The moon is full to bursting as I take my evening constitutional at 9:30 p.m. The security guard knows what I do at this time of night, but stops me in friendly fashion anyway, to tell me the waiter Marco is looking for me to see if I want food. “Quiero caminar,” I tell him. I want to walk. Probably he thinks, Another weird Canadian.
Yeah, right. Marco knows darned well I dined and socialised as usual at the taco bar across the street, whose Canadian proprietor he has allegedly been courting. Hmm…the plot thickens, but that’s their world, not mine. I walk on, through the thick warm darkness, alternately admiring the odd stray lamp highlighting outrageously pink hibiscus or bougainvillea flowers and marveling over how quickly the stars bow out of the sky in deference to the fulsome moon.
Tomorrow night the moon’s going to get it, apparently. For the first time, allegedly, in about a thousand years, there will be a lunar eclipse on an equinox, from one a.m. until three. Okayyyyy…..! The salsa music will doubtless grind into existence again about midnight, and if I have any brains, which is doubtful at this point in the vacacciones, I will take a siesta tomorrow during the day in order to survive la noche.
I love my night walk at least as much as the dawn walk. Even Earth’s gradual acquiescence to the sun’s warmth cannot compare to the varied blankets of darkness that envelop the walker from one esquina to the next. There are few if any streetlights, although here and there a wealthier landowner has put up a light, or left the gate open an extra hour, or lit a commercial sign. Sidewalks are narrow where they exist at all, and exhibit interesting features, like holes, or depressions for the convenience of run-off, or sudden slopes into, not out of, private property. Cuidarse! Walker, beware!
Supposedly, night prowling is not safe, but hey, what can they take from an old plump broad with nothing on her but a pair of flop flops and an old Hawai’ian rayon tube dress? I mean, Hey, come back tomorrow morning and steal some English lessons from me—something worth stealing!
The surf is already pounding, but gently. As the night builds, so will the drumbeat of the surf. I have already dreamt of waking on a floating bed. It could happen—it has already happened, costing the hotel owners, a pair of fried ‘Murricans, an alleged $70K after the last hurricane. Every morning the hotel is situated on more of a cliff over the ocean. Apparently in January, the ocean will relent and bring back all the purloined sand—if the ocean is still sane, still the same as it was in the past—and no one is sure about that any more.
I remember with affection my geography professor who emphasised to us that lakes and beaches and other water features are all temporary phenomena on the Earth’s crust, but human life is so short that we perforce argue with that idea. The notion that we ourselves are temporary is unbearable, after all. Even a bloody-minded iconoclast can’t live with it.
Where are you, Ivan Smith? And why have you written nothing that stares us in the face? You were wonderful!
Along the way, stepping on and off the curbs to miss the broken pavement, purposeful holes, oddities, and dark soft blobs probably left by mammals besides ourselves, one meets dark, amorphous shapes. “Hola!” or “Buena noches” (not correct, but no one gives a shit here) turns a menacing lump into a fellow dweller instantly. Moonlight erases the differences so evident in daylight, and we are all simply human.
People are lovely here. Yes, apparently thievery is rampant, but less so here in the north—I chose well in choosing Leon. I’ve been careful and so far have met with nothing but kindness and friendliness, which I trust I have returned.
It is so quiet. The voices of individuals carry out on the staves of night, short melodies of content. I hear Wendy the Amazing Singing Dog produce one operatic line for the stars before, presumably, Max the Grouch shushes her. Two humans on one bike whush past in the soft dirt. A dog surveys an empty lot on the beach and digs itself a bed from a spot where it can keep an eye on the phosphorescent surf.
The mad, mad, mad, mad world seems a solar system away.
I come home to my tawdry hotel and sit down to write this with a glass of decent Chilean wine at my elbow. But the salsa music has begun now. It is time to dance under the shining moon.