Going down to the beach at sunrise on my first morning here, I recognized the woman with the garden hose. She stood in front of her house, sprinkling the alleyway’s dust. Her round face, paunchy belly, and vividly colorful top were somewhat familiar from my two previous visits to Tamarindo. The façade of her house is of solid concrete block, with a row of filigree at the top, and from these openings emanates a fierce amount of woodsmoke as she prepares meals. The garland of flowers on the wall somehow withstands this.
“Buenos días,” I said that first day and repeated it two or three other times in ensuing days. She always has the green manguera in hand. If I have missed her in the act of sprinkling and she has gone inside, I see the wetted dust.
Yesterday, though, I found her where the alley empties into the paved street at the beachside. We started chatting.
“You’re always up so early,” I said.
She told me rises around 4.00 a.m. daily. Indeed, yes, that’s early. “But I go to bed at half-past seven. I don’t like TV.” She allowed that she does enjoy a nap around 2.00 p.m.
I told her my name and that I’m from the United States. I thought she said her name was Maia.
Thinking about her all day, I decided to get her picture this morning. I set off as usual. When I entered her alley, she was just shutting off the water.
“Could I take your picture?” I asked.
She said nothing but didn’t flee inside. She listened to my instructions for posing. I took a three snaps, none of which suited me when we looked at the display.
“Were you born here in Tamarindo?”
“Do you work?”
“Just here in the house.”
At that moment, a tremendous bang sounded against the zinc roof.
“A mango,” she said.
I looked up and indeed saw a mango tree spreading over much of the roof’s expanse.
“It would be frightening if that happened in the night.”
“Sometimes it happens.”
I told her that I wasn’t sure whether it would be worse to have a mango fall like that or to hear a monkey’s howling at 4.00 a.m.
“They come through these trees,” she said.
Looking through the front door, I noticed firewood stacked against the back wall of the interior. Then I remembered that I had wanted to make sure I could spell her name.
“Is it M-a-i-a or M-a-y-a?”
“Mayra,” she corrected.
“How do you spell it?”
She shrugged her left shoulder ever so slightly.
“Mucho gusto!” I said, turning for the beach.