Finally, I am parked although I’m pretty sure there is not going to be enough sun here. It is really peaceful and calm, very close to the ocean, quiet, maybe ½ mile from the main part of the pueblo, so I do hope enough sun will beam for me thru the lovely palm trees.
The old granny has shuffled her chair closer to my truck, and Joana appears with a plate of food for her. I discretely watch her eat, as a couple of chickens and a dog scurry to rest around her swollen feet, anticipating their share her meal.
Joana beckons from the edge of her property across the street, where she has wrested a plastic chair. I take it from her hands to the shady spot she indicates and get my stool from the truck.
We sit and begin to talk. Joana shows me her leg just above her ankle, the one she favors. Now I see it is twice the size of the other foot, and along scar runs down the outside. I see her feet are also gnarled in that arthritic way, mirroring great granny’s.
I can’t figure out how many children Joana has, or how many are still around, besides Javier which I THINK she says is the oldest but doesn’t make that much sense to me.
Joana tells me she’s lived here all her life and I think she is 71 years old. Her leg hurts her and she tells me more about it but I can’t understand.
Suddenly Joana throws up her head as if she has just heard something, and tells me there are many bad people around. She furtively begins to start in different directions.
I notice her eyes don’t line up and I have difficulty knowing which eye is looking at me, which eye to look at.
When I’m not duly terrified, she pulls her plastic arm chair closer and motions toward the pueblo, secretively, barely above a whisper, telling me a womon’s throat was slashed – as her eyes bulge and her checks appear to sink in the farther she draws her finger across her neck.
I try to confirm, she’s talking about a womon here, in this little town. Yes Joana insists, her esposo has killed her. I think it was a couple of weeks ago, but I’m not sure.
Then she tells me there are violent boys, adolescent males, who are ‘malo’, bad. They are staying in the village. I cannot go out, especially at night, I must stay home and do I have a lock on my door?
This is a womon who sleeps in a hammock between tree trunks under palm leaves, brilliant stars, and the ocean breeze.
This is also a womon whose eyes have grown piercing together, and her checks, still sunk in, have a slight tremor all the way to her protruding chin.
I try to change the subject, to tell her I have a daughter and I can show her pictures but Joana is on a rave. She tells me men love to fight, to kill, to torture and I should be careful. How can I travel sola with so many bad men around?
I show her my muscle and try to send calm energy around her, as I place my hand on her quivering arm.
I tell her I will be right back and I run to my truck and get my photo album. When I return, Joana seems a little calmer. Or maybe it’s the maniacal smile touching her lips that softens her face.
She tells me my speaking Spanish is not very good and maybe I read Spanish better – probably because I want her to spell the words for me I don’t understand.
When she realizes I read Spanish, she beckons me to come with her. I pick up her chair and carry it across the road, following her to the third building at the far end of her property.
I see it is a bedroom with two lovely wooden bed frames, in the far dark corner, that are antiques and matching, standing high off the cement floor. Each bed has heavy duty mosquito netting bunched around it, leaving me to wonder if there’s a body in the bed.
She reaches inside the door, where a small matching dresser sits, loaded with papers. Even from peering around her shoulder, I can tell she is pulling out the jesus christ shit.
I protest, telling her I have already told her I am jewish and a lesbian. She wants me to read her Spanish bible that has a laminated cover with that dead man on a dead stick in the middle and soft pastel colors of sheep, flowers and other imagines – I don’t want to study long.
I assure her I have read this book – in english – several times. She is doing the darting eyes and drawn in cheeks again. She finds other little books, mary and this virgin and that, and tries to pawn them off on me.
I look into her shrinking eyes and ask her, why do YOU believe in the god of the conquistadors. She is momentarily slowed, finally agrees but tells me that was a long time ago.
I agree, too long to be carrying around the burden of catholics.
Back in gear, she’s found yet another little pamphlet that is suspiciously jehovah witness m.o.’d.
She has already told me that she saw jesus over the sandy hill. She closes her eyes momentarily before they fly open to convince me that s h e s a w j e s u s.
I think she tells me she was sleeping, she was a girl, and she saw jesus. Her face might have become beatific if her chin was quivering and her eyes weren’t shooting sparks of anger at the non-believer.
I try to ask her so what, she saw jesus, what did that mean, what did he do for her – obviously not heal her poor leg.
And more obvious, not allow her to live in her old age filled with fear. The frown across her brow is enough to stop me from attempting to discuss baby jesus with her.
I hope her terrors have not infected her son but I more hope they don’t infect me. I tell her I have to go, which I do, and that we will talk more later.