Pepe the Pensive,
Raśl the RambunctiousA Geezer in Paradise
tells of the adventures of a slightly daffy American who lives his winters on the coast of Oaxaca. Chapter Three includes a list of the Cast of Characters of his village and of his story.Part OneI think it is time to introduce my friends of Puerto Perdido to you, since they will be accompanying us over the upcoming pages of this journey into paradise.
First there is Chiro who is endlessly cheery. Mario is melancholic, but, fortunately, is married to merry Maruga. Raúl is rambunctious and rowdy, makes us laugh. Sergio is serious --- although wife Hortensia is humble and hardworking. Pepe is forever pensive, wife Solar is sweet and stolid.Vicente is vague, Salvador is sardonic, Tomás can be tender but tart, Felipe often acts the fool (but his great love, Chavita is a chaste charmer). Enrique is earthy, Marcos is mirthful, and the young Pedro is very pious ... when he's not plastered.
I have put some pictures right up here for you to look at and admire. They may look somewhat alike to you, since they have all grown up in this area and are all, apparently, related to each other in spaghetti ways that I will never fully understand. For instance, when I ask who is who, they tell me helpfully, Enrique es cuñado del hijastro de mi sobrino --- Enrique is my cousin's godchild's nephew. Or, Chavita es abuelita de Perla, y suegra del papá de Pedro --- Chavita is Perla's grandmother, and Pedro's father's mother-in-law.
Or, Sergio es padrino de la jefa de los dos niños de Chiro, el cual es mi tío --- Sergio is godfather to Chiro's son's mother, who's my uncle. You see --- even though I've put their pictures here, you still might not be able to tell one from another, and who is related to whom, and how.
All of them grew up poor. The most common food they remember from their childhood is tortilla with salt, or, on occasion, frijoles or a bit of fresh tuna from the ocean.
In most cases they either lacked a father (gone north, gone to Mexico City, "gone away") or he was a falling down drunk --- a man who was loving one day and the next chasing them around the shack with a machete. It was worse for Salvador: he lacked both mother and father so his older brother cared for him, best as he was able, until he was able to find a job, tending goats, when he was ten.
Few of them can read, even fewer can write. This is something I find out mostly by accident ("Here, Carlos, you write this down; I keep losing my place," says Tomás; "This pen is out of ink --- I can't get it to work; you do it," says Raúl).
Only half of them drink, and that only on Saturdays and Sundays. Those that do manage to get amazingly, totally, brazenly, noisomely stewed out of their minds in the cantina, or at a fiesta --- creeping in for work on a Monday morning, claiming that they have been laid low by "malaria." The sickness is usually gone by Tuesday.