Close, yet…

Seagull, though as about as establishment-unaware as they come, still found is art, such as it was, driven by economic realities. One of which was that songs mocking out tourists are not favored in places that pay one to sing. So he rather relished serving up his latest opus for the select.

They come to the Island in the winter time
Drink tequila on the beach with salt and lime
They swing in their hammocks and laugh ’cause they know
Everybody back home is covered with snow

They’re only here for six months or so
While the weather back home is twenty below
They’re out in the sun with a smile every day
They’re the snowbirds down from the US of A.

They put on a sweater at the first sign of fall
And give their travel agent a telephone call
They wait ’til December, see what Santa Claus brings
Then they pack up their bags, and they spread out their wings.

They’re only here for six months or so
Until the hurricanes are starting to blow
They’re out in the sun with a smile every day
They’re the snowbirds down from Ontario way.

There’s Canadian sunsets and Indian summer
But Northern winters can be quite a bummer
They wait until the Superbowl and Grey Cup are lost
Then they head for the airport, whatever it costs.

They’re only here for six months or so
While Old Man Winter puts on his show
They’re out in the sun with a smile every day
They’re the snowbirds down from New York and LA.

They wear oil and bikinis, every woman and man
So they can fly back up north with their Yuca-Tan
It’s tropical heaven they all can time share
And nicer than freezing their butts off up there

They’re only here for six months or so
When hell freezes over they’re ready to go
They’re out in the sun with a smile every day
They’re the snowbirds down out of Canada, eh?

It went over better in Summer, when there were fewer gringo snowbirds in the Café Cueva, though you never knew how the sunburned, silvertipped resident set might take it, either.

But the place was pretty full for low season, and incredibly hottie-loaded. That one table over by the bookcase was one hundred percent over-the-moontang and he’d add on a few points every time the big black chick made a move. Not that he’d kick Miss Saigon there out of bed, either. Hell, he wouldn’t even toss Curtsy back to the dolphins. Amazing bunch and he was playing to their table, hard.

But not to ignore those new faces on the sofas around the coffee table in the back corner, by any means. A slender drink of water slipping around in a cotton shift that made it pretty clear it was just there like the veil on a sculpture: temporary cover up some amazing shape. Sitting right by the cutest Mayan chick he’d seen yet. I’d buy a bracelet with my name on it from her for a dollar, Seagull thought as he strummed an instrumental break. Even sing one just for her, like “You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful and you’re Mayan”? And a familiar face amongst them. Not to mention familiar tight tits, tough ass and red head. The fire-dancer he’d almost hooked up with in Uxmal two years go, but she was traveling with that sexy lezzy with the rattletop djembe. Damn! Maybe I should set my axe on fire and play with my teeth.

Copper was unaware she was being scanned by a potential musical collaborator, traveling agent, and bed-partner: she was just relaxing in the mellow, sweet, innocent Isla Vibe. She’d always doted, on the Island: the perfect combination of her kind of laid-back and unspoiled with a decent number of gringo dorks with enough money to make spinning her fireballs here an exercise in profit, not just exercise.

Beyond that, she had a certain affinity to a place where she had her own church right on the main square. Well, not really her church, though to hear some people tell it…

The combination of her name and hair color brought a spark of recognition everywhere in the area, but nowhere more than on Isla, where the main church on the plaza principál is dedicated not to the Lady of Guadalupe, but to the Virgin de la Caridad de Cobre. Unusual in Mexico, where you gradually find out that it’s barely even a Catholic country at all, in the normal sense, but manifestly a goddess cult in which Christ is revered mostly because he’s the favorite son of the original Latin Lupe Lu. But the Charity of Copper virgin cuts her action on Isla, where Lupe’s church is much smaller and located out in a colonia. Well, also located on a clifftop with Caribbean view, but prestige-wise, Copper Charity is the go-to deity on Isla and Copper got a kick out of it.

A deeper kick, that still hadn’t completely settled in the lamina of her subcon was that in Cuba, where the Virgin originally hailed from the town of Cobre, she carried a second ID, a persona she found fascinating. To a practitioner of Santeria–the Latin Caribe’s answer to voodoo–many Saints are merely hosts for powerful Id gods, AfroCarib spirits that ride people like horses but reside inside Catholic canoneers like parasite eggs injected into host grubs. The Virgin might have her sparkling white chapel and muted bells in the main square, but over the flickering lanterns and fresh-spilt blood of sacrifice she was the Goddess Oshun, and far, far from a blushing virgin bride.

Xchab had absolutely no idea what sort of place her weird new companions had dragged her to this time. It was obviously a gringo/Euro kind of place but showed none of the flash she associated with that in Cancun. In fact, it was downright shabby: old sofas, used books piled all over one wall, rough floors, burlap ceilings, counters and shelves made of what looked like driftwood or at least heavily distressed lumber. They didn’t even make your coffee for you! They brought these little glass cups of grounds in hot water and you had to push the plunger down to pour the coffee out. And how about the entertainer? He looked like a clown with his big puffball of sandy hair and his tramp clothes and taped-together glasses. And his guitar looked like it was not only used, but abused and grafittied by some minature music gang. And if wasn’t a clown, just a singer, then his singing really, truly sucked.

Loris was pretty totally happy, not that she was a hard person to make happy. She was running with maybe the best man she’d ever met, was on the trail of oXo, and absolutely loved Isla Mujeres. Their cabana at the Villa Ki’in was like a dream to her; funky living room with posters of Kahlo and Zapata opening out on a patio with cane loungers that gave onto a powdery beach sloping down to a little lagoon of calm water flushed by waves breaking over a reef. The water was clear as the air, and shallow enough that she could walk over to the reef and peek down at tiny wrasse darting in Technicolor. She’d lazed on the beach all afternoon, drinking in the sun and Bannock’s presence, but with few words spoken. Just watching Copper and Winston frolic in the water while Xchab strode solemnly around at waist depth, her long man’s shirt floating around her as she peered into the crystal water like a stalking heron. Just resting a hand on Bannock’s hairy arm and feeling him relaxing, too. And, okay, yeah, drinking a few Coronas.

And now this little place with the cool Brit couple and the knucklehead slacker singer and the Yucatan coffee and rich brownies and the feel of a sort of hideout from reality, some forgotten niche in development where you could be unwary and human. The people who came in for coffee seemed to share that feel: uncoiled, yet aware, happy to be here. The other table there, those three model-looking girls, look at them. Just young, beautiful and not a care in the world.

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