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Point of View: Purgatory Was Our First Stop

Thu, 03/23/2023 - 10:21

“Our mayor would really like this,” I said to Mary one tender night not long ago as we walked in Zihuatanejo. “Can you imagine if this scene could be transposed to Newtown Lane? Wouldn’t that be something. . . ?”

In so saying, I was mindful of a planner’s proposal a while back that Newtown Lane be turned into a pedestrian mall, with traffic rerouted around the middle school (and probably through our photographer Durell Godfrey’s house).

“You wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference then between Newtown Lane and Agustin Ramirez! Grills would be fired up, women at tables would be making clamshell bracelets . . . ballads would flow from busy restaurants open, like the shops, to the street. . . . ”

She, a people person, and more sober than I at that moment, was less keen on the idea, which, were it ever to come true, might obviate — it occurs to me, a homebody — the need to fly 3,000 or so miles for the ambience that we find so affecting once a year. 

Our hotel, Las Brisas Ixtapa, a pyramidal temple by the sea, in which each room gives out onto the sparkling Pacific, is recovering from some lean years, the reason, perhaps, that, initially, neither our safe nor our door latch worked, though they were soon repaired, and Leslie, the new manager, for our pains gave us 50 percent off on all of the hotel’s food and drinks, which led me to be twice as generous when the four of us were at a table together. The discount, I later learned, did not extend to flip-flops, books, or stunning jewelry, but, hey, that was okay, discounts being of little import when you’re in paradise.

Unlike Dante, we began our trip in Purgatory — in the form of the federal building on the city’s Lower West Side where Mary, who realized a few days before our scheduled departure that her passport had expired, was issued a new one, following a long, long wait — and passed through Hell twice (the airports, particularly Mexico City’s). Paradise was sandwiched in between.

The margaritas, of course, were inspiriting, but even they, blissful as they were — some, I confess, even better than mine — could not obviate the fact that while I may be growing mentally, thanks to infusions there of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Antoine de Saint-Exupery, physically I’m wilting, as several flailing attempts to swim a lap in the pool in Mary’s wake demonstrably proved.

I’ll see to it, I’ll see to it. And I’m resolved to learn more Spanish too. Surely there must be an S.S.L. class here. Meanwhile (a sign that “todo marchan sobre ruedas” here), we were cheered to see on our return that the bull opposite the East Hampton Middle School was gone.


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