The Jade Notebook

The Jade Notebook by Laura Resau Read Free Book Online

Book: The Jade Notebook by Laura Resau Read Free Book Online
Authors: Laura Resau
over a giant wad of seaweed. “It’s a good thing too. There’s no development there, no electric lights to confuse the turtles.”
    “Confuse them?”
    “The baby turtles always head toward light. For millions of years, the only light came from the sea—the moonlight and starlight on the water. If there were electric lights on the beach, the hatchlings would head in the wrong direction. They’d never make it to the ocean.”
    I grab his hand, swing it in mine. “And here I thought the no-electricity thing was just Layla’s excuse to go crazy with candlelight. Now I know she’s just a turtle lover at heart.”
    “Yup. Your dad would be proud.”
    “Proud?” I watch a flock of gulls that flies up as we approach and settles a safe distance ahead.
    “He loves turtles, right? I mean, that’s his nickname.
Tortue
. Turtle. He’d be proud of all the pro-turtle changes since he left.”
    I try to imagine how my father would feel, returning after so many years away. Would he feel the same sense of homecoming that I do? Would people welcome him? He left Mazunte to escape something. And he supposedly returned to become the person he wanted to be. What problems did he want to resolve, exactly? What made him leave this paradise?
    We turn away from the water and head down a path between buildings to downtown Mazunte. I take a deep breath and brace myself to find the answers.

    Downtown Mazunte consists of a single paved street, with a few dirt roads branching off toward the beach. Wendell and I are planning to combine the father search with grocery shopping. Casually questioning market vendors seems easier than approaching strangers cold. And it will give us a chance to get to know the locals better. So far, in our whirlwind of gathering supplies and equipping the cabanas—not to mention lounging in hammocks—we haven’t taken the time to talk to people, introduce ourselves as new members of the community.
    “Tortillas,” I say, looking at the scrap of paper holding my grocery list.
    Wendell points to the
tortillería
, what must be the source of the delicious toasted-corn smell. Breathing in deep, we buy fresh tortillas from an elderly lady whose white braid is woven with a long silver ribbon. Her face is a friendly mass of wrinkles, her eyes clouded behind cataracts. Despite the oppressive heat, she wears a cardigan and a black shawl. A little radio on the table plays sad, romantic songs, all about love and loss, kisses and graves.
    Suddenly, it dawns on me:
I might find my father today. Within the next few hours
. I have his name. It might be as simple as asking directions to his house. Am I ready for this?
    Wendell must notice how nervous I look. “You sure you’re okay, Z? We can wait—”
    I shake off his question. “I’m tired of waiting, Wendell. I have to do this.”
    I peer toward the back of the little shop, where a younger woman collects the steaming tortillas coming out of a machine, quickly piling them on a metal stand. Meanwhile, the older woman sits behind a little wooden table covered in a flowered plastic cloth, tending to customers. She weighs a stack of tortillas on her scale, adds a few extra with a wink, and wraps them in rough pink paper. There’s no one else in line, so we introduce ourselves.
    She shakes our hands warmly, introduces herself as Elisa.
    After some small talk about the weather, I feel more relaxed, braver. I take a deep breath and whip out my notebook. “Doña Elisa, do you happen to know a José Cruz from this area?”
    She barks a laugh. “José Cruz?
Pues
, I know lots of them.” She tilts her head and hands me the pink package of tortillas. “A mountain of them!” she adds with another laugh.
    My stomach sinks. “Well, this José Cruz is probably around forty years old. He left for many years and only recently came back.”
    Doña Elisa shoots me a smile. “Now, that narrows the possibilities down to about twenty! Many men leave to work in the United States or

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