Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Where I fell, but still not broken
Labels: Daily Grind
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
It's a long, desolate stretch of road between Campeche and Champotón, punctuated by occasional shacks perched precariously against the sea and lone vendors of coconuts. It's not a place most tourists see as they zoom down the new highway some miles from the coast, but it's a place that grabbed me, instantly taking me back to similar, desolate stretches of roadway along Nova Scotia's Atlantic Shore. Being close to the ocean is something that I have frequently taken for granted, but when I'm in the moment, it's something awe-inspiring. Christel and I used to walk along the malecón in Campeche at night, staring out at the vast blackness of the sea spread before us. So dark, yet beyond the pale, cities like Veracruz, Houston and New Orleans unfold. In Nova Scotia, it was the opposite; across the ocean was Africa, someplace unimaginable.
The beach at Champotón was rather unmemorable. My classmates and I made our marks, stretching out in the fleeting sun and taking occasional dips into the briny water.
The beach was marked with the occasional oil-motor bottle, and near the road, a large dead turtle splayed out across a wooden plank. It had died in netting and washed up on shore, left as a grim reminder of the shortness of life in the deep ocean. It was disturbing, yet at the same time, utterly fascinating. How could something so magnificent could be felled by a simple net? In the battle between the sustenance of the people and the life of animals, the latter seemed to have little chance of winning.
We didn't have a particular reason for going to Champotón but to relax, so that's what we did. I was having a particularly hard time adjusting to life in Southern Mexico, so the day-trip was a release. I was living by myself, although I had, nominally, a host-mother. A money-grubber she, I was put up in a house on the edge of the city, an hour bus-ride from the university. As if that weren't bad enough, I didn't have a fridge, a stove, or even electricity. Over the weeks I had been living there, I became completely cut off from the world outside of my daily university classes. At night, I would return home to a dark house, dodging the tarantulas on the street that had crawled up from the jungle below. I entered the baking house and laid down on my sweaty bed, listening intently to a small radio, catching the occasional radio transmission from Texas at night, but mostly just static. I eventually went to the local Chedraui and bought myself laundry detergent and a rope so I could at least wash my clothes. And every few days I would do just that, sitting on the floor of the bathroom, scrubbing my clothes in an old cement bucket to rid them of that smell and hanging them out back, praying that it wouldn't rain so that I would have something to wear the next day. I count the month that I lived in that house as one of the toughest & loneliest of my life.
After a few hours spent lazing around the beach, the wind had turned cool and the sky morbidly dark. In the distance, waterspouts flirted with the shoreline, prompting us to make a retreat to a safer area. Suddenly, we were summoned to a sandy knoll by a few people from the university in Campeche. Our purpose at the beach was to be realized: with tired hands, they dug into the sand — searching, pulling. What emerged was beautiful: tiny turtles. Our mission was to give them a chance at survival.
In handfuls, we carefully picked up the clawing, reptilian beasts. The nibbled and scratched, at once both irritating and entirely endearing. We were given strict instructions to take them to the shoreline, place them on the sand, and do no more. If they didn’t walk towards the water, we were not to move them because it could interfere with their inborn sense of direction. The turtles knew what to do, we just had to get them to the water.
With several in hand, I walked to the water, overwhelmed by the experience. I placed one down on the sand, and slowly, it stumbled towards the water. And the second, and the third, and the fourth. Instinctively, they swam forth to destinations unknown, doing just as generations before them had. Seagulls circled overhead, looking for a tasty snack, but the dark conditions greatly inhibited their hunting capabilities.
I had just one turtle left, but as I was about to lower him into his sandy escape, I noticed that his shell was deformed. I asked one of the university students if that would hurt him and, bluntly, they admitted that it would: he was one of the ones unlikely to grow into adulthood. At that moment, I considered putting him into my pocket and going home, giving him a chance to live, but decided that there was no other fate but the one stretched out before the both of us. I lowered him onto the sand, stepped back, and watched nervously as he made his way towards the water. At he reached the edge, he stalled, then turned back, seemingly confused. As much as I wanted to turn him around and point him in the right direction, I couldn’t — it was sink or swim, so to speak.
