The two Canadians that argue on the beach sound something like this to my ears: “Jzar she plomb ber mayonaysa, mayonaysa!”
Only they are shouting it at each other.
Wayne, their American traveling companion is on the beach with me.
It is past midnight and my last evening in Sisal.
While Wayne can’t translate for me, he explains that Gil is pissed at Sylvie for getting drunk and breaking a jar of mayonnaise.
Gil breaks away from the argument and steps over to present his case to me in broken English. He has a sexy French accent.
“He comes home at night,” Gil explains, breathing heavy after the effort of shouting at Sylvie. “He is drunk on DosEquis, and when he has no more, he comes for mine and breaks a pot of my mayonnaise!”
I wonder aloud that a whole jar can even be procured in this village. For two months now, I have been purchasing my mayonnaise in a plastic baggie.
“That’s just it!“ Gil erupts. “I had to go all the way to Merida for it. On the bus!”
Gil is complaining about the only transport out of this region besides fishing boats and the mayor’s vintage Crown Victoria. It is a dilapidated school bus. For five pesos, you can take the hour and a half ride into the big city of Merida.
The school busses are deemed too unsafe for American students. Instead of junking them, these jalopies are sold to an enterprising outfit on the Yucatan Peninsula.
As soon as Gil says the word “Merida,” Sylvie comes rushing up,“Blah blah blah, Mayonaysa mayonaysa.”
They both start up again.
I met Wayne on a two-day train ride across the expanse of Mexico. He and his friends were robbed of their luggage, during a long stop for food vendors to peddle homemade tamales and Café con Leches.
I watched as two vendors seemed to block the three men that were chasing the thieves that skipped off with all of their possessions.
Wayne didn’t lose his money though. He bought me a stack of pancakes in the silver service club car.
The waiters still wore white gloves to serve on the Mexican Railway in the seventies. I am sure Wayne and I looked disheveled and incongruous in that Hollywood setting.
But we were American, and our white skin was like a strand of pearls. We went with everything.
Wayne and his two friends were headed to a popular resort town on the Yucatan coast.
I tried hard to convince Wayne that they were traveling to an overpriced tourist trap.
“Come to Sisal.” I insisted.
“You’ll see real Mexico, and it will be way cooler,” I promised.
I had never been to Sisal, and the students that had gone the previous year had not instructed me about it. I assumed since my school was going there, it had to be fantastic.
The French bickering sounds softer now, against the pounding of the waves hitting the sand.
The tide is pulling in.
We came to the beach to smoke a joint. Up until tonight, marijuana has been forbidden on the school trip. It hasn’t been prohibited out of moral dignity. No, it’s because the teens got busted with it the previous year. It was an expensive effort to keep them out of prison.
I’ve only been to this beach after dark on one other occasion:
The one restaurant in town is located on the edge of the sandy Playa, and I had dined on the deep-fried duck that night. It was only a three-minute walk back to my hammock dormitory.
I hadn’t taken many steps towards home before I had a mighty urge to empty my bowels.
Perhaps the grease they fried the duck in that night had been very old.
The restaurant had closed. It was so urgent that I opted to step over to the beach to dig a hole and shit in it.
But the moment I set foot on the sand I am surrounded by five or six teenaged boys that cannot believe their good fortune.
They have finally caught one.
They stand in a circle around me peppering me with simple questions, where do I live, where am I from? What am I called?
I try very hard to be polite, but I am certain if they don’t get out of my way soon I am going to burst into a cloud of wet stink.
I realize now that these boys mean to follow me until one of them gets lucky.
And that I am to be denied a solitary poop.
A cramp goes shooting through my lower abdomen, and I can feel a wind knocking on my intestines.
I sit down on the sand to avoid exploding in shit.
They sit down, still surrounding me.
“How many years have you?” “Do you have a bed in your country?” “What is a bed similar to?”
Finally, they run out of questions and for a minute we all sit in silence.
I am frantically trying to plan my escape.
One young man stares at the sky dreamily and says, “It’s a beautiful night.”
It WAS a beautiful night, and I am momentarily struck that this horny young teen, has the presence of mind to recognize it.
The other boys nod and murmur agreement.
I leap up and over the seated circle.
“I have to go now.” I plead loudly in English, like tourists do, to make Mexicans understand our language.
Maybe they think I am rude but I do not make it home unsoiled.
Wayne puts his arm around me and tries to steer me away from the mayonnaise argument. I can feel the direction this encounter is taking, and I try to decide what my next move is going to be.
Wayne is attractive in swarthy, mustached way. His dark curls dip into his warm brown eyes.
The trouble is that my friend is thirty years old and I have to wonder why he is bothering with fifteen-year-old me.
When we left Wayne and his gang on the train to head to Sisal, I never thought I would see those men again.
I was surprised to see the boys standing bewildered in the dusty center of the village, as the school bus pulled away.
They had replaced all their stolen clothing with regional wear. The trouble is, these fellows are big North Americans, and the Yucatan coast is made up of smaller indigenous men. All three of them are popping out of their clothing in a comical way.
Some time later, I will take sewing lessons from a lady in the center of the village that will adjust these men’s clothes in between selling cold soda out of a commercial cooler in her living room to her neighbors.
She had a working TV to watch as you sipped your refreshment.
Wayne turns me by my shoulders to face him. He kisses me deeply.
His tongue feels slippery and clumsy. His whiskers tear at my tender skin and he embraces me roughly.
Instinctively I know, this is an encounter I would not enjoy.
I back away and say, “I’m sorry, I have made a promise to someone.”
Wayne drops his arms in exasperation.
“We have all made promises,” he assures me.
The truth is, I hate to turn Wayne down. He has been Compadre to me this whole visit. He has treated me to many beers and meals since he has arrived. He even paid for the duck dinner that blew out of my behind so powerfully.
But it is late, and I am leaving very early to return to School.
I don’t want to imagine the hammock gymnastics.
Instead, I hold my hand up and silence him with a “Shh.”
I need to take in this experience. I am only fifteen and I realize that standing on such a pristine coast at this hour, so far from home, will be worth remembering.
I stare out at the water and inhale the salt air deeply. I strain my ears towards the crashing of the waves.
But all I can hear is “Mayonaysa! Mayonaysa.!”
Sisal, Yucatan, Mexico. March 1975