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June 16, 2017

In The Still Of The Night

By Maryanna Gabriel

     Except for my pounding heart the night was still. The adrenaline that had just surged through me was beginning to ebb. I tried not to shake. I was frightened. My courage seemed to take leave of me. I had no idea where I was. It was hard to think. Was I past the camp ground or before the camp ground? And shouldn't I get off the beach in case they come back. Yes, I decide. I turn into the narrow cobblestone streets. I find a hotel. The man at the desk does not know where the camp ground is. I can see he cannot help me and I go back out onto the street. My heart pounds and my fear mounts. It is so dark. I have no choice. I head back to the beach and then as I get my bearings I realize I am before the camp ground. It was difficult to recognize the place because it was closed and gated. In fact the gate was locked. I scaled the wall. I landed in the camp site court yard. A man had been watching me. He now stepped forward to question me. I began to babble.

      It was then a kind of a miracle happened. He recognized I was traumatized and began talking to me in a soft calm voice, telling me I was safe, and that it was all alright. He said he was a retired fire chief from Orillia, Ontario. I guess he knew how to speak to victims in shock. He spoke to me gently for a long time. He told me little stories. Did he give me a blanket? I don't remember. I know he walked me to my camper in the black night. I will be forever grateful to this man. 

Mount Shasta
     Rather incredibly the gentleman I was travelling with didn't believe me. He turned a deaf ear, rolled away from me, and ignored me. I ran a theory or two as to why this might be so. Somehow the morning came. By then the news of what had happened was all over the campground. I heard later that the priest gave a sermon in the local church that day, gringos are not just "marks" but people too. The lady who owned the campground brought me buns.

     I was so weary. My heart and soul were heavy. I just wanted to go home. This was it for me. Finally, after all was said and done, I remember driving past Mount Shasta in California. I wept with huge heart-rending sobs. Maybe it was the smell of the pine. I love pine. It is one my favourite smells. It connects me to life and all that I hold dear.

   I felt gratitude. Grateful I was safe, grateful I was heading home, and grateful for resolution around someone who supposedly cared for me. And thus ends this tale of travelling south. 

June 10, 2017

Rincon de Guayabitos, Mexico

By Maryanna Gabriel


Boca de Iguana with friends. 

Boca de Iguana with friends, Manzanilla with crocodiles, and finally in Rincon de Guayabitos in a destination campground we stopped for a longer sojourn. Let us just say that travel is a good way to know somebody and fissures that had been revealing themselves had just become a crack. I was needing to cool off. Quickly. 

I set out onto the beach. I was walking quickly seeking the calming affect of the ocean when some boys came by and began to speak to me in Spanish. I say boys, they seemed like boys, but they were closer to twenty. I just spoke quickly in Spanish that I did not want to talk and kept moving without paying much attention. I began to feel better. By now it was dark, I had covered the breadth of a sandy bay and the stars were out. I may not have had resolution to what I was feeling but clearly it was time to return whether I was looking forward to it or not.

I made my way along the shore glad for the starlight gleaming on the waves. It was hard to see. Suddenly the same boys parted from the shadows on a wall. There were three. They surrounded me. I backed up with the ocean behind me and like wolves they closed in. A cold fear coagulated as I realized I was cornered. "Oooh miss you are so beautiful," I hear one say. One stepped forward, grabbed a breast and retreated. With difficulty I focused on a feeling of incredulity. I was old enough to be their mother, maybe their grandmother. Did they need glasses? The slightly bigger one reached forward and grabbed my crotch and then he stepped back. The world immediately slowed. Frame by frame my mind reached for a quiet puff of thought as I remembered words from long ago. It was of a tea cup reader I had seen. She told me I would be sexually assaulted against a wall. Her words had frightened me at the time. Eventually I had forgotten her words. Until now.

Something in me turned over. Not a chance. I swiftly take in their height. I am bigger. This is not going to happen. Not these punks. Not on my life. With that thought I felt myself puff up. It was as if some primal force inside of me was tapped into. I grew and I grew. Instinctively I knew I needed to make a sound. Screaming wasn't big enough for I felt huge. I seemed to bump my head against the stars. I threw back my head and opened my lips. I reared and I roared, a surging torrent of carnal rage. It overflowed from gaping hairy jaws and the roaring seemed endless. A red ferocity of the she-grizzly possessed me and I knew in this savagery I could easily tear them limb from limb. Then I did what grizzlies do. I charged. I charged roaring with claws outstretched and I went for the throat of the boy who had gone for me. But he was not there. 

They had vanished. The night was quiet once again. I was alone. Was I? Was I really?

June 3, 2017


By Maryanna Gabriel

City Of Guanajuato

I was stunned by this place. It is an outstanding testimony to colonial architecture as it was built on money that was mined from silver and gold. It has a history that dates back to the 1500's. Prosperity and violence are intertwined as Spain interfered with taxes and bloody feuding resulted. For nearly two centuries, 30 to 40 percent of the world's silver was mined here. Silver barons lived opulent lives while slaves, the indigenous peoples,
Tunnels of cobblestone.
worked. Jesuits struggled for their existence as the monarch of Spain felt they were too powerful and banned them. Eventually it all settled down as independence from Spain was achieved and theaters, churches and mansions were built on narrow cobblestone streets. We walked through a series of underground tunnels. I was awed by the labour invested with everywhere we looked. A popular art university flourishes here.

It was time to head to the west coast. I was not looking forward to all of the tolls and road checks. Men in uniform with machine guns and ammunition strapped to their bodies has never been my favourite thing.