Cuba, September 10, 2003
Claudette checks in from Playa del Carmen
Editor's Note: My friend Claudette is on Playa del Carmen this month, resting up after a summer touring with Jane's Addiction, and has graciously allowed me to post her briefs from the beach.|
Wayan Natural Wear
by Claudette on Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Eight forty-eight in the morning and the world remains closed for Playa del Carmen is a midnight rave on the sundial that is the Mayan Riviera. Just a few hours ago, this very street was crowded with bronzed Europeans celebrating their freedom from work and their love of two-for-one margaritas. It feels more like I'm on holiday in Milan than in Mexico, and that's okay, for I'm soaking it all in just the same.
Remarkably, the streets are clean though I look up ahead and see the reason. A short man in blue work trousers sweeps the gutters along 5th Avenue, the main drag in Playa del Carmen. Still, the trash is less than it could be for such a booming place and the sweeper keeps moving the rubbish along with his broomstick of gold.
Within a few minutes, the shopkeepers begin to haul out their wares, and I am determined not to buy anything but the mangoes I desire. I'm on a quest for fruit, which is not as easy to find as XXL Corona tees or cheap replicas of Mayan ruins. I keep walking and the temperature keeps rising, nearly ninety degrees just before nine.
As I pass the street sweeper, I look up and read the awning of one of the many shops still sporting the cerrado sign on the front door. 'Wayan Natural Wear' the placard reads. The shop offers me no window through which to peek inside, so I have to guess at what's being sold. Sure, Balinese logic would say that its probably filled with sarongs of dancing geckos and batik hippie clothes, but who needs logic when imagination can be so much more interesting?
Could Wayan be a magic shop selling crystals and cards to alter the past and foretell the future? Could it be one of the many smoke shops that line the avenue vending hand-rolled Cuban cigars? Or perhaps it's an old bookshop peddling second-hand English novels like Catcher in the Rye to expats on holiday? My God...maybe it sells mangoes! My stomach growls. Should I wait and see what emerges when the shop is ready for business or should I keep moving? I'm torn.
In this town of lush vegetation and swamp-like heat, I find a storefront bearing your name easier than I can find the tropical breakfast I desperately crave. Go figure. Thankfully, my morning ritual of black coffee and dry toast has already become familiar food to the gods living deep inside my belly.