Money Talks

What up Bro? I mean, is there anything you can possibly say? I’m good huh? Real fucking good I know! Best Ever? Who’s to judge? 
Consider me your opponent. If I thought you would read this, I probably wouldn’t post it. Usually best to keep the enemy close. 
I made a gross error early on. You turned offensive. I went into Houdini Mode. And for my next move, I am going to make like Adios. 
My abilities to make perfectly sound decisions during the heat of a battle that you were too little too late for, makes me the champ. 
But this isn’t about winning and losing. More winning and winning. I’ve been applying that formula since 2001. It’s called a win-win. 
So you didn’t come up short with me. You just got beat by the King. Or was it the Queen? You know how I can’t play without my Queen.

Shell Game (Day 4)

On Saturday morning, November 8th, I drove exactly 150 miles in one hour forty five minutes. I had slept in til about 8am, and then spent a solid two hours at the complimentary hot breakfast. Waffles, Eggs, Bacon, Yogurt, all of it.

So with my first true bellyful in many days, I left a La Quinta Inn & Suites just outside San Antonio Texas at, well I guess it would have been around 10am. The sun seemed round. The air felt crisp. The wind was blowing hard out of the North.

Me? Well I was finally heading West.

Real early on, I remember seeing a small pack of fat bottomed girls on a frontage road along Hwy 10. The eight of them were all wearing standard day glow, and had rear view mirrors attached to their helmets. Long been a sign of the times. Good for them I thought.

I also remember seeing a consortium of little league fields. Not like a handful of fields, more like a couple dozen of them. Acres upon acres of perfectly carved out baseball fields, all of which appeared to be neatly manicured, with fences, foul posts, covered dugouts, grandstands, scoreboards, you name it. Games were in progress. Snack bars were in full affect.

I couldn’t help but to think back to the once famous 1976 AA Angels, and teammates Beau Mercurio, Danny Thull, Teddy Canedy, and Jon Aufdemburg. Naturally, I began thinking about grade school friends like Kelly Ryan, Kirby Piazza, and Pat Hegarty.

I found a radio station that was playing Classic Rock, and cranked it. Texas was being downright glorious. Cruise control was set at 85mph. I slipped into a No Repeat 20 song set.

Well next thing I knew, I was low on gas. Like real low. The red jig was resting against the black nob. I knew there was reserve but it also felt like I was hindering on nowhere.

It was my bad.  Blame it on letting my guard down.  Look no further than the fact that I was now conducting life in the grand ol’ US of A.  I suppose I supposed that no matter how fucked a situation I could ever get myself into, there was sure to be a safe and easy way out.  

So with all of the above in mind, I made the executive decision NOT to fill the tank at the gas station across the street from La Quinta Inn & Suites because I wanted to drain the dreadful 86 Octane Mexico Gas out of my tank.

And you know what?? I did a damn good job of it.

But guess what?? No worries brah.

And you know why?? Because there She was.

I pulled into this One Shell Town. There were two pumps. Gas was $3.03/gallon.

Before exiting the van, I looked to where my wallet should have been. No dice.

I recall putting my finger on my personal panic button. I tried to remain calm.

Calm wasn’t working. I frantically began pulling apart my van in 40mph wind.

It was high noon, and the reality of the situation was ridiculously overwhelming.

I walked inside Shell. I explained to the lady that I was out of gas and money.

I told her that the last time I saw my wallet was while I was eating waffles.

I phoned Jan and explained my situation. By 12:30 she had a BofA rep on the line.

I told the rep that I was out of cash in BofA, but had money at Wells. He googled it.

“There’s a Wells Fargo in San Angelo about 70 miles away. They close at 2.”

I checked the map.  From Sonora, it appeared to be a straight shot up Hwy 277.

Time was ticking. I was freaking. The wind was howling. I had to make a move.

Scouring the van one last time felt tempting.  I’m an idiot.  What to do, what to do.

I asked the minimum wage employee if I could borrow $25 for gas. She had $22.

With passport in hand, I sped to San Angelo, TX. I arrived at 1:55pm.  Whew!

“You must be Jackass. Welcome to Wells Fargo. We have been expecting you.”

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Fork in the Road (Day 3)

I arrived at the Nuevo Laredo border. This particular border is divided up by a river. That means you are crossing a bridge to get from one country to the other.

They have a booth guy (or girl) collecting tolls on the Mexico Side, and a booth guy (or girl) on the US side checking your passport, asking you trick questions, and peeking through your vehicle. If these kids suspect anything non-kosher, they send you along to the patrol area where you park, get out of your car, and trained police officers ask you additional questions as they scour amuck.

So I get up to the second booth after sitting in line and inching along the bridge for about and hour and a half. I get to the lady, smile wide, and give her my passport. In the distance, I see a Taco Bell, A Wall Mart, and an Applebees. No way man.

In English, I ask her where I need to go to re import my van. In English, she tells me that I needed to do that back in Mexico. She points towards Mexico. You have GOT to be fucking kidding me lady! She tells me to watch my mouth or she’ll make my life miserable. I tell her nice try, but my life just got as miserable as it can get.

I was paralyzed.  I tried to process why I felt this way, and what was really at stake. I had about $400 tied up in an importation deposit, and if I didn’t go back into Mexico and do the paperwork, then A. I would of course lose the deposit, and B. I could never bring another automobile registered in my name into Mexico again. It all felt lame. The radical journey felt incomplete. Maybe failure is a better word.

Fuck, by now I should have been driving 90+ mph on cruise control towards San Antonio. Instead, I drove, I stopped, I drove and then stopped. Then I pulled over.

