Don Julio walked past me, slipping between the shadows, whispering a pleasant "Mahalo" between my ears.

"Mexico, Don Julio," I said, "Estamos en Mexico."

"Oh right." And after a pause: "Bienvenido."


The sun had just begun its slow descent below the horizon, and the fishes chasing the waves through the deep waited until it dipped into the sea so that they could chase it down to the ocean depths.

The best times, the sun would explain as it lazily sank through the ocean floor before popping up to warm the water buffalo herds on the other side, come on those nights when you know that paradise, however undefined its boundaries, surrounds you and sends hermit crabs to walk among your feet and pelicans to swish your hair.

The fish would open and close their mouths, rapidly, perhaps begging the sun to continue its wisdom, perhaps having little better to do at that exact moment.

We strolled along some more, Don Julio and I, measuring our steps against the pot holes longing for any hint of maintenance.

Would you give up hot showers every day for this, I could hear Don Julio thinking in his head.

I don't know, I would answer him if he asked.

Or accept the idea of always having to brush your teeth with Cristal, the best agua purificada in the Caribbean, he would follow.

Don't drink the water, I would hum in reply.

Mosquito bites?

85 degree days in the waning moments of November?

It would all seem so fantastical, I would have to explain to Don Julio.

But then of course, the substitution of one hermit crab for a different type of scurrying. The disappearance of fine lines, of tomorrow overwhelming the Sundays and Mondays and turning itself into every day, of living on Gatorade and guacamole. Fantastical for a time, perhaps, until the days return, not of cold loneliness, but rather a sweltering plague driving you back inside to dependency on machines and manufactured comfort.

One and the same, I would ultimately have to break it to Don Julio, I mused.

But we pass on in silence, Don Julio fading away into my hair, his intangible fantasy of sorts replaced by five fingers intertwined in mine and a pair of flip-flops keeping time on the beat-up road back to the hacienda.

Quietly continuing on, sharing a silent smile and common wonder whether we should cast this memory in color or black and white, what tones we wanted to capture and emphasize, how timeless we wanted ourselves to appear.

The lazy clouds above would decide some other time, would allow this moment to belong to its pinks and purples as it melts into twilight and asks you what's for dinner, making you want to really mean it this time when you say anything sounds fine to me.

Flip-flop. Flip-flop.

All for another time, when the day will start and end over and over, one breezy evening bringing another lazy morning. For some day perhaps, when what we think we appreciate now in small spurts can truly become something understood at its own value, existent on a plane closer to our own.

And then, perhaps we can walk down this beaten road again together, keeping flip-flop time with the palms fronds, fingers interlaced. And maybe then we can invite Don Julio to walk all the way back to the hacienda with us.