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.
I was raised in Orange County California. I was long gone by the time it became known as The OC. For the most part, the orange groves that dominated the area were long gone before I even left. That was 1985. I can’t imagine there being a single orange tree left in this concrete county. Four car garages, ten lane highways, and drive thru Gaps & Starbucks scour this oasis nowadays.
In the United Snakes, I’ve noticed that ‘From Concentrate’, and ‘Not From Concentrate’ orange juices have begun to taste the same. I will even go so near to say that the supposed high end OJ’s like Odwalla and Naked have all been coaxed into hiding truths and cutting tasty corners for profit and the like. It’s not fresh squeezed if it’s been sitting in plastic and/or glass for however long.
Truth be told, I can’t remember the last time I had a satisfying, mouth watering orange in the US. Dry and Mealy come to mind. All Peel, No Deal. Wherever I go, there they are. Bionically neon orange in color. Giant in size. Way too expensive. Crap to eat and probably bad for you in the end. Just an observation. Not the oranges I grew up on. Certainly not the oranges worth writing about.
The best orange juice in my town of Santa Cruz comes from Taqueria Vallarta of all places. It’s the best orange juice because you get 24oz of fresh squeezed juice for something like three bucks. I guess that’s a good deal. Maybe it ain’t. Regardless, some young Mexican fires up a stainless juicer and actually squeezes oranges into a cup. My cup. It takes like ten oranges to make the 24 ounces.
The canopied Nissan for this coastal colony sells 25 oranges for $1.60US. You can hear him on the loudspeaker a mile away. He wears a cowboy hat even though he is full blown indian. His oranges are more greenish/brown than they are orange. None of them are giant in size. None have stickers claiming organic. A film of dirt covers every single one. Each orange is earth temp. Pesticides.
I have been here a month and have cut into over 100 of this gentleman’s oranges. Every orange, and I mean every single one, is just a gusher of honest nectar. All equally as sweet despite how they may appear to my threatened eye. Cut in half, they are as orange as a setting sun. Three little oranges can make a 12 ounce glass no problemo. Same as it ever was, same as it ever was…
It’s Friday night in the Mexican tropics, and I’ve had my share of cold beer. It’s a full moon and I feel like howling. Not as much as I feel like itching though. Must resist the temptation! The skin goes through an adjustment period during which every little bite and/or sting has a longer-lasting affect than it will once the adjustment period ends. It’s true.
I’m all alone tonight in the treehouse for the first time since I‘ve arrived. PC is watching over a neighbor’s property, and loving up the animals that live within it. I will admit that it’s a little eerie up here in the tree without the big chief around. I shut the trap door entrance, which happens to be the only entrance. It’s times like this when it’s good to have a Calico kitty around, and thankfully I do.
Thursday will be remembered for three things: 1. Discovering the bread baker right around the corner from my tree. 2. Easily having my best bit of ball work to date. 3. Running into my Israeli friend Tal.
Discovering the bread baker has multiple meanings. There’s the obvious meaning. Who wouldn’t want an option to walk 100 steps barefoot over to the nice old lady at 10am, six days per week, knowing that she will hand you a warm, fresh loaf of pan in a paper bag, and only ask for 20 Pesos? Score! And then there’s the second meaning, which but a tiny percentage of the world’s population will ever understand, and I intend to keep it that way.(Shout out to the big Gardizzle at Irise Bakery. Represent)
The ball work thing is easy to explain. The work I’ve done to date is beginning to show. It definitely showed up Thursday evening. A combination of energy and strength sort of weaseled into my broken body, and I knew just what to do with it. I haven’t felt this right since before busting up both ankles this past summer. If I’m smart, and I am, I should be able to use this day as a building block for the next six weeks.
It’s no wonder I ran into Tal half way through this particular workout. He’s a hulk, in and of himself. He’s just a kid though. He was throwing a big stick into the ocean for his newly acquired black lab. I was dripping in sweat, so we didn’t talk long. I told him that he is exactly like my brother-in-law.(not in stature) He shot a video of me telling him my email. He followed that slick trick up by sending me an email. Nice work Tal.
So here it is, Friday evening in Puerto Escondido, late January 2010. I wore my Crocs all afternoon because drinking and being barefoot around here is a very bad idea~Especially at night. This morning I woke up knowing that this was going to be my final post pertaining to what exactly it is that I am doing down here. I determined that I had painted that picture accurately enough, and didn’t want to beat a napping horse. With February 2010 set to begin on Monday, I knew it was time to change subjects all together.
A new SW swell is appearing tomorrow, and I have told myself I am ready for it. I am using this entire weekend to free myself from the daily grind of this hectic blogging responsibility, and begin preparing for what is next. What is next?
…My nickname would have to be Lazy Susan.
