Eslabon Chapter 3 - "Gringos"
Americans on holiday love to drink - anything they get their hands on. Being the only woman on board their rental multi-cabin boat, I am obliged to make them anything they ask. This is the kind of decadence I came here to escape but this is the job I signed up for - an illegal stewardess.
These men aren’t picky, and lacking taste makes this a brainless function. Free room and board on a baby yacht cutting the clean coastlines with my best friend is more than I could have imagined happening just a month ago.
My heart evolves as I explore in my own time. When I am not demanded to juice a lime and pour tequila I am on the stern alone basking in the sun with my book Total Freedom by Krishnamurti. I would tan topless, but the leering was getting to me. Tan lines are a small sacrifice for comfort.
Today the fever for freedom is so great it keeps everyone shivering. They don’t know how to enjoy their freedom, they just want to be free. I watch the boys guzzle their sanity to the last drop and teeter on the edge, so close to falling into the oceans depths. I see them express their freedom by waking up at noon and indulging in every debauchery within reach of the imagination. I have eaten more cheese with these gringos than I did when I was in Paris with my parents. Queso Gringos, Michael calls them. This isn’t freedom, it is escape. And I am already learned in this too well.
Michael does not mind them. He has become a sort of companion; matching their shots and sharing their women. Although he was invited onto the boat from a wager lost at the tables he is now in their debt. This I know from listening through the port hole in the cabin - no one mentions it. They come back exhausted from the dog fights and I clean the boat and read while they are away. I have learned that no scrubbing will clean the stench of liquor. And as I have only rubbing alcohol to clean with it doubles the fumes. After two weeks I am losing touch with my sense of smell.
Krishnamurti says that denying ones senses can be a new way to internal happiness. It comes naturally for me to practice this while on the ship of fools. But he means it in a more profound way. That somehow I could detach from my desire to satiate my senses, and this practice could bring me closer to a more pure form of myself. An enlightenment.
Indian philosophy is beyond me, but it is more intriguing than tolerating Bitty hovering over me if I were to mingle with the boys. No, the sun and the moon and this book are the best option I have today. Other than writing, of course.
From the Porthole
“So you travel a lot, eh? Have you fucked an American?” Bitty asked Michael tonight over cards. The four of them finished supper and shared the last of the liquor on the balcony by my window. I, wrapped in a blanket playing solitaire could hear their tequila amplified conversation per usual.
“As many as would let me” He said, taking a drag from a spiff. “Have you fucked a Frenchwomen?”
“No, not yet,” he laughed.
“I”ll raise. They wouldn’t like you. Too shaved.”
“I’m surprised you got any in America, being hooded. Raise.”
“We’ve all had Mexican bitches!” the one called Scuggs called out.
A roar went around the table and drinks were downed. The game went on another round before Bitty asked “Have you fucked a Canadian?”
I could feel Michael from my cabin window even if I couldn’t see him.
“Yes, of course. I lived in Quebec for a year!”
“You’ve fucked the blonde then?” I could hear the table get quieter.
He seemed to pause only a moment before he said “of course.” The table roared again.
“Is she good?”
“That is for me to know. You aren’t her type.”
“Ha! Withholding! I bet she is. I bet that hot body of hers will do anything you want. She is a ten bro! She was fucking that English dude. I’ve seen her tits. Both of you boys have nothing on what I am packing; I’ll make her scream like I’m breaking her in.”
“Your dick is tiny dude” Scuggs called out.
A slap hit the table. “Shut the fuck up. Both of you.” I heard Michael say.
“Hey man,” Bitty cut in “sharing is caring. You owe us anyway.”
“Yeah, share the bitch,” Bravo added.
“Drop it guys, the man is attached” Scuggs diffused the tension. And they played on as if nothing happened.
I can only assume the pressure of a man needing affirmation of his masculinity from other men drove him to say what he did. That is a social group I know only second hand. Stories of conquests don’t bother me. Even as a woman I sleep with whomever I like. It is a new age after all where I have a college degree and I don’t’ have to wear a bra.
Still, hearing them talk about women as if we are a country to be taken, hearing them talk about me in that way makes me sick. Is it expected that because I sleep with whom I like that I will sleep with whoever wants to sleep with me? It is not a two way street. I am not the dog whom everyone takes care of and plays with when they feel the urge.
And then there is the truth that Michael lied to them. He outright lied.
