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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
You’ll be havin’ a heatwave (02/24/2008)
By Frances Edstrom

Get ready for some great weather coming your way. If I were you, I'd dig out the beach towels, plan a family picnic, grease up your bicycle, and rinse out the lemonade pitcher. John and I have decided to take a vacation in sunny Mexico (or "sun-shinny" Mexico, which is what the hotel calls it in its annual letter). Actually, it isn't the sun that beckons us there, it's what the sun does. As I write this, the sun is shining in "sun-shinny" Winona, but it is only three degrees out, and that's Farenheit.

I don't care what the weatherman says, or your high-tech Internet weather service, whenever I go to Mexico, the weather in Winona turns absolutely balmy, a fact that our co-workers here at the Post like to record and rub in when we return.

They like to do a lot of other things, too, like have a party in the office. A month or so ago, Dana, who is relatively new to the office, suggested we have an office potluck. I told her that was usually reserved for when John and I are on vacation. Somehow people think it's more fun when we aren't around. (We had a potluck anyway, just in case John and I weren't able to get away this winter. There are some very good cooks working here, although that is not a prerequisite for employment here.)

Upon returning to work we are treated to photos of the entire group, staged " we think " in John's or my private office, waving cigarettes (forbidden indoors), whiskey bottles and beer cans (also forbidden, except at the Christmas party) strewn about. This never fails to amuse.

There's something about being in business for ourselves that compels us to call the office at least once while we are on vacation, at which time it is the job of whoever is voted upon by the whole group to make us feel bad about leaving home. "We're thinking of knocking off early to go golfing," one of them will say. Or maybe it will be, "Would you like us to check and make sure you don't have water in your basement? This thaw is really something."

We are off to our longtime favorite getaway spot, Hotel Los Flamingos in Acapulco, Mexico. We first went there in 1978 after it was "discovered" by John's cousin and one of our good friends. It's a special place that surprises people we have taken there (sometimes for the good, sometimes not, depending on what they require of a vacation spot).

It sits on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, a long walk to an okey-dokey, crowded beach, and a half-hour taxi ride to our favorite beaches, Pie de la Cuesta and Barra Vieja. But I am not compatible with a day at the beach unless slathered in number 80 sunscreen and hiding under a cabana, so that's not a problem for us. There's a pool, an alfresco dining room, a cocktail patio where people gather to watch the sunset, a photo gallery of movie stars from the forties who used to gather there, and some of the most welcoming people we've ever met.

Typically, we are awakened by the surf pounding on the base of the cliff and a strong a undercurrent of the neighborhood school's principal on the loudspeaker with the morning address (which seems interminable, just like when I was in grade school in the U.S.A.) Then John rolls over and goes back to sleep, and I take a book out on the balcony. I read in the hammock, and now and again watch the shrimp and octopus divers down at the bottom of the cliff or the flocks of pelicans flying in graceful formations through the ever-present breeze, which keeps us cooler than downtown Acapulco. Once as I dozed in the hammock in my nightgown, I became aware that I was not alone. It was time to cut down the coconuts on the palm tree fifteen feet from where I lay, and a young boy had shinnied up the tree with a machete to get the job done. He seemed too intent on the job to notice me in my nightclothes, but it gave me a start nonetheless.

The rest of the day is spent doing about the same. Read, doze, then go take a swim. Read, doze, sample fruit picked off the trees at the hotel or an avocado stuffed with chicken salad. Then go watch the sunset and have a dinner of fresh-caught seafood, or flavorful and chewy grassfed beef, or pozole, a hominy stew that is a favorite in the state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is capital. Finally, a margarita or two or a couple of Dos Equis beers to round out the night, maybe listen to the band, and chat with other tourists, mostly U.S., Canadian, and northern Mexicans. Then it's off to bed to prepare for the rigors of another day in the hammock.

Lest you think there is nothing educational about this trip, John turns his shaky Spanish on anyone handy. He learned most of what he knows from taxicab drivers and waiters, who help him with his Spanish in exchange for help with their English. It is my job to follow the conversation closely enough through body language and using women's intuition to make sure John doesn't order the tomato-stuffed whole tuna instead of the tuna-stuffed whole tomato.

Of course it could rain the whole time we are there, as it did once, and we could have an earthquake. (I just threw that in to make my daughter feel better about being stuck in Winona feeding my dogs and reading my junk mail.) 


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