Back to Dunkin’..

I arrived at The Palazzo West right on time. Quinn was with.

I kept the van running. Classical Music was on the radio dial.

He approached my van and asked if I was waiting for someone.

I nodded my head yes and said that I was a close friend of Milo.

He handed me an Iphone5S box and vanished. I took a peek.

I told Quinn that we better get to a Dunkin’ Donuts Drive Thru.

America Runs on Dunkin’

I felt I was being followed.
Who wouldn’t? I had deep fucking pockets.

I used a Dunkin’ Donuts Drive Thru to off some paranoia. 
Small coffee, cream and sugar.

Cattle Calling

He handed me $300 in cash even though it wasn’t going to cost anywhere near that amount. I was given a white piece of paper. In my handwriting, with one of those old skool Bic Pens where you can make the ink, black, blue, red, or green, i began writing down exactly what was dictated to me. I chose to go with Green.

He wanted me to download and utilize all sorts of different map apps and such to make these errands considerably more efficient, but I just kept telling him to dictate. I was in Las Vegas, Nevada. I sat on a white metal bench under a tree. It was a Monday morning in early November. The sun was brilliant. The wind was outrageous.

He had more important things to do, and I didn’t. This was going to be a test of sorts. He trusted me like a good friend should, but I still needed to be tested regardless. I know all about baby steps. After some brief instruction as to how to operate his Cadillac SUV, I backed out of his driveway, and was on my way. I left my Quinnie behind.

He figured this list of errands was going to take me round about two hours. I had created a map in my head even though I knew it was going to be near impossible to pull it all off as efficiently as I could if I were in my home town. I was in a strange place, doing strange things, and I knew that strange events and sets of circumstances where likely to surface.

My first stop was the UPS store. I walked in and said that I needed Express Envelopes. The lady asked how many I needed. I told her five. She handed me five. I asked her how much? She said they are free. I walked out.

My second stop was the FedEx store. I walked in and said that I needed Express Envelopes. The lady asked how many I needed. I told her ten. She said she only can give me five. I asked her how much. She said they were free. I walked out.

My third stop was to have his car washed in the Korean Strip Mall. I was told that it might be tricky to find. I was told how much it would cost. I was told how much to tip. I found it without too much trouble, and slowly pulled the car up to four Mexicans who in 15 minutes had the entire car spit shined inside and out.

My fourth stop was to gas up The Caddy. 91 octane.

My fifth stop was a Verizon outlet. My boss needed a charger for one of his five phones. Since I was running well ahead of time, I decided to take the time to switch my own personal service back to Verizon. It was one year ago to this very day that I had agreed to switch over to AT&T.  I was hoping the switch back could provide some cosmic rebooting.

My sixth and final stop took place in a liquor store where I bough two, 32oz Smart Waters. One for me and one for my boss. He told me they would come in handy at 5pm Yoga.

By noon I was finished with my errands. I got back to the house, put $204 change on the coffee table. He looked at his watch, smiled, and said, “That was fast, thank you very much. You passed the test. Why don’t you go shower and shave, I will reheat the pizza, and then we can discuss where you are going next. It’s gonna get real.  And bro, no lolly gagging, time is critical..”

Poseidon Adventure

Juanita and Mary were at church. I slumbered into the restaurant. Lupita knew what that meant, but asked anyway.

I took my coffee down to my vacation hammock. I wondered why Juan hadn’t arrived. It was 7:45am. Birds were everywhere.

At 8am sharp a car pulled in. At 8:01 Lupita appeared at my vacation hammock and said the people were here to do a SUP tour. She didn’t actually say exactly that because she doesn’t speak any English. She said the word Tabla, which in and of itself, can mean a lot of things. Yet I had taught someone else that it very well could mean SUP board, and she told two friends, and so on, and so on.

So I knew what she meant. But more importantly, I knew what it appeared to be meaning for me. But why wasn’t Juan here I kept thinking?? He just told me the other day that he would be out to the lagoon on Sunday morning to lead a couple of couples on a tour. I thought for a second that something might have happened to Juan. Perhaps Juan was involved in a wreck. Gads.

So I get up out of my vacation hammock and walk over to people that I presumed were from Canada. “You must be here for the SUP tour?”. We are. From Canada? That too. I told them I am NOT the guy they are looking for, but I would make a phone call to see possibly what happened to the guy they are.