I thought about calling someone now that my flip phone had a signal. Who could I possibly call? What could I possibly say? I scratched that idea.

It was 4pm. I was extra alone now. I was in a very strange state of mind. I fought all my demons. I started the van and began inching my way back on Hwy 35. I stopped again. I inched. I stopped. I inched. I pulled off at a Pizza Hut parking lot.

It all seemed like a pretty fucking dumb situation to be in. It almost felt like the dumbest fucking situation you could possibly be in, and there I was, in it. To myself I thought, Really Guy…after finally reaching US soil, after waiting in line for 90 minutes, after a 10 hour driving day, after a week straight of operating on sheer adrenalin, you’re actually thinking about going right back into Mexico just to keep your record clean and get a $400 deposit back?

You bet I am did.

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Let’s Get This Party Started (Day 1)

I drove real slow to minimize any chance of a flat tire or any sort of breakdown. I didn’t need a breakdown. Personal or otherwise.

I had nothing on the top of the van. That decision proved to be one of my best ever. Like better than best.

I had five, 12 foot Stand Up Paddle boards inside my van. I had a couple of regular surfboards stuffed in there too. I had my full size Roland keyboard. A couple sets of speakers. Clothes, rugs, suitcases, coolers, fins, blankets, tennis rackets, and all sorts of other little shit.

I began this solo journey through the heart and guts of Mexico from The Manialtepec Lagoon. The Manialtepec Lagoon is located about 20 klicks WNW of Puerto Escondido. The goal was to reach Cuernavaca.

Pretty straightforward drive. An excruciatingly, slow-going 400 kilometers up Hwy 200 towards Acapulco, followed by a very speedy 350 kilometers on a toll road towards Mexico City via Cuernavaca. Like a 10 hour, 375 mile day altogether. People do it in eight hours, but I ain’t those people. It’s really the worst leg of the drive.

I chose to head home in the EXACT reverse direction that I had just driven here but two months ago, and nobody could talk me out of it either.

Like you perhaps, I had been hearing about the troubles in the state of Guerrero. You know, the missing 43 students from the Acapulco area that have been popping up dead in ditches and dumpsters. Well six hours of my day was going to be spent driving in the state of Guerrero. Sketch.

I made my first stop at an OXXO/Pemex. I had only gone 80 miles in three hours. I put a little gas in the tank even though it didn’t need it. I bought an Arizona tea and a Snickers bar. It was then that I split up all my money into four hiding spots. I’m real good at hiding spots.

At this point, all seemed to be good. No incidences to report. Oh I did see a dead calf on the side of the road with big buzzards standing on it, and a couple of savage dogs ripping it apart. Other than that, not too much else freaked me out.

80 down, 2,920 miles to go.

Well it didn’t take but being in Guerrero 20 miles before I found myself in the first, of what would ultimately become five roadblocks. It was noon.  I got out of the van. One guy said it should only be thirty minutes. Another guy said they were real serious, and it was going to be at least three hours. The snow cone guy said that the tamale guy said that it was going to last until dark. Did you say d d d d dark??

The only person that appeared to be nervous was me. I was halfway to Acapulco, daylight was already half over, and now i wasn’t moving.

Not good.

And it was hot.

And i was alone.

When i got to the fourth roadblock, I was forced to seek shade on the right side of my van. It was now 330pm, and the sun was murder. Ducking behind the shady side of my white van proved to be the only refuge. Although that is when i noticed the screw in my right front tire. It’s moments like this that warrant a travel partner.

I found my tire pressure thing and tested the PSI. It was 15 lbs low. Good Fucking Grief Guy! I decided not to pull it out or put on the spare despite a reasonably well dressed man telling me that this roadblock wouldn’t let up til after dark. Did you say d d d dark? Decisions, Decisions.

Long story short.

Ten grueling hours to Acapulco, followed by five hours in the dark to Cuernavaca. Around 9pm, I finally pulled over at a neon sign that read Hotel Rosario. I came to find out real quick that their specialty is two hour room reservations. Two hours? Ohhhhh….two hours. Wink.  You pull in your car. They hide your car. You and your secret someone slip through a hidden door that leads to a private room. In the room there is a bed, a bathroom, a television, and a jacuzzi.

I told the kind lady that I was alone, and needed a room for the entire night. She said I could do that too. Since I was no longer in the tropics, I made sure they had hot water. They did.

I paid cash, took a 20 minute hot shower, ordered a burger and a quesadilla from room service, and watched porn until I fell fast asleep. It was the only thing on the boob.  Pun times.

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Go Time

i didn’t sleep one minute. pulled an official all nighter. it began at 6pm. tense times. but i knew all of it was in my head, and not yours. so i would ask that you don’t even try to relate. or try, i don’t care.

i was pretty buckled up. i wished i had more money, but knew i could get it done with what i had, and that kept being good enough for me. so i go into my cabana at 6pm for one last time. fan on.

i then go eleven straight hours. lying down most of the time of course, but not asleep. way too much that was, and was about to be going on. so i stay awake. at 5am i see my opening and take it.

mary was in the restaurant brewing coffee for me. i whispered a yell. we sat down. i could have cried. she served up hot coffee and sweet bread. i had nothing left to say. she most certainly understood.

by 530, don nacho entered the restaurant. he tried to make things light with his extensive english. he knew where my head was at. i continued seeming nervous. he kept telling me to relax. at 6am i was gone.

they stood outside the restaurant and waved goodbye. it was still slightly dark. i drove up the dirt driveway to hwy 200. i turned left. that would be north. this was about to get fucking nuts.