I found Iz in her “office”. That was our name for her catch-all room off the main kitchen. She was seated with her back to the doorway, her grey curls haloed by the light from her computer screen.

She was checking her email, and had probably been at it for hours. Iz habitually received upwards of 80 messages at a time, from all over. She preferred reading them in one fell swoop, and would often do so late at night after everyone else had gone to bed. It was not unusual for her to stay up well into the wee hours, while it was quiet enough for her to work without interruption.

That morning, I timed my intrusion into her sphere as a sort of pre-breakfast break, supplied as I was with a hot mug of her then-favourite beverage, green tea. And I banked on the common knowledge that Iz was always more than willing to give her full attention to anyone who asked for it, be they child, dog, cat or adult. She greeted me warmly: not as the Queen of Yelapa, granting an audience, but as Mom, welcoming be back into the fold.

We were free to just talk, so we talked about nothing. I shared that I had been working on a story about Saul, about my first meal at his restaurant long ago. I had his sea turtle soup, which tasted pretty much like watery beef. A marine biologist friend, who also tried the turtle soup, remarked that for all we knew, we might´ve been eating donkey. Iz chuckled but didn´t say “yea” or “nay” to the possibility.

We went on to compare notes on the flavours of frog´s legs, venison, ostrich and iguana, and agreed that most people say that most exotic meats taste like chicken.

Then she recalled how, a couple of years ago, she had killed a rattlesnake in the garden. Not wanting to waste anything, she cut it up and prepared it as little appetizers, which she fed to anyone who wanted to try them.

I had to ask: “Did anyone know they were eating snake steaks?”

¨No. But they thought they were delicious.”

“And…rattlesnake tastes like….?”

“Oh, like chicken.

We both got a good laugh out of that one



This story was written by Isabel, as an exercise in our Yelapa Writer´s Support Group. By a stroke of luck she allowed me to copy it down, so now it´s been saved from falling into obscurity. (I reprint it by permission of her daughter, Gail.)