. Crazy! But that is another story.) Ironically, my mom can't swim at all. Me, I'm a fish and I had been taking swimming lessons all summer.
It was my brother, Jim, who taught me how to swim in the ocean. He would take my hand and lead me into the water where we would scurry fast through the breakers and then we would lift up, over and down the swells and wait for the next one, my head barely above the sea. It was great fun. Soon I was body surfing.
This day, I was body surfing when an undercurrent swept me up and tossed me violently about. Fortunately, my father had taught me to never fight the ocean. He told me to relax and just go with it and eventually it would release me. I tucked into a ball and instinctively covered my head with my arms and hands. Good thing, too, because I was thrown head first onto the ocean floor. I can only imagine what might have happened had I not protected my head. I pulled myself up and stumbled out of the ocean and onto the beach. I was, quite literally, shook up. Needless to say, there was no more swimming that day.
Mazatlan is one of our planned stops when we travel down the Gold Coast the winter of 2014/15. It will be interesting to revisit and see if I recognize anything that might awaken a lost memory.
Meanwhile, even here in Tubac, we continue to prepare for our journey. We bought a fold up wagon, extra water containers, and are inquiring about the proper insurance. We have been studying the charts and reading up on the various ports where we plan to stop. And we have been practicing Spanish. The other day, I asked the cashier to tell me in Spanish how much the groceries cost. Today, we had a conversation in Spanish with our waiter. I even felt brave enough to contact a Mexican marina by phone. But when the lady answered with a rapid flow of words, I was flustered and couldn't even begin to understand her. Except for "Buenas Tardes." I surrendered. "Hablas Ingles?" I asked.
Poco a poco.
On another note. For those people who want to know, Mom had a much better day today. She woke up bright and clear-eyed. She was much more lucid. We even took her to church. While we were there, one lady was particularly taken with Mom's presence. As we were leaving, she leaned over and said with emotion, "You are so very lucky to still have your mom in your life."
Indeed. We are very lucky.