I pulled over at Cafetal because I spotted 72 y/o Hogan sitting in there all alone. He is my friend for no particular reason. I mean that in an altruistic sort of way. I think he is originally from Ohio. He’s the type of guy that appreciates a guy like me. We chatted for a good 20 minutes. He was real happy to see me and let it be known. The big news out of Camp Hogan was that he quit smoking after 50 years. My advice to him was Sour Apple Jolly Ranchers.
I told him that I was just now heading home from a long morning helping out an old lady. Hogan wanted to know what she needed help with. The better question would have been why was I helping out an old lady. Needless, I began by saying that for three straight months, three mornings per week, without missing even one day, I have been visiting her at her house for no particular reason. You know, one thing lead to another which lead to twelve others.
Hogan smiled and told me that was pretty altruistic of me. I needed a definition. He gave me one. His definition made more than just sense, it made a believer out of me. I lost myself momentarily as I pieced a few more ironies and coincidences together. Yet another signal that was attached to a meaning that had latched onto an omen that once again was reminding me to stay the course and keep my eye on the prize. Life was whispering. I was listening.
it was 9ish. in the am. it had rained all night. i got on my piece of shit bike and zig zagged my way to hwy 200. lots of big clouds billowing amongst the tall mountains. the air was clear. it was both warm and cool. probably 75. i had a shirt on. the front derailer on my piece of shit bicycle was rusted stuck in the small ring. nothing i could do about it at the moment. i was feeling good though. a tailwind was in affect, and mostly downhill where i was going. i was headed to main beach hoping to see some monsters get ridden. the indicator flag was showing medium offshores. again, i was in the zone, and had so many reasons to feel that way too. more than anything, i was grateful & satisfied.
and then i saw the dead dog laying in the highway. now if a similar sketch could be drawn up in The States, it likely wouldn’t have been a dog afterall. it would have been a skunk, raccoon, maybe a cat. if it were a dog in the US, there would have been five people crying, one person suing, two policeman policing, a pet insurance agent, a pet cemetery rep, and 20+ lookie-loos. here in puerto, there was a dead fucking dog on the road. a young dingo style female. blood and guts everywhere. eyes were closed. if that dog were mine, it would be alive today, and, after a life filled with every possible opportunity to understand mankind, that dog would die a different death. but this dog wasn’t mine.
when i first came here in 2005, that dog would have been mine. when i began coming here in the winter for two months time, that dog would have been mine. the past few years, as two months were converted to six months, that damn dog just might have been mine. but today…that dog wasn’t mine. i gestured up. i thought about a dog or three. but that was it. there was a dead dog on the highway, and it was my time to deal straight. at least it was good and dead i thought. versus perhaps a starving, dying dog. i decided to handle the situation like the dogs mother, brother, or pack buddy would have coped with the plight. i put it behind me, and rambled on down the road.
He must have chuckled when he heard my promise. puerto escondido was being sandwiched by Manuel and Ingrid. heavy rains had made it near impossible to venture out anywhere. the injury to my foot made all matters laughable.
I told the kid that i would pay ALL my rent up front if he would give me my fair asking price. his knees wobbled. he pretended he was uneasy. he told me that he normally would have to check with his wife. how cute! he was using all MY moves.
He agreed to 5000 pesos per month, which is $400 to you and me. so I needed 25,000 pesos and the ATM only gives out 6000 per day. so each day, for 4.17 consecutive days, i found a way to get to Central in order to keep my promise.
I think he was surprised at my due diligence. truth is, i didn’t have to keep my promise. nobody keeps their promise around here. i just figured i would perform the unthinkable, hoping that it would lend itself out to a groovy brotherhood.
He handed me the four keys it takes to fruitfully live at his three room hotelito. two keys for the front door, one key for the gate to the stairs, and one key for the gate to the compound. the over/under bet on keys lost by March opened at 11.
I asked his age. he told me he is 37. i asked him his birthday. he said June 23rd. no way..that was my grandmas birthday i told him. and it’s mine too I said with a wink. he is 6/23/76, and i am 6/23/67. numbers can mean everything.