“We are not so concerned with nature because we have almost brought nature under control, but we have not understood the environment created by human beings” - J. Krishnamurti
Nature is simple enough. We build dams to funnel water to irrigate our fields, we fortify our buildings to protect against earthquakes and make fire retardant suits so we can tame the flames. We have used all of our intuitiveness to curb nature to our control. But how do we curb human nature?
Is it natural to be greedy as these men are, or for me to feel my trust betrayed in Michael’s lies? Was it wrong for me to slap Bitty when he drunkenly groped me in the night? Can I not invent a way to control their nature to be more appealing to me? We did invent the cage. But the brain, can we change the brain of another person to control it? If mind control works, no one is telling the public about it. Mind control could explain the success of consumerism in the world. Someone knows how to do it, mark my words, and they aren’t using it for good.
But how can a mind be so controlled when it seeks hard to be free? If I could control Michael and have him tell me why he lied about sex with me and apologize would I feel better? No! Because it would not be genuine and it is not Michael’s nature to behave piously. It’s one of my favorite qualities in him.
What I want is for him to give me back my dignity. It is too late for that. Confronting him opens the door to talking about my other lovers. I am not a puritan. I do who I want to and I don’t who I don’t.
I have come to far to succumb to the verbal abuse of a bunch of hypocritical Americans. I know it too well already. I know the effects of harsh words. My father stole my mother’s light with words alone. Liquor is a bad spirit. Michael knows my history in this, which is why the only whip I taste on this boat is the lash of Michael’s tongue.
But he could never tell my condition. I do well covering it per usual. My mask serves both to protect and to propagate my own will. Never reveal your weaknesses. Do not cry in front of men. Be stronger, be smarter than everyone else. Always pay attention. A rose with all of the thorns.
I will stay quiet. I will wait for the right moment. I will not cultivate control through persuasion, comparison, reward or punishment, all of which are forms of coercion. I will cultivate my own mind. I will test mind control with my own mind.
Bay of Whales
If you are going to act like a drunken fool, you had might as well be drunk. But the liquor cabinet is dry and finally the tides have turned. Those filthy gringos went whoring last night in a fishing village on the coast of Costa Rica. Not only did they bring back bathetic looking, and by the sound of it performing, whores, they brought parasites aboard in the form of chiggers.
I recognize the bites from a particularly memorable vacation to South Georgia when I was 10, where my brother Paul came back from playing in the woods covered in red pockmarks. The whelps are mad when chigger larvae find a host and secrete nasty venom that melts the skin into little pools so the puss may be slurped up. Disgusting. That is what these idiots brought on board.
And with some luck Michael did not share the woman who had them. But as soon as I saw scratching and babylike whining, and finally the pockmarks, I told Michael it was high time to get the hell out of here.
We all argued about who owed what to whom while we docked at a tiny marina in Puntenares. The surroundings were empty but for a 30 foot wooden sailboat with the word “Eslabon” painted on in peeling red. Since my costs were settled I excused myself to walk around.
He was standing in shallow waters, shirtless and hairy, scraping barnacles off of the side of his boat when I saw him the first time. A dark pair of aviators shaded his eyes and his dark salty hair was gritty from sun exposure. He could have been fourty, maybe fifty the oldest, but his smile was that of a boys.
“Hola,” he called out.
“Yo habla English?”
“Are you American?”
The lone sailor looked me over with such intensity I thought he might be trying to read my mind.
“Are you Italian? I hear an accent.”
“No, Sicilian.” We paused again to consider each other.”Do they have the pox?”
“They have been deep in Nicaragua then. Do you have them?”
Shouts from the conversation on the other dock cut into our thoughts and I felt the call of change.
“Where are you going?” I asked the stranger.
“Where ever. Eslabon is my home.”
“It looks like she could use some love.”
“I give her all I have.”
“My friend and I have two free hands, together makes four. We could help.”
“As long as we have a place to stay we’ll do what we can.”
“The second pair of hands belonging to one fighting against three.”
“Yes, but he will cooperate, and he doesn’t have the chiggers.
He considered me with a calm I have rarely seen. This was a man who had clearly spent a lot of time alone, and was protective of his space. I could hear Michael offering things he didn’t have in a last attempt to please the Gringos as the lone sailor contemplated his future with us.
“We work together. Everyone pulls their weight. And if it doesn’t work out, I drop you off at my own convenience.”
“You have a deal.”