Tropic of Cancer

Phil snores.

And not petit little nasopharyngeal rumblings either. The man SNORES. We’re talking deep, rolling, thunderous, window-rattling (if I had any windows) emanations that sound as if we were about to have a visitation from one of Lucifer’s higher lieutenants, if not from Old Scratch himself.

Since coming to La Paz, he’s crashed in my minimal abode, stringing up another hammock in what might be charitably called the bedroom, and now I get nightly serenades. Quartet with tuba and other wind instruments.

Although the warm climate is easier on his arthritis, Phil hates it here. La Paz lies pretty much along the Tropic of Cancer. The tropics start here, and it’s late summer. The heat is merciless. Phil’s used to northern climes, where even in summer, after the heat of the day, a pleasant chill descends. One has to bundle up. Nightly fires are not unreasonable. Here, the heat assaults you by six in the morning. By noon it’s a full scale siege. By three, your walls have been breached. You’re stripping off clothing and looking for any place to jump in the water and cool off. You survive in the north by battling the elements. In the tropics, you survive by conceding defeat in advance. The weather wins, the Sun is your God, and you do best by admitting it up front and doing your best to adapt and learn its habits.

He’s coming around. Cut off some of his jeans, bought some summer cotton and silk shirts.  Finally given into morning and afternoon swims.

As to our basketball league, well, suffice it to say we’re still working of fundamentals. The basics of a half-court game, the bounce pass, the chest pass, post-up play, lay-ups. Defensive basics. It’s too hot right after school gets out, so we have to wait until after dinner. By then, it’s cooler, but also getting dark fast this late in the year. We get outdoor lights installed maybe nest week, then it’ll be better.

Can’t really predict who’ll show up day to day, but the best ones usually do. Our point guard, Miguel, and our nascent center, Esteban, make it most days. Phil’s started a pre-school session at six in the morning, and Miguel, Esteban and a couple of other hard cores show up for that, too. My name don’t carry much clout down here, but Phil, with his remote, regal presence, 13 rings, and aura of MJ and Kobe, seems to be a minor draw.

Still, they’re kids, and basketball doesn’t have much caché in Mexico, trumped by baseball and soccer. But, a few other churches have met the challenge and we have a five or six team league taking shape. First games next week.

I live like a gutter rat, I’ve got a case of turista I can’t seem to shake, Phil keeps me up all night with his Wagnerian nose music, the wife thinks I’ve run off with the housekeeper, the NBA’s in lockout and may not have a season, but I feel great. And Phil—I actually saw him smile yesterday and order a beer at Pepito’s.

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