We later asked the students from the university why they protected the turtles as they did, and that explained that this particular species was on the brink of extinction. In the wild, they would have a 1 in 1000 chance of survival, but their incubation and release technique doubled those odds. Off all of the turtles we released, only one would return to the same beach to produce the next generation. The rest would meet grisly fates — they would drown, or be eaten.
At the shoreline, the turtle with the deformed shell took his first steps into the water, seconds before a wave washed him away. As the remaining rays of sunlight danced on the surface, the sea was awash in black specks swimming furiously to destinations unknown, fighting to be the one to return.
Later that night, as I scrubbed my clothes in the old cement bucket, my thoughts kept returning to that turtle.. Was he still alive? Would he be the one to return? Would he meet the same fate as the fascinatingly grotesque turtle on the wooden plank? He stayed in my thoughts even as I went to bed, the static of the radio slowly lulling me to sleep.
Monday, September 07, 2009
29 years ago at this very minute...
Labels: From Whence I Came
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Taking back control
- Be more physically active. OSU has a fantastic gym, so why don't I use it more? Because I'd rather be at home, shoving chocolate into my face, that's why. Do this 4x per week, right after I finish teaching at 8:30 a.m. Speaking of which....
- Try to become less hateful in the morning. Yes, the 8:30 a.m. teaching assignment ranks right up there cleaning behind the fridge with things I actually want to to, but it's only 10 weeks. 10 long, hateful weeks.
- Eat chocolate at 8:25 a.m.
- Be more responsible with money. My income is fixed at $1325/mth, so really, this can't be that hard. Usually, if I have some left at the end of the month, it's cause for celebration. The alcohol takes care of the money-overflow.
- Take left-over money and send back to Canada. Pay off credit cards. Like, really.
- Speaking of which, WTF is up with Bank of Montreal upping my credit limit to $11,000? I would call them and tell them that I barely make that much in a year if I didn't think a credit limit of 11k was so entirely cool.
- Cook on Sundays, eat throughout the week. This is key. I throw away too much food because we eat out, and I really feel guilty for all of the kids in Africa who have no food to throw out at all.
- Note: Mail week-old tomatoes to Nigeria.
- Simply phone numbers. Right now, there's a Skype number, a vonage number, and a cell number. And Marco's phone. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Except for the last two.
- Be a better friend. Get over persistant "they probably don't want to talk to me anyway" syndrome. Because really, I'm feeling cut-off.
- Stop buying useless things. Like Diet Coke. Yes, the DC has to go.
Labels: Starting Over
Thursday, August 06, 2009
The cucumber runneth dry
I'm also eating cucumber. Cucumber which I cut up 3 days ago, and is already very dry. Like "oh- my-god, I-didn't-know-that-cucumber-could-get-stuck-in-my-throat" dry. And now I've decided to return to blogger.
- A weight loss journal. When I originally started this blog, I was a tad bulimic and anorexic, and became thin! But because I ruined my metabolism (which felt so good at the time), the weight came all back. I haven't gained any weight in a year, and I'm not some kind of jelly-blob, but it's time to start taking it off again. Hence eating FUCKING DRY cucumber. I'm minus 6.5 pounds at the moment.
- A journal of funny links I find on the internet. But hey, that's been done before.
- A celebutard blog. I shall call myself Clisted. You know, like Dlisted, but more geared towards the grade I'm going to finish my degree with unless I get my ass in gear.
- Did I mention that the cucumber is dry?
- A recipe blog! Probably not.
- A academic revue-type journal. However, given that I'm barely interested in academia as it is...
Labels: Starting Over
Monday, July 20, 2009
Some to come