Journey back from Acapulco stars a mouse

Published 8:45 am Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Column: Sara Aeikens, Creative Connections

Sara Aeikens

Dear Al Batt, traveler, naturalist and humorist:

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My husband, sister, niece and I just spent a fantastic week in Acapulco, Mexico. I especially cherish it because I got to use the Spanish I learned almost 50 years ago in the Peace Corps in Venezuela. With reports of violence in Mexico vacation spots, the United States tourists numbers dropped, and we found ourselves among mostly Mexican vacationers. We never felt unsafe and used ample opportunities to learn about both culture and language.

Nature provided us with living, close-up views numerous times. On an island beach, schools of small-sized fish swarmed near our sand-soaked feet while we gathered shells. On the coastline we saw crabs (animal, not human) doing sideways dances on the rocks. We delighted in the romping of yellow-tailed fish we watched on our 20-minute trip back to the mainland on a glass-bottomed boat.

Birds of contrasting sizes and bright colors, from black vultures to yellow finches, awakened us from the coconut palms near our veranda room overlooking the Pacific Ocean cliffs at Los Flamingos Hotel. We noticed tiny geckos that appeared to be glued to our ceilings. We saw spouting whales and their lively babies following ocean currents. A black-clawed creature lived near our steps; it looked like a raccoon with a wrap-around striped tail.

The scenery was relaxing, the food tropical and the breezes welcomed. This hammock swinging hideaway used to be the vacation getaway of Hollywood stars Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Errol Flynn and Johnny Weissmuller.

Leo Aeikens, left, and Sara Aeikens, second from right, stand on each side of Adolfo Santiago, the owner of Hotel Los Flamingo. On the right is staff member Saul Martinez. — Submitted photo

However, the real star in my eyes, turned up near the end of our trip when we returned to the United States. The ping-pong-ball-sized light brown mouse, spotted in the Dallas airport at our departure gate for our last trek northward, perked up the weariest traveler’s attention.

He looked like a mite-sized kangaroo that had stuck his pointy nose in an electrical socket. His sported a double-bend string tail. His fidgety claw paws seemed terribly huge even in relation to his total puff factor. Someone smuggled snacks to him in a visible, non-squash section under the waiting area seats, so the fearless managed great photo shoots, while the mouse munched on crackers. The creature captivated most all people within inches of his chomping and with no hindrance from those usual animal cage bars, like at the zoo. Yes, he was probably tame and famous among frequent fliers.

The mouse show appeared as a diversionary finale before our dutiful obligations immediately following our Twin Cities touchdown. We all dreaded to face those weaving lines of suitcase laden, mostly tan or overly red tourists like us, anxiously awaiting word from or about customs, immigration and drastic temperature droppings, as opposed to our previous mouse droppings experience.

P.S.: Since you could be helpful in specifically identifying some of nature’s creatures, I didn’t want to make our Acapulco trip sound like our best vacation. That might have to be a far north trip we took to Alaska with Al Batt as the tour guide. Nothing could top the cool blue-green glaciers we experienced, even though confusingly enough, the temperatures were much hotter than presently here in Albert Lea. I began by writing you about my vacation animal experiences and end with a weather report — a classic symptom of “hemisphere shift shock,” with a side effect of “elliptical thinking.” I hope to recover soon. Thanks for reading my story.

Sara Aeikens is an Albert Lea resident and frequent traveler.