Monday, January 17, 2011
On the Edge of Time
Puerto Vicente Guerrero is the sort of place Hemingway would have loved. Pinned against the tinder-dry brown foothills of the Sierra, the town opens onto a twinkling expanse of Pacific ocean. The harbor, though little more than a jetty-wrapped nook of protected water, is the only such berth along miles of sandy coastline, and it is around this harbor that Puerto Vicente Guerrero lives.
It is the sort of place where life follows simple routines. In the dim pre-dawn, a fleet of low white launches speed seaward, past the bobbing disembodied lights on the boats of commercial fishermen, carrying visiting anglers to pursue their quarry in rich offshore waters. By afternoon, both sets of anglers will return to the harbor to spend the remainder of the day swaying in a hammock.
It is the sort of place where children rush down to the pier to meet incoming boats, clamoring for attention and the opportunity to carry a rod or bag in exchange for a few pesos. For fishing, in Puerto Vicente Guerrero, is the sole purpose of the harbor and the town's lifeblood.
In some ways, Puerto Vicente Guerrero also feels like the kind of place where dreams come to die, or if not to die, at least to fade away, floating down an unpaved street to be lost behind a mound of half-mortared bricks. Not because life here is hard or hopeless, but because grand visions seem so attainable and are simultaneously so easily swallowed by a pressing lack of urgency.
Yet it is also the sort of place where pods of dolphins race under the bows of boats and leap through the wakes, where sea turtles still hatch on the beaches, blue-green surf pounds on rocky headlands just outside the harbor and a tangerine sun peeks above the horizon to begin a glorious dawn. Immersed in these rhythms of nature, time seems to move more slowly, knowing that tomorrow, at half-past-six, the pangas will once again slip from their moorings and turning the corner of the breakwater, glide out into the ocean.