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Progreso, Yucatán, Mexico
It is 11:15 p.m.
My husband has long drifted off into a peaceful sleep to the rhythmic sound of waves from the Gulf of México after a day of walking, swimming in the sea, and an evening of sipping local wine.
I am still awake.
We live on the second floor of a traditional Mexican casa. Stairs to our apartamento are open along the side of the house and available to anyone on the street.
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Each pounding is followed by a deep Spanish “Allo!” My heart hammers inside my chest. Fear grips my wired body. I bolt upright and glance at my husband beside me. Sound asleep. Like a baby.
“Wake up!” I whisper frantically. “Someone is pounding at the door!”
“Huh?” he manages.
Pounding at the door persists.
“Someone’s trying to get in!” I gasp in fear.
Not quite awake, he tries to leap out of bed and into his shorts.
“Look through the peephole!” I beg. “See who it is!”
He disappears. I hear nothing from him, only a steady pounding from outside the door. He reappears in our bedroom which faces the front of the street.
“Can’t see anyone,” he says. “They’re gone.”
It is true. The pounding has stopped.
Loud voices are still audible as the intruder clomps down the stairs. Now more awake, my husband peers out the screened bedroom window that looks onto the street.
“There’s a white car with four-way flashers on in the condo parking lot across the street,” he whispers.
Frozen with fear, I cannot will myself out of bed.
“Is it a police car?” I ask, shaking in the hot, sticky night air.
“No. Never seen it before. Armando (the condo custodian) is talking with the guy in the car. Guess it’s a good thing I didn’t answer the door.”
With that, he removes his shorts, climbs into bed and promptly falls back to sleep.
I can’t believe his nonchalance. I am horrified.
Who was pounding at the door? Why? What do they want? Did we do or say anything that may have offended a Progreseño?
By now my fertile mind is rife with terrible scenarios. Am certain there are hordes of infiltrators from another province that Ivonne at the internet café told us about who are brandishing gleaming knives, ready to murder us and dump our bodies into the Gulf for the sharks to devour. I see us begging for our lives, offering money as bribes, pleading we didn’t mean to do whatever it was we did, if only they leave us alone. We will never again see our beloved sons, our wonderful families. I am paralyzed with anxious agony.
My eyes are wired open. My ears hear every sound --- the noise of the car --- or is it cars? Are they coming or going? I cannot sleep and need to use the washroom now but am terrified to go. What if the marauders hear the toilet flush and know that we are in here after all? They will try again to get us. Then I remember. There is a bottle of Javex in the bathroom. We can use it as a weapon. Throw the bleach into their eyes as they break down the door. We will not go down without a fight.
Finally, the dawn arrives. By some miracle, we are still alive. Although still distraught, I need to know what happened last night.
I walk onto the balcony. It is amazing how comforting the light of day is to the eyes of a terrorized soul. I see a norteamericana woman across the street at the condo and she is talking with Armando, the condo custodian, and waving a piece of paper in her hand. At least Armando appears unscathed. The woman is Elizabeth who lives around the corner from us. Elizabeth sees me on the balcony. She shouts: “Do you know --- blah, blah, blah --- ?”
I shake my head. I cannot hear her.
“...coming to see you,” she yells.
I dash out our wooden door leaping down the stairs while my husband sits in the apartamento calmly reading the morning news on the computer. Elizabeth is waiting at the bottom. She shows me names scribbled on the paper I do not recognize.
Robert from Toronto arrived in Progreso late last night to meet Canadian friends who weren’t there. The white car belongs to the taxi-driver Oswaldo, a wonderful man who helps anyone in distress. He drove all over Progreso in the middle of the night trying to find Robert’s friends. He banged on our door because Armando at the condo told him we were a Canadian couple. He suggested Oswaldo try us.
Which he did. Which threw my active mind into overdrive.
When I climb back up the stairs to our apartamento, I explain all this to my husband as he scans his computer.
“See?” he shrugs, “there is a perfectly logical explanation and it involves a kind Mexican. Certainly not worth losing sleep over.”