Never sure why sunrises and particularly sunsets become so important when you are at the shore, but our seven rises and seven sets became a daily ritual; mine in the morning just before 7:30 and all of ours in the evening just before 5:30 with chairs drawn up together as we all bore witness least the sun should fail to flee if unwatched. Perhaps it’s being at sea level where our horizons were open and expansive and uninterrupted and obvious? But each rise and each set seemed enormously and surprisingly new and profound as if each turn was acknowledging the dieing cycle of the eventful year that was soon to depart.
In this land of drought, desert, dust, all drenched in beige and brown, reside a people mostly living without, except with a richness of color which they appear quite unthreatened by. Loud, saturated citrus orange, jalapeño red, azul blue, tart lime, bold purples, rustic terracotta set against a backdrop of dull. If you have nothing, then at least you have color. The Casa and Casita in the harshness of daylight were suitably rustic, beach simple with terracotta and ceramic tile on floor, on countertop, in bathroom and in bedroom in a kaleidoscope of chaotic clashing colors, but also analogous hues. “Coordinated” yellow dining chairs painted with each spindle defined separately and each seat cushion in crude, bold patterns. It is a colorful state-of-mind.
But, in this cacophony of color, things in the Casita were also discordant. In a rental that had not seen occupancy since March partly due to a combination of perviously inflated prices, exaggerated property expectations, a sudden economic and property collapse and a growing fear by North Americans towards Mexico; there had been little maintenance and a depletion of funds in the management account. There was no heat the first night, no toilet seat in my bathroom, little water and finally no hot water at all. But kindness and generosity toiled hard over three days to mend what was amendable with the rest left to acceptance, an altered vacation state of mind and the use of the main house facilities. This was true, rustic beach living in the end.
Puerto Penasco is a combination of the original ‘Old Town’ on the peninsular with new growth that fans out along the shore both northward and southward. Our first excursion took us look-see shopping in Old Town back along dusty roads northward from the southerly Las Conchas along Camino A Las Conchas, down Fremont, Carretera Federal 8 to Circunvalación, (meaning ring road,) and the fish market. Surprisingly, these people with such an admirable work ethic and singularly responsible for every North American manicured lawn, clipped hedge, blown walkway, pruned shrub could seem to have no concern for order and neatness at home. Here luxury homes compete for crocked space with others festooned with re-bar headwear to indicate their tax less and incomplete state, shanty huts, commercial enterprises and the odd homeless lean-to. No one seems to notice nor mind that the roads are dangerous when traveled above a docile speed where every motorist passes you two-at-a-time, with numerous pot holes many inches deep, standard sand corrugations and even cement block sewers the size of small cars that sudden appear perilously before you and inches above the ground ready to take out your undercarriage.
But in keeping with this stellar work ethic, every single person is selling or vending or encouraging or persuading or cajoling. From Señor Security, orange jacketed, arms waving, guiding you into a parking bay where he is happy to inform you that he will, never fear, watch your car whilst you shop … for the consideration of a tip of course. Sweet faced and golden skinned children who mingle and mix between traffic and tables selling hand-made bangles, beads, brooches. Shop stall owners who insist that they are selling exactly what you were expecting and wished to purchase on this particular day. The waiter, one block and three flights down from his Iguana Banana, grass roofed and shell floored restaurant enticing with a lunchtime menus that included Margarita, fresh Taco, beans and a small salad for five US dollars. If you don’t have business, you simply go out and acquire it.
And indeed, here at the Wrecked apparel and general store along Circunvalación and the ocean break water, I found my perfect Panama. Understanding that Arizonans suffer skin cancer mostly down the left, (driver’s,) side of the face, particularly the ear and down to the forearm; I have long wanted and needed to protect my ears especially and to find a hat, unlike baseball caps, that breathe and would ventilate my naked head, but that did not leave me looking like a Chinese farmer at rice harvest nor a pretend cowboy spectating on rodeo day. Who knew that indeed one of these asserting vendors did have exactly what I was unknowingly shopping for on this particular day?