This year started off in a strange way for me. I sublet my place to someone who scammed me out of the rent, so rather than ringing in 2016 in Mexico, as I had planned, I spent it alone in my apartment, calling the cops. I felt violated and scared. A few days later, I got on a plane, still pretty shaken up about the whole thing.
Mahahual is a tiny place on the coast of Mexico, near Belize. It's a cruise port, which means that thousands of tourists flood the town daily before boarding the ship again at night. I arrived on a little bus in the rain. It began to pour. The owner of a local restaurant on the boardwalk invited me inside to wait it out. He asked where I was going and gave me directions, and then, a few minutes later, flagged down a pick-up truck and asked the driver to give me a lift. Later, the same proprietor recognized me on the street and invited me inside the restaurant again since I'd forgotten a few of my things and he'd kept them for me. The third time I saw him, I came to the restaurant for chips and guacamole. He asked what I was doing in Mexico and I told him I was there to work on a book. We talked about our favourite writers. He asked what I was reading and listened, with interest, when I told him about Elena Ferrante.
Then he told me that growing up, his family didn't have much money and he had to leave school after the primary grades. But he had always loved to read. Afterwards he bought comic books and sold them on the streets, but before selling them, he read them all. Now his youngest is 11 years old, and he's very pleased that she loves reading as well. She wants to be a doctor. His two oldest are studying to become an accountant and a lawyer, respectively. I commented on how great it was that he owned his own restaurant, that he had come so far. "Sí," he said, "y yo digo gracias a"—and here I waited for him to say "Dios," but instead, he continued, "a la lectura." I give thanks to reading.
I finished my shopping, went back to my beachfront campsite, and wrote until it was time for bed.