I went to worship at the cathedral of bumpy rides in a vanfull of middle-aged mermaids, topless in their heads, bra-less in the skirts, with a rough-chinned guide who fed us piñas by the root. The yuccas sang their siren song accompaniment, harmonies from heliconias and green chakras enveloped us like starving angels.
By the lagoon the crocodile asked me for a dance. I denied him. Instead I lied down, legs spread, Hollywood shades warming in the sun like a kingfisher branch. My skin turned cordyline pink and the caimans fell in step for their French cancan. Tatjana from Bolivia spread her feathered knowing like sweet jam and all hushed into silence.
Volcanoes lazied about inside distant clouds and I rose from my slumber to the howling of long-armed monkeys. They called my name, Valentine! Valentine! Valenteen! from their hiding knots in the trees.
A mama with a wrinkled face handed me a fish head. It smiled with pointy puppy teeth. It smiled at death, at platanos fritos, at all our gringa hang ups. It offered up its crispy flesh on the altar of our experience.
For a brief moment, the mermaids turned into gold.
For a brief moment, the mango from the winking truck guy cascaded down my chin.
For a brief moment, my fingers worried about stickiness and e-coli and the mud that giggles under my nails.
For eternity I had found my home.