I woke up cold on Tuesday morning. I had to turn the fan off around 4am, and put on a long sleeve T. It’s been a bit chilly in the morning lately. Around 8a, I ran barefoot with surfboard to main beach. First time performing this exact act. From the tree it’s about a mile and a quarter. The surf was definitely up a bit. The water warmer than the air, which is the preferred combination if you ask me.
Still getting my bearings out there for sure. Made a number of waves. Cut back on the number of times I got hucked into oblivion. Lost my board to shore all morning long. Countless duck dives. Nothing notable worth writing home about. From the water, sitting on your surfboard, the landscape views of the 10,000 foot Sierra Madre peaks, coupled with the solid walls of spitting, almond shaped barrels, are definitely a stoke in and of themselves. Beware! Being too much of a lookie loo in these waters will quickly put you in harms way. There ain’t no safety channels in Puerto Escondido, and a lip to your being will guarantee you a visit to Dr. Pepe!
Surfed two hours, ran home, and didn’t do too much the rest of the day. I read, wrote, and relaxed. I watched Papa Chango(PC) and David(pronounced Dah-Beed) knock out some hueso panels for the treehouse. I didn’t lift a finger, and they wouldn’t want it any differently. When the 20 foot extension ladder came into play, I pretended that I was afraid of heights. In the end, I did pitch in and help Lola with the sweeping.
I walked down to the beach around 6pm for a jump in the ocean and a sunset. I stopped by Rubys Mini-Super Tiendita, and picked up three Roma tomatoes, two white potatoes, a medium sized pack of rice, a pack of bread crumbs, a pack of Mexican Oreos,(my first bit of dessert since my arrival) and an ice cold Victoria. That cost me $3. The “boys” were gathered around the front of Rubys drinking cold beer and biding their time after work before having to go home to their families. PC(more on that wild beast later) made a nice bit of dinner, including a huge salad without the use of lettuce. I did half the dishes, and soaked the other half. It was a lazy ass day!
Hump day had PC and I back on the tennis court at 7:30am without tennis balls and without anybody else showing up. Nice way to start the day. I had no choice but to put up the ‘Gone Surfin’ sign.
Loaded myself up with sunscreen, made myself barefoot, grabbed my board, and did that 1.25 mile jaunt to the beach break. The surf had picked up. The lesson today was just a reminder lesson from all my previous lessons out here at MexPipe: Stay clear of the lip. This place unloads! It’s a fight that you won’t ever win.
I entered the water just as Will was paddling out with his 8’6 gun. He wasn’t going to surf it though. It wasn’t nearly big enough for Will. He was going to have a paddle to the La Punta and back in preparation for Todos. The water was very warm. I surfed “far bar” with my friend Mark from Bodega Bay. He’s a big blonde fisherman that rides a big board. I was stung several times by what is known as Malagua. It’s the oceans version of the “No-See-Em”. A jelly fish of sorts I suppose, although I never saw em‘.
I would have loved a bigger board out there today, but not quite ready to break it out just yet. The bigger the board, the less manipulation you have with it. Duck diving around here is imperative if you know what is good for you. Needless, I stayed out of harms way, although I had a few “Mother Mary” moments. Learned a lot. Had fun. Didn’t get hurt. End of story.
Ran home in the hot sun. On the way, I briefly stopped and watched in awe as some dude in Puma sweats and a Rasta beanie was sitting in the sand, juggling a soccer ball. Yes…he was sitting. His control with the ball was off the charts. After about a minute without letting it hit the sand, I shook my head in disbelief, gave him the whistle and the pointed finger, and carried on. Got back to the tree around 10:30am and did some writing.
At 2pm, bouncing from shade to shade, I ran down to the ocean with a swim fin in my hand. I had to run past a couple of Federalis with machetes & machine guns, but I knew the drill~Don’t look them in the eye, and Don‘t say a word. I darted across the scalding sand. It was my first time busting out my swim fin. Without a fin, it’s not wise to go past where you can touch sand bottom. With some fins, you can pull into big closeout barrels so long as you know how to brace yourself for the massive implosion. I relied on all my summer days as a youth logged at Newport’s Wedge & Victoria Beach, Laguna.(Shout out to Dev..Unome)
On my way back, I had a chat with a talkative 18y/o worker boy and a shy 12y/o worker kid, both digging a ditch, and both barefoot. My severely broken Spanish is good enough to tell them that although they could make more money in the States, that the $100 Timberland boots, the $8 lunch at Panda Express, and every other little fucking thing they would need to own, would put them right back to square one. Es seguro que hay mas dinero hacer en los Estados, pero todos las pinche cosas es muy caro. En el fin de semana, tu cartera es el mismo. Entiendes? They understood perfectly. All the kids are still very curious about life in the States.
