Strange Things That Happen at the Beach
Trip Start Jan 31, 1996
299Trip End Ongoing
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We're staying in a hotel at the remote south end of Canoa beach, on the Pacific coast. The village of Canoa is three kilometres north. We walk to Canoa and back twice a day, once before sunrise and once after dark to avoid the rays of the equatorial sun.
Just down the beach from us there's a new French hotel and restaurant called the Coconut Bungalows. The restaurant is running just fine but the bungalows aren't quite ready. Pascal, the owner, is about 50 years old, rotund, and rock solid. His hair is cropped to the scalp and he has rings hanging from both ears. He never wears a shirt and is well tattooed. His kitchen is all French. Pascal´s steak is so tender, he sometimes brings out a raw slab of beef, cuts off a big chunk and eats it like candy. When he's not working with the solid foods, he often experiments in potables. He takes finely cut, fresh marijuana and puts it into a 2/3 full bottle of a foul Ecuadorian distillate called Caņa. He feeds in the weed piece by piece until the Caņa level climbs to the neck of the bottle. The pot then brews in the Caņa for 15 days. Tasting more wicked than grappa or slivovica, any additive must surely improve the taste of Caņa. And to protect what's his, Pascal keeps an all too barky Doberman named Jules with him behind the bar. A loaded shotgun lies at arms reach under the bar too.
Pascal's amigo, Michel, from Switzerland runs the place in his absence. Fabiola is Pascal's ¨partner for life¨ and head chef. She's a young Ecuadorian girl, probably 18, but could pass for a few years less.
A couple of days ago Pascal had to make an unexpected trip to Quito. He wasn't gone an hour when Fabiola buggered of; probably to the nearest town where she might find boys her own age to play with. When we arrived for lunch, we saw Michel with his arms waving frantically. He was explaining to other customers that the chef was tied up at the moment and the lunch would be delayed. A half hour went by, then an hour - still no sign of Fabiola. Michel started getting twitchy. Then Jules started to bark. The customers, irritated, began to leave. Michel, yelling "mama mia" and wringing his hands, began to rant. He wanted to shoot the dog and sell the girl to pirates.
Six hours later, Fabiola returned with a big smile on her face. She looked energized and ready for an evening of more, and maybe better, French cooking.
COCONUT BUNGALOWS AND REVERSE BABELIZATION:
Pascal has been in Ecuador for 15 years. His Spanish is excellent, but he's lost most of his French. Michel speaks French and a bit of Spanish. Fabiola speaks an odd coastal Spanish dialect that only Pascal can understand. Ellen speaks English and her Spanish is coming along fine. I speak an English/Spanish kind of Creole that almost no one can understand. So with the Coconut near completion, it's sort of a reverse Tower of Babel.