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

All in a Days Work

Well, after a cup of coffee and some fresh pan, I put on my one pair of long pants, shoes & socks, a shirt, and walked the single path through the jungle to the other end of La Alejandria. It’s a piece of land known to those as El Paraiso. I was walking to work. I opened my mouth one too many times about my abilities in the field that somebody finally told me to put my money where my mouth was. Who said anything about money?

With a catch, as so many of my promises seem to be these days, I promised to work for seventy five cents per hour. The catch was that I could only promise one hour a day. If they got more than an hour out of me, I told them they were the winners. I thought seventy five cents per hour was a pretty decent wage considering I was ready to work for free.

Once I found the boys, and trust me it wasn’t easy, I immediately knew it was going to be my kind of work. Sketchy ladder work that takes a desperate kind of balance and balls that can only come from experience. Because remember, there are only two ways to set up a ladder. Truth is, they didn’t really want me to work so much as they wanted to show me their work. Aw, how cute.

The views of the lagoon from the workplace were off all charts. We used man made ladders made from both aluminum and wood. Both seemed as sturdy as any Werner I’ve ever used. While on the site, I tried to show the boys a thing or two, but again, they weren’t really interested in my thing or two.  Toy Gringo!

Lupita suddenly appeared in Boy’s Town to tell me that Juan had called the restaurant looking for me and said he’d try back in fifteen minutes. Well that was my calling card to tell the boys Luego.

On our way back down along the path through the jungle, I asked Lupita if Juan mentioned anything about the nature of the phone call. She couldn’t understand what I was trying to ask. I tried to say never mind, but couldn’t make that understandable either.

At the restaurant I had myself a Coke. In a glass w/ ice. The real shit. Juan called and I took the call. He said he had $1200US and 2100MXN cash in his pocket. He suggested I get my ass over to Vivo Resorts immediately to collect it. He told me to bring “The Dawg”. I didn’t quite understand what he was talking about.

I don’t quite understand what you are talking about, I said.
Just get here ASAP, and you’re buying me lunch, he said.
Is this for that guy you told me about Rex? I asked.
No, Rex is separate.  This guy is named Brian, he answered.
Do I know this guy Brian? I asked.
You ask too many questions, he answered.
Whoa, I said.
Whoa is right, he said.

I walked back thru the jungle and up the path to where the boys were sitting in the shade counting screws. I told them that I was giving up my job for seventy five cents per hour so that could go collect $1,350 in about two hours. They started asking me 99 questions. I looked at my watch that I wasn’t wearing and said I had to go to the place with the person and check the thing.

It was just after 10am. There was cloud cover. There’s been lots of cloud cover this winter down here which I love. I told them that I would be back at 4pm to log another few hours.

I loaded my van with the goods. One paddle board, one paddle, one fin. I drove my van about two miles Southeast on Hwy 200. I turned off on a dirt road, and followed the power poles another two miles or so Northwest. I was headed to the one and only Vivo Resorts. A six star spread. I was going to see Juan the Lifeguard, have some lunch, fill my bathing suit pocket with cash. That sorta stuff.

I arrived at 11:30. I walked straight out to the beach where I was immediately handed cold hard. I gestured a 500 peso spot plus the lunch for brokering the deal. He accepted the 500 pesos and the lunch. We walked up to the Infinity Pool and Bar Area. He ordered the fish and chips. I got the chicken burrito.

Juan mentioned that there is a new chef, and the kitchen has been somewhat slowww. With that bit, I decided to go for a twenty minute run on the beach. Ten minutes each way. No people, no trash, no houses, no nothing. Deep in the Southern Mexican tropics. Stiff ocean breeze. Paradise.

I jumped in the ocean and then showered off up by the pool. Perfect timing! We sat out by the pool under a giant umbrella. I had an ice cold Corona out of the bottle with my lunch. He had a Coke in a glass w/ ice. With tip, the bill was a 220 pesos. WAY more money than I am used to doling out for food.  220 pesos?  Who has that kind of money to fork out $15 for lunch for only two people.  Not me!  I guess I do.

After lunch, I bodysurfed a bit out front.  I drove back to the lagoon around 1:30pm. I snuck in a little siesta in my cabana. I woke up around 2:30pm and went into the restaurant. I showed Lupita and Juanita how I make coffee at home. They pretended they were blown away. I got jacked up on bean.

I went back to see the boys at around 3pm. I made sure they knew I was back an hour earlier than I had promised. Despite there being sharp metal, rusty rebar, nails, broken tile and concrete, and other hazardous Gringo traps everywhere, I still decided to show back up to work in a bathing suit and flip flops. For me, it was too hot to dress any other way.

I told them I could give them a couple hard hours. I said I had an appointment with The Manialtepec Lagoon at 5pm. They told me that I talk too much. So without saying another word, and right at 5pm, I disappeared like a man on vacation. On my way back to my cabana I stopped in the restaurant and told Lupita I wanted Caldo de Camaron ready around 6:30pm.

I went for an hour paddle. Tropical Sunset, Birds, Iguanas, Crocodiles. You name it, I felt it.

I came back and took a cold outdoor shower. I went back into the restaurant with a clean bathing suit. Juanita had prepared my soup with fresh vegetables and about ten jumbo shrimps. As the soup cooled, I pulled each shrimp out and cleaned them on a separate plate. I put all the shrimp back in, washed my hands, added the chopped onion, avocado, and chiles, and went to town.

After dinner, I didn’t brush or floss, and read about five paragraphs words before passing out. It was 8pm.

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Unwilling & Abel

My friend Abel is single without kids. He was married once.  The majority of his so called friends are married W/ kids. Most of them, at some point or another, have announced to Abel that if they weren’t married W/ kids, or single W/ kids, or homosexual W/ kids, or whomever they are pretending to be W/ kids, that they would have SO much time to [fill in the blank].

No Seriously..if they just weren’t so fucking tied up with their wife or husband, and of course the lives of their spoiled children, they would have SO much free time that they wouldn’t even know what to do with themselves.

“Fuck Abel, if I was in your shoes, my life would be so much better.”

Ha. Abel is quick to point out that these people W/ kids wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they were in his shoes. And that’s because their day to day wouldn’t be so precisely laid out for them like it is now. Wake Up. Pat the Dog. Check the Market. Drink the Coffee. Kiss the Wife. Kiss the Kids. Work the Day. Support the kids in their Chosen After School Activity. Eat the Dinner. Drink the Beer. Kiss the Wife. Kiss the Kids. Pat the Dog, Listen to the Lies on the TV. Go to Sleep. Repeat the Day.

To Abel, that sort of lifestyle trap seems so easy that it’s almost sickening. In fact, 99 out of 100 people are doing it because it’s so fucking easy.

So to ruffle some feathers, Abel began telling all his little friends and family within his social circle that they are so far gone that if their lives were any other way, they actually wouldn’t know how to live. Take away their family and they would probably sit in the corner drinking their personal Kool-Aid while staring out to space.

Oh no, Abel is not done talking.  He then goes on to tell anybody that will listen that it takes way more passion, self esteem, thought, desire, and especially creativity, to lead HIS so-called life. By no means does Abel claim that he’s better or smarter or nicer or superior to his fellow man or woman. He just doesn’t have the benefit of having to go to a Little League game or a Birthday Play Date to fill his time. Instead, he finds other ways to productively keep on keeping on.

My boy Abel then says that any-old human can have kids and become completely emeshed in their kids’ lives. Don’t get Abel wrong though. He’d be the very first person to tell you that if things had been a little different here or a tad different there, he’d be one of those humans.

Please don’t shoot the messenger.

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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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