He offered up his truck to help with my move. i passed on that kind gesture for the time being. i told him that my game plan was to perform solo on a dozen or so stealth missions using just my backpack and my bicycle. he understood perfectly.
**jimel, is this your email? please reply.**Yes sir, this is my email. And im gonna keep beating u in chess (jimel the master) “Im the assassin” You better practice cause im coming in strong, if you don’t you wont even be able to keep up with me. Im just tell in u. From jimel the assassin to hudiny.**yeah we’ll see tough guy. right now it’s 3 for you and 2 for me. beginners luck my young mexican friend. you ain’t seen nothin yet…**Jajajaja, Im like Mohamed Ali. I talk but I also do what I say, so watch out brah cause im young, strong, not distracted… And that game that we played wasn’t even all what I got, im just testing you ja. watch out, from JIMEL THE ASSASSIN to hudiny the beginner **you ready to play tomorrow assassin? we can play at your house. i will bring my set. and by the way, it’s Houdini. ok let me know..
44 hours later
Friday The 13th
I showed up lame with ice-cold ice in my hand. The taxi kid said he couldn’t continue any further, forcing me to limp up the muddy incline towards the iron gate surrounding the compound. I was only 36 hours removed from stepping on something razor sharp with my bare left foot. Could have used a shot of tetanus.
The boys mother was in the kitchen. She said her middle son would be home shortly. I began icing my foot. Mom brought me some chia seed water and a plate of brown rice with cooked platano. My foot was freaking killing me. The Assassin showed up at three sharp. His younger brother and father led him into the ring.
Before we began, I wanted to make sure he understood the en passant. He said that he did. He wanted to make sure that I knew who the current world chess champion was(is). I told him that I hadn’t a clue. “Well it was this 19 year old Russian, but a 12 year old boy from India just took him down.” He opened first.
We played ten games in six fast hours. I won games 3, 9, and 10. Throughout the painful ordeal, his mother brought us whole bean soup, and homemade tostadas. After all the rain had fallen, I was searching for excuses. Not surprisingly, so was The Assassin. His father drove me home. Heavy rain had once again begun to fall.
I chose a spot without a kitchen. No kitchen fell under the Con column obviously. I just figured I could make do. I convinced myself how down to earth it would be to keep things in a cooler. I’d get one bowl. One spoon. Cave man sort of stuff.
I chose a spot with a bathroom. A bathroom didn’t really have a column obviously. I just figured I needed one. I convinced myself how clean I could make myself be in this dirty environment. I’d get soap. Shampoo. Those kinds of cleaning agents.
The lack of kitchen began to gnaw at me, and as I slowly began to do something about it, I realized that making a kitchen isn’t so easy. And sort of costly. And then I finally hit myself over the head with my dumb stick when I realized that no matter how Sunset Mag I was going to make my kitchen, I was still going to be without a kitchen sink. It’s always something here!
So I just said fuck it and began doing the dishes and washing the fruits and vegetables Kramer Style. First off, when you’re showering, every other amenity in the bathroom gets soaked anyway. Every One. Plus, I take up to a half dozen cold showers per day anyway. It just makes all the sense in the world. Different strokes for different folks. And different soaps tambien.
I drove up the nice hill to the nice house with the nice driveway. Before I even got to the nice door to meet the nice lady, I already knew that the stain on the concrete porch that she was referring to was hot chocolate.
I rang the doorbell. She seemed surprised to see a guy like me. I was dressed about as stylishly dysfunctional as imaginable. I guess she had formed a different impression of me during our 45 minute phone conversation.
She asked me again if I thought it was possible to remove the coffee stain. I told her with conviction that it wasn’t coffee. She asked how I knew. I told her that I am The King, and that I knew things about things.
She was impressed, and paid me $200 cash upfront to remove the stain. An hour later I gave the money back to her because I determined that it was a Mocha. She offered me up a four course breakfast for my honesty. I was spent.
