Paving the road to nowhere, one word at a time.

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Location: Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

American born, living in Mexico since 1992.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

The Sound Of Sunday

I remember when I was a young boy, maybe seven or eight years old, and I used to lie in bed at night and listen to the Rainbird sprinkler watering our lawn. I had a small portable AM radio, there was no such thing as portable FM back then. On some of the deep-summer nights when the Los Angeles Dodgers played away and early - and either the California Angels were also away or I didn’t care to tune in – the radio would stay in the drawer. My thoughts would be accompanied by the working sound made by the ingenious design of the Rainbird.


Dad always waited until the sun went down, then went out and systematically watered the lawn. Accompanied by his tall can of Olympia beer, every half-hour or so the location and direction of the sprinkler would have to be changed in order to get the proper coverage. That lawn was better than any fairway I’ve ever seen anywhere, thanks to the mighty Rainbird.

The cool green lawn on hot deep-summer days underneath the shade of the trees was partially the result of that sprinkler, and mostly of my father’s diligence in lawn care. But still, that one little mechanical machine, driven by something as simple as water pressure, etched into my memory so deeply as to think about that right now. In contrast to all of the random sounds of the colonia - tamale hawkers and banda music and the rattling of the fiberglass sheet roof over the washing machine – I can distinctly hear the call of the Rainbird.

"…kleh-kleh-kleh-klehk-tlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrtlrt – Kleh-kleh-kleh-kleh-kleh…"

Then again, what with one-hundred degree heat and a strong and hot Santa Ana blowing south, it could always be nothing more than wishful thinking.

* * * *

One thing that I love about having a Monday off, is that I get to go to our local sobre ruedas and shop the open-air market. Even when I find nothing to buy, looking through piles of mostly junk in search of that used cast iron skillet or old book or two-foot long seventeen millimeter box-wrench, I love the atmosphere and the smell of the wonderful food and the eclectic bright colors and so on.

And the sounds.

"Nopales, tres-cincuenta por kilo!"

Music from some booth blasts loudly as the hawkers fight for room to launch their pitch.

"Señores y señoras, sí hay pescado fresco, barato y listo para cocinar!"

Even little nieve carts sell Mexican snow-cones to children and adults alike. The entire colona seems to show up. The young señoritas, especially in this heat, are stunning in their scantily clad forms. Automobiles move slowly through the crowd with no other choice than to be very patient.

And I will start at seven tomorrow morning, walking up to the birria stand and thinking about Ian and Sammy while enjoying some tacos de birria.

I miss them, and I bet that they miss tacos de birria.

* * * *

The largest state, ironically, in the Republic of Mexico, is the state of Chihuahua. One of the smallest breeds of dog is also called a Chihuahua.

How about that?

Chapis quit La Fuente bar, her replacement is from Chihuahua. I taught her how I like my scotch poured Friday night. Two ice-cubes. I have my own glass, by the way, a gift from Miguel who happened upon it one day and knew that I would appreciate a glass of scotch actually served in a scotch-glass.

Thanks, Miguel.

I drank Tecate and Chivas Regal until Wally finally showed up and we pretended to play pool in the back room, but we mostly talked about everything from work to women to beer to how subtle the differences are in the flavor of tacos from the tacos varios carts along Calle Constitución. We finally left just before midnight, but I was far too tired for tacos.

He went for some good tacos de chile rellenos and I opted to catch a taxi libre home, where I wondered about which sounds that Wally grew up with to accompany his thoughts.

In all likelihood, they are the same sounds that I am hearing right now.

"Elote, hay elote!"

And the small steam whistle makes an alarmingly loud call of its own.



Anonymous ian said...

hey... i miss you too, amigo...

can't recreate the birria still... hehehe... maybe juan should tell you about the paris redlight... lol... hey, i read you man...

you be good, man... who knows... it's been a while since i've been in your neighbourhood...


5:25 AM, July 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have not read your older stuff it;sgood john

9:58 PM, May 29, 2009  

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