Christmas, the lizard and me

THE FIRST CHRISTMAS away from loved ones, which is to say family, something I once had but no longer have, well, if you don’t count my Mexican relatives, most of whom are like aliens to me and vice versa, was spent, if you also don’t count my time in the Air Force, and I don’t remember even one of those Christmases, was spent in a dive bar on Calle Cristo in Old San Juan in the company of an iguana.

It was roundabouts 1974, and I’d just arrived in San Juan, not knowing a single soul.

So there I was in this dive bar on a corner — I don’t recall the cross street — and I’d already downed a few, feeling the spirits, looking at the Christmas lights around the mirror in front of me, when I glanced down at the floor, and there sat the iguana sizing me up. Aside from the barkeep, the iguana and I were the only people present.

Yes, I’m counting the big lizard as people. It was Christmas.

New ImageNow you might think this is a sad Yuletide story, reeking of solitude and loneliness and all that, but actually I was quite content, having a good time. Maybe it was the rum and Coke, but whatever works in a pinch.

I’ve thought about that night almost every Christmas since, later ones that I spent with loved ones, and more recent ones that I’ve spent alone because almost all of my loved ones have died or disappeared.

I’ll be spending this Christmas Eve alone, something I’ve done in recent years, and I’m okay with it. It’s not like I’m a Christian or anything, celebrating the birth of Jesus. There’s also the fact that I love peace and quiet.

The first two, maybe three, Christmases after marrying my child bride, I made attempts to be a part of things, but Mexican things on Christmas Eve wander late into the night, far past my bedtime. I quit doing that, and the both of us are happier for it.

She either goes to the family hullabaloo downtown here or, sometimes, in the nearby state capital, depending on where the mob of them decides. She does not come home, getting little sleep and looking stunned all though Christmas Day. I, on the other hand, get a nice night of sleep and feel just fine on Christmas Day.

Then, one week later, they — and I — do it all over again for New Year’s Eve.

So I’m be sailing solo this evening. Next Sunday too.

For those of you who embrace Christmas either for the birth of the Baby Jesus or for those gifts you’ll be getting, or both, I wish you well.

Like me, get a good night’s sleep. Maybe I’ll dream of that iguana, the rum and Coke and the dive bar on Calle Cristo, the warm Yule night air of the Caribbean.

A Christmas long past.

28 thoughts on “Christmas, the lizard and me

  1. It’s not a religious thing, as I’m generally agnostic, but just part of my philosophy. I live by the Golden Rule, hope for (but don’t expect) peace on earth, and good will.

    I wish there was a more fitting Christmas song than John Lennon’s “And so this is Christmas,” but the world is controlled by greed.

    Here’s hoping the next year brings you happiness, as it will me, because we have both accepted that we only have control of what is in front of us, and life is too short to go through it being miserable. Enjoy the view from the mountaintop!


    1. Kris: We are twins. Who knew? Well, not quite. I was an agnostic for most of my adult life until the late 1990s when I took LSD and, especially, psilocybin. It was an eye-opener, to state it mildly.

      I like Lennon’s songs. I like virtually all Christmas songs a lot. They remind me of my childhood and simpler things. I like simple things. I hope you have a great 2018 too. I’m just glad to still be breathing.


      1. I had experiences with both of those, and became a more thoughtful and, I guess, spiritual person because of that time.

        Breathing is a good thing. Now I have to spend some time with a turkey. I’ve named him Diego.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s lose-lose for me, when I have spent Christmases alone, and I have spent many. I feel as if I am missing out on something. When I spent many Christmases with family and friends, I can’t wait to get out and simply be left alone.

    Merry Christmas, my old friend, a toast to your health and happiness as always,

    Mark in Sunny Arizona


        1. Mark: The mountaintop misses you, especially most of the womenfolk.

          You’d hardly recognize the place now. Traffic lights, chain supermarkets, a real department store, etc. And, alas, way more Gringos.


