A hole in the wall shaded by an eucalyptus groove,
we stop drawn by a colorful sign
“Come get fresh coconuts!” it said,
we think “Okay fine!”
Papel picados everywhere
like a dia de los muertos scene
red, pink, blue, green,
Inside we meet Ren,
Hawaiian shirt and a handsome face,
looks like he had some stories to share,
owns some graying hair
and sports a paunch.
“Hello! We need some coconuts,” I announce,
he fishes out a machete
and scalps off young coconuts like some Hawaiian warlord,
they are sweet in their death.
“Your place looks happy.”I tell him,
my Sancho panza sits there and stares at the ceiling.
We eat the tacos we ordered in silence,
strange to be eating tacos,
under a canopy of papel picados
somewhere in a tropical forest.
After observing us and stealing glances,
Ren finally decides it okay to come close
and tell us of his younger days,
about the masks he hangs on the wall of his Gods
he found while digging for his roots.
The room speaks volumes
of his love of music,
so I ask him about it
and he tells me how he used to follow Etta James,
in Los Angeles and San Francisco from first row seats,
about his love of Maui,
he waves his hands as he speaks
and bats his eyelids,
flashing smiles on dimpled cheeks,
I find it sweetly endearing.
Total comfort of people sharing
a laughter here, a question there,
this is why I love traveling.
I promised Ren I’d write about him
prose might’ve been a better option,
one day I’ll weave him into my stories,
for now this is a promise kept,
of this colorful man
with the papel picados,
his masks of Mexican gods
and his mystery of how he came to be living
under an eucalyptus groove,
metamorphosed from a social butterfly
to selling coconuts,
tacos and stories.