Bueno.
Where the fuck are you guy?
Everybody cancelled.
No, a couple of Canadians are waiting here at La Alejandria.
Really? The other couple cancelled, so I just figured….
Oh is that what you figured?
I will be there in 25 minutes.
Oh so they are just gonna wait here for you?
Well do you want to take them out? It’s easy money
Fine. You owe me. Click.

I told the kind folks that the other people cancelled and Juan thought that meant that everybody had cancelled, and that there are no dramas whatsoever because I would be their guide. They didn’t seem to care one way or another.

I unloaded their boards and such from the bodega, and set them up on the water’s edge. I put on sunscreen. It was 8:20am. I fit them with their adjustable paddles, gave them eight seconds worth of useless instruction, and said let’s go have a good time.

The water was dead glass. Rick and Paula I’m guessing were in their early 60’s. Both were on “Dawgs”–Boards designed for just about anybody to be able to stand up on. Consequently, Rick was up and paddling before I even had a chance to tell him or them how to go from being on ones knees to actually standing up. Paula on the other hand…not so much.

Huh. I had to remind myself that I was their guide, and this was their(her) first time EVER doing this sort of activity. I mustered up some empathy and chimed in a bit. Take your time lady. Try when you feel comfortable. Keep your eyes on the horizon. First your right leg. Then your other leg. Look straight ahead. Relax. You got this! No rush. You’re doing great Paula.

So she’s on her knees, and every thirty seconds or so she tries to stand up. I’m behind her thinking Good Grief Batman! But to her credit, she kept trying and trying. A for effort lady.

She finally revealed an excuse, and I found it to be completely legit. I SHOULD have uncovered this vital piece of information prior to ASSuming that they(she) would pick it up like most people seem to do. Her excuse? She said that she wasn’t sure if she would be able to stand up because she had recently broken both her feet.

At the same time?
No, different times.
Yikes lady, that sounds brutal. Hmmm.
Yeah, it’s a bummer.
Are you in pain all the time?
Yes and No.
Well take it easy, I said.

But she kept trying. And I kept watching her try. It wasn’t pretty. I began thinking that there just wasn’t going to be a way for her to find the strength and flexibility to go from her knees to her feet. And if you need to know the truth, her busted up feet were only part of the problem. The other problem? She was probably 100 pounds overweight. Yeah, she was a big woman.

So after watching her try to go from her knees to her feet for about 20 minutes off and on, I determined, as the lead guide, that it was going to be impossible for her to create that motion. Hey Lady, I don’t think this is going to work, but I do have a good idea. Follow me.

We all paddled to a section of the lagoon that I knew about that had sort of a swampy-esque beach sort of area. A little section I discovered where the mangroves part, and a sandy bottom has created a beach if you will. I call it Vulture Beach because at night, it is littered with Vultures. Littered.

So we get to Vulture Beach. I explain to Paula how we are going to get her standing up. I ask Rick for some assistance. Yada Yada, it wasn’t easy, but next thing we knew, Paula is standing up on The Dawg. Paddle in Hand. Mission Accomplished.

So we paddle, and paddle, and paddle. It’s now about 9am. The lagoon is still dead glass. We are on the other side of the lagoon near some of my favorite mangroves. Toodling and Toodling. I tried to stay in the zone and not think about what I kept thinking about, which was get me the hell out of this stupid mess.

We keep toodling, and paddling. Pretty slow going. Lots of birds. La La La. By now I just knew that Paula’s feet had to have been falling asleep. Most beginners do have that problem, and the remedy is always to go to the knees for a rest or a stretch. Or perhaps go for a swim. Or sit on your tush. You know, break it all up.

But Paula couldn’t do that because if she went back to her knees, she knew as well as I knew, there was going to be no way she could get back up. All of a sudden I hear a HUGE THUMP. That was no pelican I thought. I turn around, and Paula is in the drink. Oh No. Good Grief. I knew this was gonna be a heavy situation.

I immediately get in the water to offer comfort, and get her to smile. The water was very warm which was a big help. She held onto her board, and I held on to her board. Rick was smart. He let me do all the talking, calming, figuring, and refiguring. Paula still had her hat on. She was wearing a tank top over her bathing suit. Now a wet tank top.

