Jalco Life

Come morning, Jason and I continued our search for a local by the name of Alan. Raul had emailed days earlier to say that he was out of the country, but his guide Alan would take care of us. Unfortunately, it was lost in communication when we would arrive in Jalco, and there were no pay phones (let me rephrase, there are pay phones, but they function with a prepaid card… which we didn’t have) and no wifi (which later became a blessing: isolation) to contact Raul or Alan. It was a waiting game, and we were pretty much powerless to influence the outcome. After wandering the town all day in hopes of finding anyone that could help us, we learned that the local biblioteca (library) offered wifi (on occasion) and we were able to send out a single message to Raul with a single reply: “do not despair.”

We waited. By that point, the locals had seen us and took us into their care. They brought us a few snacks, a table, a chair, and a fruity soda to share: absolutely kind hearts in Jalco. And we waited some more. By the end of the day, after substantial effort to make contact, we received a message that Alan would come get us at 10 pm. And at 10 he arrived, hastily showing us to our humble abode for our time in Jalco.

The Jalco House was a vagabond’s dream: the embodiment of simplicity. For some strange reason, despite the cockroaches and filth and dust, the run down patio collapsing in on itself, and cold cement walls… it was home. The perfect home. I pranced through the house delighted that we could call it our own, even if only for the short time that we would exist there. Raul’s kindness was a blessing.

There were no screens or glass windows, only iron bars that could be sealed with iron doors to keep the biting midges out of the house. It completely lacked doors of any sort, only half-loft walls to separate the two beds and open gaps in the well and bathroom. No kitchen. No insulation. Only two squeaky beds, a table, and river gear everywhere. We found a plywood sign to serve as a door to the restroom, allowing some privacy, and all I could do was smile. Our discovery and fortune was everything beautiful and simple.

Days came and went in perfect bliss. We had our street corner, where we had rested before while waiting for Alan, and we shared cervesas and snacks, spicy commercialized Takis, on the street with new friends. We found the local market in time, and for roughly $2 US, one could buy a few avocados, tomatoes, limes, an onion, tortillas, and a massive papaya. 5 pesos bought 1 kilo of tortillas, and another 14 bought salt and sugar (still brown from the cane, not dusty white as it is in the States). 20 pesos more bought a fantastic torta, and 20 pesos further bought the best licuado (smoothie) our tongues had ever tasted. We cherished the river and the adventures that Mitzi, Jason’s bike, enabled us up lonely hills to distant perched fields. And each night the grackles would sing in the church steeples and they seemed to never cease in their musical endeavors. Jalco held its image in my heart as the place where the birds sang even in the dark, hopelessly calling to gods beyond our imagination to bless the enamored with their music.

The river always called as it whispered sweet nothings just a few hundred feet from our front stoop, and Alan promised to show us its intricacies. What a blast. The joy in our communication blunders found its root in our mutual love affair with the river gods and river beasts, which, throughout all languages apparently, is universally understood.

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