I did the unthinkable this spring and summer. Mentally, Physically, and Spiritually. I went to a deep dark place, where Shawshank Redemption and The Karate Kid got played over and over and over. And I was over it.
I showed up looking the best I could given the circumstances. I was wearing flip-flops, board shorts, and a modified Pizza My Heart tee shirt. I was carrying a tennis racquet and a Churchill fin in my left hand and four small oranges in my right hand. My backpack was filled with all my technology. It was 9:30 in the morning. I rang the chimed bell that was situated on the rod iron gate. Bougainvillea up the kazoo. Pita and Lucy were going nuts.
The kind lady from New Jersey saw that it was me and came right out. She asked if I had made a decision or not. I told her that I had decided to stay and that I was humbled and grateful for the arrangement they were providing. I got down on one knee and quietly began to showcase my pseudo mastery with one of her canines. The nice lady took notice of that pseudo ability. She offered me an ice cold Peligrino in a glass cup. Was there a Trader Joe’s in town that I didn’t know about?
I set my stuff down in my new room and took a half nap. It had been a long couple of days. Puerto had me in the grind of late, and I was in need of some peace and quiet. Most of my belongings were still way up in The Lazaro District, and God only knew when I was going to get them back. I didn’t care. Something poignant was within smelling distance. A new beginning was in the process of flushing my system.
Box of chocolates? Long, strange trip? As I sat alone under an enormous rooftop palapa, high amongst the Coconut, Mango, and Ficus trees, I couldn’t help but think about what was coming next. Seventeen years ago to the very hour, I proudly walked down the aisle in Reno, NV with some young lady I once knew. Today I am existing alone in a three year new custom mansion in the warm tropics with an East Coast Gringo Lady, a brilliant Oaxacan Man, two rescued canines, and one small green parrot.
I had a 3.5 hour layover in LAX and I’m not even sure what I did to kill that time. I suppose I just observed overweight people fixed on their technology. Of course I made sure to do the opposite. I remained skinny and kept all my technology in my bag. I ate my pack of Rolos, my Peanut M&Ms, and then fidgeted about until Midnight.
The three hour flight from LAX to D.F. is and was a breeze. The half empty flight landed promptly at 5:23am local time. All I remember about my eight hour layover in Mexico City InterGalactical Airport is that I drank a ton of Starbucks coffee just to stay warm. Although I was dressed in tennis shoes w/ socks, long pants, long sleeve shirt, and a hat, I still froze my ass off. It appeared that everybody in my terminal had healthy, sturdy backs, and were way warmer than I was tambien. Hard times for this 43 year old. I had the Nano on Shuffle and was doing everything I could just to stay alive.
But now the time had arrived. The only flight that mattered. It was 1:30pm and AeroMar was taking me to Puerto Escondido. About twenty of us took a two mile bus ride along the more remote areas of the tarmac. We finally pulled up to the big ol’ jet airliner. The pilots and pretty airline attendants were waiting with thumbs up, and smiles all around. We entered from the rear of the plane, and I got on very last. That’s my new thing.
The plane was half full. I doubled up on the delicious vegetable sandwich they offered as well as a couple of Dos Equis. I sat on the left side of the plane which I knew would give me a remarkable view of all Puerto once the jet makes the big sweeping left hander over the ocean during the final decent. There was obvious swell in the water. I got off the jet last. Normally that is not my thing.
The huge sign on the airport wall reads Bienvenidos a Puerto Escondido. The airport is tiny. One gate in one terminal. I walked off the plane onto the tarmac. The wind was blowing 20 knots and it was 82 degrees. Let there be no doubt that I had arrived in the Mexican Tropics.
A couple different pairs of Federalis with machine guns watched us all get off the plane. I was wearing my dark Kaenons and kept my head down. The dark brownish/blackish 120lb Malinois Shepherd sniffed every single bag that was loaded onto baggage claim. Well Lookie Here. My bag came off first. I grabbed it, turned to my right, and sure enough there was Papa Chango.