The Dawg is twelve feet long, 35 inches wide, and 5 3/4 inches thick. I knew the width and the thickness were going to wreak a bit of havoc in trying to get Paula back on the board. It’s not like a raft. It’s not like a surfboard. It’s more like a CruiseShip. I knew this lady was going to have a hell of a time pulling herself up. She couldn’t touch the bottom, but even if she could use the bottom for a push off, much of the bottom of Manialtepec Lagoon is barnacle. Pushing off of barnacle is no bueno. I certainly didn’t want to add blood to the scene.

So again, it was real tough for her to pull herself onto this board. These boards stay extremely buoyant, and she didn’t have the strength. Remember, she was a heavy set woman. Her breasts alone must have weighed 35 kilos. But I kept her calm. And I tried to remain calm myself.

Thankfully, she wasn’t upset or anything. She just kept trying and trying and trying to pull herself up on the board. Pretty determined lady. Think about it. 60 year old lady. Broken feet. Knee AND shoulder issues too I come to find out. 100 pounds overweight. In a blackwater lagoon. A half mile from shore. Bad idea. Shoulda had her sign a waiver.

The ordeal had me thinking about the Poseiden Adventure scene where Shelley Winters volunteers to swim underwater and ends up dead. I began to conjure up my alibi. I punch out Rick and drown him too. Throw both bodies to the Alligators. That was simple.

But alas, I figured it out. It involved Rick pushing and yanking on his wife’s ass and thighs, and me keeping two boards together, as well as lending a hand where needed. Lastly, and most impotantly, Paula had to have faith.

After twenty minutes worth of solid effort, and trust me, you could see the perspiration on her face, she finally pulled herself back on her board. It was totally fucking nuts!! It was now 9:30am. It was beginning to get hot. The wind had picked up, and my board and paddle had drifted about 200 meters away. I pointed them in the right direction, and told her it might be best to stay on her tush. I swam to retrieve my board.

Back at shore, I stayed clear.  I let them eat breakfast together outside. I figured they needed the time alone to argue. I was pretty hammered myself, so I wolfed down my omelette by my lonesome in the restaurant. After breakfast, and with another black cup coffee in my hand, I walked outside, thanked Paula and Rick for a wonderful experience, and disappeared into my cabana.

The End

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.”

IMG_7860

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.

 IMG_7976

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.

@ Uninsured Motorists

I was sitting at a cyber station in Chila. Chila is between Puerto Escondido and The Manialtepec Lagoon. All my energy was being used up trying to figure out how to type the @ symbol so that I could check my emails. Shift Two I could now do in my sleep. Alt Sixty Four on the other hand, had my goat.

Some eight year old knew what I was trying to ask, and she stepped in and helped a brother out. Not even the cyber station granny knew what I was trying to ask. She just sat there emotionless while I said, “pues normalmente pongo Shift y dos a recibir la senal @,(i make an @ sign air drawing) entiendes?”

That’s when i heard the big crash. I looked outside, and a truck had backed into my brand new Moto. And Down Goes Moto. I rushed outside to make sure I could stop the driver before he sped off. We made eye contact. He motioned that he was going to pull off to the side. He got out of his truck and started overwhelming me extra fast southern spanish. I didn’t even recognize a word. Not even one. Here we fucking go again..

Surprisingly, the bike didn’t suffer too much damage. At least not that I could see. A couple of broken reflectors. A few scuffs here and there. Make no mistake, it’s not like he made it look better either.  It definitely was not a big deal.

I thought to myself that if the roles were reversed, I would be reaching DEEP into my bathing suit so that he wouldn’t call the authorities and have me thrown in jail. So of course I thought about telling him to bone up and give me 20 bucks and I would let it slide.

But he didn’t have a shirt. He didn’t have shoes. He seemed to be apologetic. It now seemed like he also had a few people in his corner. A few of them started chiming in a little too.

Well my thirty seconds were now up, so I looked him in the eye, put out my right hand, and told him not to worry about a thing. His eyes got huge. He smiled. He thanked me. He said he lived right there, and pointed. He said to come by his house anytime for tamales.

IMG_7968   IMG_7978

Hello Goodbye

How can I ever forget Monday Night, October 27th, 2014.  I specifically remember waiting until dark before I made my decision official. It went like this: Had my partner come to me by the time the sun went down, there stood a strong chance that I could have been talked into staying.  Sun went down. No partner. I got real busy.

