Thursday, April 30, 2009
Strolling in La Paz
La Paz in the morning. The sun is bright, the air cool, a breeze rifles the surface of the water and throws mesmerizing patterns of light and movement--constantly altering, distorted squares--onto the undersides of large motor yachts docked nearby.
The air is fresh, clear. Later, as the heat rises, it will smell of ozone and diesel and cooking fat, but for now it smells like the sea. Small songbirds flit from one coconut palm to the other, rest in the bougainvillea, twitter and sing, and now and then fish leap. An egret wades in the shallows and picks at a clam; two egrets fight for the same morsel; a fisherman wades waist deep and stands in the water, casting his small net.
We walk along the malecon to the mercado, where everything is delicious: two kinds of tortillas, maiz and harina, seafood--fresh shrimp, marlin ahumado--and eggs, yoghurt, queso fresco, golden marigold-fed chicken, kilos of limes, oranges, peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, mangos, two kinds of bananas and tiny yellow ciruelas, plums they are called, with a hard skin and tender meat and an intoxicatingly sweet odour.
When we've done our shopping, we stop at a juice bar and order jugos grandes--orange for Marike and El Diablo for me--beet and carrot and orange and celery. The women who serve us wear anti-influenza masks, but they are not really a health precaution, but a fashion statement, for most of the time, they simply wear the blue squares around their necks. Marike teases them about this, and so for a time they pull the masks up over their faces, all the while laughing and trading chistes.
Sculptures along the malecon
Rosalia butchers chicken in her Pollo Fresco stall