Estela González, “Moosnípol and the Sea.”

 

It was when the sea ate the beach.

Careyes, the huge downtown beach. Hundreds of meters of sand in all directions: warmth of talcum powder between our toes, where we dug ourselves up to our necks, played war, climbed on black cliffs, and dove from them; where we rode the waves, our parents unaware, to where our feet could no longer reach.

It seemed it would always be there.

But one day came the engineers. Their machines dug. They violated, drove piles and built walls dressed in hibiscus and bougainvillea. They erected towers, walkways, swimming pools bluer than the ocean blue. They named Hotel Careyes after the last Hawksbill seen nesting on its beaches. The paradise of delight—open and ready for those who could pay.

Everyone smiled, and dispersed pictures of the founding fathers on little, rectangular papers.

And the sea?

It churned. It bellowed its ire at the stone that was not stone, the glued-up gravel. The water licked the cement, it spat at the walls, it spewed insults of seaweed and jellyfish. It rose and climbed; ate a centimeter of beach. The next year it ate two. And the next. Erosion, pronounced the solemn engineers, and reinforced the levies, built retaining walls, buried them deeper. Contain and control. Clutch green papers in their fists.

The sea hurled larger and larger waves at the buildings. At times it invaded brilliant lobbies in luxury hotels; with irate hurricanes it inundated the polished mahogany floors and stole silk Persian rugs. When it shattered the windows of jewelry stores, rivers of pearl and coral went back to sea. Irascible winds kidnapped dogs from the laps of distinguished ladies who, ¿de dónde nos visitan?

Such was the sea’s clamor in the paradise that was Careyes Hotel and Resort.

Until one day, exhausted from supporting tons of steel, cement and crystal, the Sand renounced her destiny as blond Atlas and abandoned herself to the depths.

She lay on the bottom of her first dwelling, and the Blue Lord covered her. Under it all, Sea and Sand lay, remembering that before time was time He, the enormous, had been alone, perfect, round; weeping his blue solitude.

The Sand’s return saddened Moosnípol too, the oldest turtle in the world. Because in the beginning only she, Laúd, had pitied the Blue Lord. Old Moosnípol with the seven strings of lute on her Leather Back, the lone mariner who in the beginning had descended to the depths and murmured distant songs in the Sea’s ear. She promised him a companion, firm, sunny and sweet. The Leatherback stole clumps of sand. On her beak she carried them, brought them to the surface, one at a time.

Clumps created mounds, hills, mountains.

And so Mother Moosnípol presented the Sea with a warm, blond companion to caress with his waves. And she gave us a home where we could live without fear of drowning.

She gave us Earth.

But we broke her, and the Sand returned to Sea.

 

 

 

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