Chanclas y conchitas | Flip flops and shells

 cobertizo

— This post was originally written in Spanish.  Scroll down for the English translation! —

Una de las partes que más extraño de nuestra vida mexicana es el pueblito veracruzano en donde viven los parientes de Aron.  Este pequeño pueblo se ubica justo al sur de la frontera entre Tamaulipas y Veracruz.  Fuimos de visita cada primavera durante mis primeros tres años viviendo en México.  Ya después, la inseguridad en todo el pais — debida a los enfrentamientos criminales, desconfianza en las fuerzas armadas y la policía, y la delincuencia en general (tal como matanzas, robos, extorción, secuestros, y violaciones de mujeres) — básicamente nos desanimó de ir dondequiera.  Entonces, no hemos vuelto a visitar por unos años.

Y uno de los detalles que más valoro de estar cerca de la costa a lo mejor a Ud. le suena tontito: el cobertizo en donde nos bañamos.

Hecho de tablas, palos, hojas de palma, y otras materiales, el cobertizo es chueco pero estable.  Lo utilizan como almacén, pero también hay un espacio en donde uno puede pararse y, bajando la lona para crear un poco de privacidad (aúnque las primitas de Aron a veces andaban por ahí con curiosidad cuando me bañaba, al principio), se baña.

El agua no sale calientita de la llave; de hecho, ni hay llave en el cobertizo.  Como en muchísimos hogares del México que conozco, para bañarse, primero hay que llenar una cubeta con el agua y dejar que se caliente debajo del sol.  Luego, uno agarra una taza o un tazón con que se echa el agua sobre el cuerpo para limpiarse.

Me gusta el cobertizo no por su belleza física sino por el sentimiento de refrescarme en una zona el pais donde hace mucho calor y donde el aire nunca está seco, durante casi todo el año.

Las conchas se encuentran en todos lados por ahí.  La mayoría de los residentes del pueblito viven de la pesca, y ellos mismos abren losabriendo ostiones y las almejas, resultando en que haya conchas por todos lados de los terrenos y las calles del pueblo.  Entonces, no es sorprendente que las conchas también cubren el suelo del cobertizo.

Y cuando me meto a ducharme, me gusta quitarme las chanclas — las cuales normalmente no se quitan porque previenen que uno se corte los piecitos al caminar sobre las conchas — y cuidadosamente sentir las conchas frescas (mojadas por el agua) en mis pies.

Al salir del cobertizo, ¡cualquier briza fresca se siente tan rica!  Para mí no hay mucho mejor que éso en el mundo.

————————- English translation: ————————-

One of the parts about our Mexican life that I most miss is the little Veracruz village where Aron’s relatives live.  This little town is located just to the south of the border between Tamaulipas and Veracruz.  We went to visit each spring during my first three years living in Mexico.  Then afterward, the insecurity all over the country — due to criminal disputes, lack of trust in the armed forces and police, and general delinquency (such as killings, robberies, extortion, kidnappings, and rapes) — basically discouraged us from going anywhere.  So we haven’t been back to visit for a couple years.

And one of the details that I most value about being close to the coast will probably sound silly to you: the shed where we bathed.

Made of boards, sticks, palm leaves, and other matierals, the shed is crooked yet stable.  It is used for storage, but there is also a space in which a person can stand and, lowering the tarp to create a little privacy (even though Aron’s little cousins sometimes wandered around there while I bathed, when I first arrived), bathe.

The water does not come out hot from the faucet; in fact, there is no faucet in the shed.  As with many households in the Mexico that I know, in order to bathe, first one must fill a bucket with water and allow it to warm up under the sun.  Then, one grabs a cup or bowl with which to pour the water over the body in order to clean off.

I like the shed not for its physical beauty but rather for the feeling of cooling off in a part of the country where the air is hot and never dry, throughout most of the year.

Shells are found all over the place.  The majority of the residents of the village live off of fishing, and the residents themselves pry open the oysters and clams, resulting in shells covering the properties and streets of the village.  So it is not surprising that the shells also cover the floor of the bathing shed.

And when I enter the shed to bathe, I like to take off my flip flops — which one normally does not remove because they prevent getting feet cut up when walking across the shells — and carefully feel the cool shells (wet from the bath water) on my feet.

Leaving the shed, any cool breeze that passes feels so wonderful!  To me, there is not much better in the world than this feeling.

 

4 thoughts on “Chanclas y conchitas | Flip flops and shells

  1. Beautiful memories. I have a love/hate relationship with what I call bucket baths. In Nicaragua my husband made me a “shower” with four sticks and some tarp with a rock in the middle to stand on to prevent the mud from splashing (too much) on my newly bathed body as I poured water over my head. I loved the cool water on a hot day. I found myself a little downcast and a little OCD on the days that there was no water and I missed my bucket baths. Those were the days that I loved them the most, the days when I couldn’t have one!

    • I totally get what you mean about being OCD in that type of situation! I relate it to being kind of like camping: surrounded by so much beauty, except all the while I am anxious about scraping the grime from underneath my fingernails, lol.

      Thanks once again for sharing your perspective. I think a rock like you mention would work better to prevent mud-splash than the shells (because of all the moisture, the shells sink in and mud still splashes)…

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