Here I am on the Riviera Maya. It is a little different than the Riviera Santa Barbara style. Black birds on the wooden post beams beg for breakfast, as do the brown dogs in the Italian p²sadas that take your money on the internet and then have no place for you when you arrive at night with seven suitcases, packed for two months of writing, a daughter in the bus station guarding them till you come back with the key. Years ago, 17 to be exact, this had been a laid back beach town with only one building of two stories, and sandy streets.
Now the largest growing city in the world, with hotel and condo construction (a couple coming down to winter on the airport bus from Calgary had bought theirs for only $400,000 US), workers are streaming to Playa del Carmen from all up and down the South American and Central American continents, frequently arriving very poor, no place to stay, only to discover the streets are not paved with gold but flooded with gray water.
So, rather tense from looking for substitute hotels and trying to get my money back, there I was on the beach, already by the second morning. A woman I will call Krystal approached me.
She wanted to give me a massage, with excellent smelling oils. I offered her a palm reading. The deal was struck in an instant and we continued.
Krystal gave me a very good massage. I then sat up and held her hand. Immediately I was struck by the amount of horizontal markings across her mound of Venus.
“Be careful,” I warned her. “You have a lot of conflict in love.”
Her eyes watered. She nodded.
“And I see you like to travel.”
She nodded again. More tears.
I could see she was in a shaky state so I switched gears.
“Is there anything you want to know,” I asked her. (This was all in Spanish.)
She nodded, tearfully. “How many children will I have?” she asked.
I looked quickly down, examining all the possible places.
Her tears streamed non stop now.
“How many do you have now?” I asked her.
“So you might be pregnant?” I prodded gently.
She nodded, yes.
“Have you had your blood?”
She shook her head, no, saying not for a month. “So you can go to the Cruz Roja, the clinic?” I asked.
“Yes, yes, I know,” she replied.
And, my daughter volunteered, hopefully, this might be three kids over your whole life, you might not have to have them right now!
Ojala que si, Krystal answered. The young woman thanked me and moved on, leaving the two of us pondering what to do next as she wandered off, leaving us to our holiday on the sea.
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Batya Weinbaum is a contemporary palmist and writer.