Sunday, July 4, 2010

Involuntary Vandals

La Paz is a city that comes alive when the sun begins to set. Human self-preservation has taught the population to lay low during the heat of the day but as they sky begins its alchemy to golden hues the beachfront Malecón springs to life. Artists, vendors, and street performers take their stations as families stroll and the Mexican youth practice courtship encounters. Rollerbladers and bikers of varying skill level keep things interesting. Packs of street dogs dart in and out of the feet, strollers and wheels passing by.

We stop to watch a group of highly flexible teens demonstrate the core strength required for break dancing to “Eye of the Tiger.” Further down the Malecón, a band of youth playing plastic buckets and a make-shift tuba-like device thrilled a growing crowd with surprising talent.

We had about 20 blocks to walk but it took us nearly two hours to make our way back toward our hotel. As we enjoyed the festivities along the route the sky moved through stages of coral to orange and eventually left us to complete our way in the dark.

Since crossing the four-lane main boulevard is taxing in the light of day, I search the median for a place to cross midway before we reach the curve that obscures a view of oncoming traffic. A road crew had been working in the median for days but a section of the orange hazard fencing was removed so we froggered our way across the eastward traffic to the center divider. There we found a newly poured sidewalk – because a 10 foot wide median is a perfectly logical place to encourage foot traffic in Mexico. I tapped the new cement with the toe of my flip-flog. Satisfied that it was well-cured by the La Paz sun, Celia and I began skipping in yellow-brick road fashion, inspired by the glee of being first to use the new path.

Approximately 20 yards down the path with Club El Moro's white façade beaming in the distance, Celia and I simultaneously transitioned from skip to slide into a low-slung crab posture. With our toes and fingers buried deep in wet cement we starred at each other, mouths thrown open by the shock. With every attempt not to further deface public property, we crawled from the cement overtaken by fits of laughter. Amazingly, it seemed that no one witnessed the spectacle. We slipped into the resort complex by a side gate and tip-toed into our room to wash the concrete from our digits and shoes.

In the morning, once again passing along Malecón on our way to the bus station, we reminisced on our wonderful new impressions of La Paz, thankful that we gave her a second chance. Passing by the crime scene of last night’s involuntary vandalism, we giggled in shared appreciation that we too have left our impression on La Paz.

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