I hung around the tree(pun) until about six. Ran back to the beach and did 30 minutes of ball work, this time in the high sand. Brutal! Lots of dogs starting to make their evening rounds. Observed the squid fisherman throwing weighted nets into the shore break. Took in the sunset and headed home. Ate like a king and then watched Obama’s State of the Union Address on [PC’s Mac]–I was waiting to say that. Started a new book called The Memory of Running.
The Mondays here ain’t so Manic. The roosters begin their morning around 5am, maybe 5:30 on Mondays. I began mine around 6:30 with a couple of cups of black coffee in an old glass jam jar. Utensils are minimal in the tree. It wasn’t going to be a surf day because it just wasn’t. Skipped breakfast. Instead, I grabbed the rock and headed barefoot down to the beach. I didn’t brush or floss, but plan to.
Here’s some proximity for all ya‘lls. From the spot where my dirt trail meets the beach sand, it’s about ½ of a mile to La Punta,(to my left) and just under 1 mile to the main Zicatela surf break.(to my right) About ½ mile past the surf break begins The Marinero, and beyond that, there are numerous aqua colored hideaway beaches that‘ll take your breath away. Con mi balon, my Ipod full of freshly added music, my Kaenon SR1 polarized sunglasses,(What up Biscuit?) all in their proper place, I headed right, towards the main surf beach break. http://www.puertoescondidoinfo.com/aerialmap.html
One thing I learned from last years trip is that a Gringo working the soccer ball will create instant intrigue, and receive considerably more admiration and respect than the surfing Gringo. Most of the people on the beach, if they’re not carrying their board to go surfing, are typically getting in their daily exercise. Old people, young people, Europeans, Mexicans, Yoga enthusiasts, Lifeguard crew, etc.. Dogs everywhere. Everybody is just doing their thing. My thing happens to be dribbling in and out of coconuts, doing 20 meter high-knee wind sprints, taking shots at random pieces of driftwood, playing keep away from the dogs, and spotting the occasional ‘give and go’ with the Mexican walking my way. We all know it’s their National pastime. What more do you need to know?
I got to main beach and saw my friend Lonnie Caruthers, and asked him if I could leave my three valuables with him under his giant umbrella while I jumped into the ocean. I put in my earplugs and had a 10 minute frolic fairly close to shore. It was 9:30am. It was glassy. It was waist to head high. Surfers were getting barreled left and right. Lonnie shoots photos just about every morning down on main beach. He’s a real pro. You can see his work at http://rpmsurfer.com. He keeps his photos stored in one of them Flickr thingies which you‘ll see on his homepage. It’s worth a look since you won’t be getting many actual surfing photos coming out of my camera.
I ran back with ball, dodging the shore break, avoiding the horseshit, and the occasional dead Blowfish, all the while maintaining my style and prowess with the rock. It’s a dripping wet passion. Got back to the tree around 10:30 and took my 10 second shower. I ate some cereal and prepared to do some writing. My internet was down. Work needed to be done, and I was up a tree without a connection. Pinche Armando!!
Hopped a Collectivo and headed to Deluxe Café. On the way, I ran into Will Dillon(pictured) whom I had met last year. I believe he is from North Carolina. He’s lived in Puerto Escondido for maybe eight years. He is in his early 30’s. He married a local, and has his third kid on the way. Will doesn’t make a lot of money. He isn’t that well known, or famous outside of Puerto. Been known to free dive up to 75 feet and spear huge fish. Doesn’t say too much. Will Dillon charges HUGE Puerto. I witnessed it first hand last March when nobody else would go out. The surfing world witnessed it when He, Greg Long, Jamie Sterling, Tim West et al. were going XXL in early July 2009. Lonnie told me that Will got invited to the Todos Santos Big-Wave Contest that I believe has its scheduled contest window in February 2010. That’s huge for Will. I gave him his due props. He’s pretty psyched about it.
I did my do while watching Federer easily handle Hewitt in the Aussie Open. I walked home around 2pm, which wasn’t by choice. I forgot to bring money, which meant I couldn’t even afford the 4 Peso(30 cents) Collectivo. It was hot. I was barefoot. This little Gringo jumped from shade to shade to shade to shade to shade….all the way home.
At 2:30pm, I accidentally took a monster 3.5 hour nap, which normally would have meant trouble. I pulled it off though. Sent some emails from Papa Changos Mac.(His Mac is connected, My Dell isn’t. Hmmmm) I finished reading my first book. Lit a mosquito coil in my room and let it do its work. Pondered about how little I actually did today. Stretched a bit. Drank water. Bout it. Ate a bowl of Bran cereal for dinner if you need to know. It was 11pm which made it way past my bedtime.