We went back a few days later to watch the sunset and he was leaving.
"Are you closed?" we asked.
He shrugged his shoulders and said, "I have no walls."
Over the years we have met the woman who became his wife, we have met his three children, I held one of the girls a few days after she was born. We have heard the stories of Rogelio's life, his struggles, his joys. He has heard ours. He met Jessie and Vergil the last time we were here. So when we walked in, he looked up and saw me. His eyes grew large and he got out of his chair and came to me and clasped me to him.
"Senora!" he said. "Senora, Senora, mi amiga."
And then Glen was hugged and he told us, as he always does, that he was just thinking of us, wondering when he would see us again. His beautiful wife, Elsie, was there doing the books and I went to her and we hugged too and talked about our children, caught up a little bit. Yes. I cried again.
And I must tell you that over the course of the time we were there, Rogelio cried as well. He struggles in this life with marriage, with family, with his deeply-felt religion, with his demons. But as he always says, "We are here. We are alive."
He, like us, is dealing with the results and ravages of age. A hand which has required surgery. Cervical discs which pain him and cause problems. Daughters who are coming of age. And when we are together, we talk of all of it. We go straight to it. He said something today to me like, "You can't talk to everyone about these things."
And I told him, "I have no interest in shallow social interactions. If I can't share my heart, I am not interested."
He got it.
Here we are all together. Glen and I had been snorkeling and then the wind blew up and it got chilly and I had the towel wrapped around me and looked absurd but here we were. Today. This is what we looked like. All of us alive. Happy to see each other.
They are always so surprised at how tall Glen is. All of the Mayans find him incredibly amusing. We went to Mega tonight, the BIG grocery store,
and a little girl told him that he was muy grande, even bigger than her papa. We all smiled.
The snorkeling was good. The reefs have suffered since we first came here. The cruise ships, global weather changes, Hurricane Wilma. But there was color, there were fish. There is something so otherworldly in putting on those fins, that mask, that snorkel and dipping one's head down into the water, gliding off. The only sound that of your breathing and the surf crashing on the shore just a few yards away. The corals where the tiny fish spend their nursery days, the sea urchins, the barracudas hiding in the crags and caves. The colors of the fish pastel pinks and blues and greens or neon blues and blacks and yellows. They dart and fly through the water and when we went out deeper where the floor of the ocean drops many feet I looked at my husband as he dove down and came up, surrounded by a school, like a flock, of Sargent Majors and it was ethereal, the vast blue, the man rising up in the cloud of fishes.
We got out of the water, chilled. Our lips were swollen with salt. We ordered a beer and quesadillas with shrimps and we ate every bite, and drank bottles of water and then sat with Rogelio and Elsa some more and talked, talked, talked. The rain came up as I said and the wind blew like a hurricane and it was beautiful. Elsa said they haven't had any rain and although their business suffers when the weather is bad, they appreciate the rain as do we at home in Florida.
When we asked Elsa how business was, she shrugged and said, "It's enough for beans."
Yes. But they have three children, one of whom wants to go to law school, two daughters who may want to do anything in this world and Rogelio says, "It is my duty to send them to college. I will do it."
The cruise ship people get taxis to the beach club and they all wear their flotation devises and there is a guy who gives them a short lecture on how to snorkel and they do and then they do not buy food, they do not buy beer, and what can you do?
Rogelio is tending the corals on his property, in his stretch of water, but he says, "I can do no more than that." And he is resigned but proud of what he has managed to save.
We drove home through the rain, slowly, slowly and carefully on the moped and ate some nachos at the restaurant here at the Blue Angel. Delicious. And then we took another nap. My god, we are sleeping so much. We got up and played some cards and watched the sunset, such as it was, and then drove into town and had our supper at a place we have been going for many years. Abuelo Gerardo's. I had snapper, Mr. Moon had pork chops. We were tended to most solicitously and here is a picture of my favorite vegetable on earth.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bring it on. I eat it on everything. I never grow tired of it.
Yesterday I made the mistake of eating TWO KINDS of incredibly hot peppers, one plain and one in a salsa.
Here's the thing with peppers- like most things in life, they afford you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. Not once, but twice, and perhaps even three or four times. And yet, I make the same mistake over and over, taking the waiters' warnings about heat with a casual disregard, going for the endorphin rush of it all. I sat there yesterday thinking, "Okay. I may die now. I have blistered my lips, my tongue, my mouth." And yet, I did not die. And finally and slowly the burn diminished although not much longer from then, I was reminded again.
Well. So what? And the restaurant here serves a salsa which I have never seen before, a sort of finely crushed red peppers in oil and I am quickly becoming addicted. That I can handle. It is nothing compared to the Serrano's, the habenero's.
The best things in life may bite you back. Peppers, tequila (which I have not availed myself of very much at all) and love.
And yet, they worth the pain for the passion and rush they bring us.
It is time for bed.
Bite the pepper. Be prepared for the after burn. Share your heart. Don't be afraid to drive through the rain. Go see old friends. Keep your eyes out for that which may amaze you.
Don't be afraid to cry and don't be afraid to hug someone who is crying. Smile at children, say "Buenos noches" to the guy walking down the street. Breathe with the ocean as it washes the rocks at the shore over and over again. Drift in parallel to the fishes and be still and float above and as one with it all.
You will be rewarded.
That's what I think tonight.