          1. I could probably do without the way more Gringos part. But I did enjoy the European Gringos if they are referred to as such. And I certainly miss my chocolate calientes with my old friend.


            1. Mark: The Gringo presence has increased about 10-fold since you were here, literally. It’s nothing like their presence in San MIguel, of course, but the atmosphere is changing a bit with their rescuing of dogs and feeding old people and kids. And taking hikes and yammering in English. But old people, kids and dogs need love too, right?

              No such thing as European Gringos. Gringos are Americans, period, though Mexicans often cannot tell the difference between Gringos and Europeans, or even the difference between Gringos and Canucks. I cannot tell the difference between Gringos and Canucks either until the Canucks open their mouths and say something like abowt instead of about.

              Plenty of chocolate caliente awaiting you, old bean.


  3. Living full-time with a well-educated civil engineer love slave and part time zocalo seller of baked goods surrounded by aliens and able to view Gringolandia from afar. All this with fond memories of Christmas with an iguana in a dive bar. Sounds like paradise to me. Felíz Navidad, Señor Felipe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Charles: I did indeed offer the lizard liquid refreshment. I thought it only fitting due to the holiday. However, he turned up his snout at the offer and informed me that insects were the only things that interested him, and that he could make liquid of them easily. We spent the rest of the evening eyeing one another warily.


  4. I was late to have children in life (mid-40s) and late to hook up with social media 18 months ago. It is also nice to have a few good Mexican friends who visit me frequently to help make this holiday memorable. It is indeed a very Merry Christmas and a good time to count your blessings.


    1. Andrés: I was very early to reproduce, just the opposite of you. To date, I cannot name any advantage to having done it. As for friends, it’s good to have them. Relatives too, though I have virtually none. As for counting blessings, I do have blessings, and I count them every day.


  5. Wishing you a relaxing and merry Christmas, Felipe. We just said goodbye to our resident iguana in the Caribbean. I fed him banana which he seemed to like. This Christmas it’s just me and the wife. No parents, no kids and no siblings except for my wife’s brother in the states who she doesn’t speak to. Actually, I just took that ancestry DNA test last year because I was adopted at birth. It seems like I’ve got two half sisters and my birth mother is still alive. Who knows what will happen in 2018. It’s hard to beat 2017, but we’re going to try. Cheers.


    1. Felíz navidad to you too, señor. That ancestry info is certainly interesting. I was not aware that you can find lost relatives using that. That could open a can of worms … or not.

      Cheers to you too.


      1. Yes. The can of worms. As more and more people take these tests (Christmas special now $99) it could get interesting for some. I was just interested in my ethnicity but who knows what distant relatives might pop out of the woodwork. Hopefully I don’t have any kids 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Can I come to your house to keep you company? A delicious respite from the screaming of three-year olds is in order. Or I’ll just go over the to park after nightfall and listen to the owls while keeping watch for the old man in red.


  7. The sound from the TV is keeping me company as the wife has ditched me for a trip south to the land of revolutions and bananas to visit her family. The quietness of the house I now control by the on-off switch or the internet monitor. I do enjoy seeing other people wallow in the festivities and hoopla. I’ll be enjoying the Russian Christmas more, so in a few weeks.

    Merry Christmas and have a good upcoming New Year, my crusty friend.


  8. Merry Christmas, my “ASTUTE” friend, to you and your wife. Someone called me Grumpy the other day. I informed him I was “selectively happy.” There’s a difference, you know. I tolerate Christmas, and that’s sad. I (we) don’t have a lot of them left really. I’ll try and do better next year. All the best.


    1. Bob: Grumpy, eh? Well, in that person’s defense, about every photo I’ve seen of you, and I have seen a few, you do look a bit grumpy. Perhaps you should work on that. But I don’t think you’re grumpy.

      Now it’s time to Deck the Halls and Be Merry!

      I wish you well too.


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