My partner lived right around the corner. I knew that energy and vibes had their way of traveling in this neck, so I turned off all the lights in and around my apartment. In addition, I detached the lights inside my van so that I could leave all the doors open without a light coming on.  So yeah, I had decided to work in the dark. Stealth, I know.

I made the decision to leave Puerto. Not only leave puerto, but sorta sneak out of Puerto. Probably for good.  Sorta not what I had in mind for myself, but in the same breathe, I was in desperate need of doing what I had to do.

I began the packing up process. Man o Man.

You see, my partner began standing on legs he didn’t have. Legs he wanted, not had. Huge difference.  At least to me. He had no legs to stand on because money talks and bullshit walks. That’s the part he didn’t get. Unfortunately for him, I did. So when bullshit started talking, money went walking. As gutted as I felt sneaking away at night so that I wouldn’t get caught by the man who had no legs to stand on, and as heartbroken as I was over the decision I made to have chosen the wrong business partner, and as frightened and as alone as I was at even one element of repercussion, I did feel entitled to do whatever the fuck I wanted to do.

So that’s what I did.

Pollo Fresco

We approached La Frontera. One false lane could have meant an hour or two’s worth of headaches and figure eights. I remember coming to a complete stop on Hwy 95 in order to read all the signs. Thankfully it was a quiet morning. One of us spotted the word Declare, and that was a sure sign. We swooped over. It was there where we caught a first glimpse of our opponents.

If I was allowed to talk, and I wasn’t, I would have asked my partner why there weren’t any dogs on the scene. No not the kind of dogs that play fetch, or need a home, or do stupid pet tricks. More like the sharp eared breed that can bring a man to his knees. The breed that thinks dog whispering is a secret worth telling.

But to my surprise..no dogs. Not one.  Just layers upon layers of official and unofficial authority.

We stopped at an orange cone. A young man in a black uniform approached the cone, removed it, and pointed us to a parking space in the shade. We both got out.

Although he could barely walk, my partner went to work. In his Spanish, not to be confused with anybody else’s Spanish, I heard him use words like casasombra, and barbacoa. The man with the gun only seemed to have his eyes on what we thought he would have his eyes on. I sat on the long metal table trying to remain cool.

The moment of truth. My partner asked me for the piece of paper. I pulled out my book of receipts and began fumbling through it. The crucial piece of paper wasn’t there. My partner hovered over me. I couldn’t find it. He continued to hover over me, and much like a ventriloquist, he began calling me an idiot, a blow it, and everything in between.

I couldn’t believe it had come to this. I had one fucking job to do, and I couldn’t even do it. I was frozen. I found the doctored piece of paper that declared our stuff to be worth a ton, and immediately shuffled that away. Then I found the piece of paper that declared our stuff to be worth what we actually paid for our stuff, and immediately crumpled that piece up too. All eight cameras were on me. Under his breath, my partner continued calling me a complete jackass. It was bad.

We were moments away from either A, being humiliated and turned away at the border, or B, paying a boat load of tax. My partner explained to the Authority that I was an idiot. He muttered something like I was in an accident and something struck my head. I was dripping sweat. I continued to fumble through my paperwork.

But then I found it. Yessir! It was where I had put it all along. Blowing It!!  My partner yanked it out of my hand, handed it to the Authority, and apologized profusely for the misunderstanding. The man with the assault rifle looked over the piece of paper as he referenced what was on top of the 2002 Ford E250.

You mean to tell me that each board only cost $39 US?
We’re professionals. We get these boards at below cost.
Well why do you need nine?
We break boards all the time. We need backup.
It says right here that you should have ten?
That’s because we already broke one in California.
Is your friend a professional too?
Believe it or not, he’s one of the best around.
Where are you guys going?
We are competing in contests up and down the coast.
Where is the first contest?
En Zicatela!
Whoa, The Mexican Pipeline.
Exacto Senor!
 
 

It all went down in Deadpan Spanish, and my partner filleted it. We were asked to pay a token import tax, and that’s about all that I should tell you. I can tell you in private when you come visit.

Well it was now time to register and import the vehicle itself, as well as renew our personal visas. For that due process, we had to loop under, over, then around the bridge that crossed the Rio Grande.

I looked at him. He looked at me. I asked him how long he was going to hold this one over my head. He said forever.