21 february 2001

   O            so we had a fire here. and there's no fire
     O          department. and ALL the buildings are made
        O       out of dry wood and thatch. when i first saw
                it, coming off of the place i'd had dinner the
 OO             last night, the flames were 50 feet tall. then a
 O     O O      propane tank exploded.
        O       a good third of the beach was lost - some of
   O    O       the more interesting places. and nearly all the
        O       buildings back off the beach - the laundry, the
        O       internet cafe, the shop that sold cigars and ice
  O     O       cream and tequila. the place with the espresso
 O  O           machine. the place with the dart board. the
 O  O  O        place with the zen paintings. the place with the
  O    O O      guy who made me a special drink to help my sick
   OO           tummy. the place where the artisans set-up their
   O  O O       booths.
  OO    O       
  O O   O       we stood around for a bit, watching it jump from
   O O O        building to building. the wind was strong. it
 O OO    O      reached the brisa marina, the tallest building
   OO   OO      in town, four stories, and ate it.
   OO  OO       
 O   O OO       and then people began dragging out valuables.
 O   OO O       and i was standing there, and i started too.
O O O O         and then the lifeguards began tearing down their
O O O O O       restaurant - to make a fire break. machetes
  O O O OO      flying, chopping the roofs of their palapas. and
O O OO   O      i began dragging the bits of roof away. it was
O O  OO  O      here that i was hit with a flying board, and
O O  O O O      lost my glasses for a while.
O O  O O O      
O O  O O O      it's a bit of a blur. it lasted four hours. most
  OOOO O O      of the time i ran water. i think i got a bit
 OOO O O O      of heat exhaustion - at one point i lifted a
 O O O OOO      partially burnt timber and nearly fainted.
 O OO OO O      
O O O O OO      halfway through, the military showed, all in
OO O OO O       black with black machine guns. they stood and
 OOOOOOO        watched us. by this time we'd formed waterlines
O O  OOO O      from the ocean to the palapas. maybe 200 of us -
 OOO OOO O      tourists mostly.  WE saved the beach.
O OO OOOO       since then the place has been depressed. most of
OOOO O O        the tourists have left. the artisans have moved
OOOO OOO O      to a different town.  Lalo, the crazy guy who
OOOOOO O O      made me a fish from seashells and a coconut,
OOOOO  OOO      lost all his stuff. today he's shoveling sand,
OOO O OOO       to make some money to replace his tools.
O O O OOOO      
 OO O OOOO      ...
OOO O OOOO      
O O O OOOO      
 OO O OOOO      ...
OOO O OOOO      
OOO OOOOOO      i don't know what to say. this place is
OOO OO OOO      incredible.
 OOOOOO OO      -k