Introducing Irene Burgstrom (Ch. 6)

I woke up to the ticking sounds a sprinkler makes.  Outside of that new sound, it was dead silent.  No cars.  No dogs.  No roosters.  No Nada.  I was a little bit cold.  A fire would have been nice.  Maybe even worth the 200 pesos I saved by opting to not go with the fireplace.  I opened the curtains.  The mountain top views were breathtaking.  Being in a cold environment was strange.  I took a long hot shower.  The funk of the tropics just flaked away.  My skin began to feel dry and tight right away.

I walked up an entirely different path of pink pavers, back over to the Administration Office where breakfast was being served from 7:30 until 11:30.  It was 7:31am on Christmas Morning.  There was nobody around.  The coffee was fresh and hot.  There was thickly sliced wheat bread and a toaster.  Jellies and Butter.   Fresh cut papaya.  Raisin Bran and Granola, both in clean plastic bins.  Box milk chilling in ice.  Feliz Navidad!

The Breakfast Buffet set me back 30 pesos.  I made them wish it was 300.  I took a couple of bananas for the road, and for good measure of course.  I desperately needed lip balm and skin lotion.  Lip balm and skin lotion are two items you only think you need in the tropics.  Two items you badly need at altitude.  I set out on a walk.

Once again, I had heard all about SJDP and knew that it was known for its Psychedelic Mushrooms.  Hongos as they are known.  I had also heard that the only time to get these Hongos is in the summer months of June, July, August, and September.  During those months, a human being can buy a small handful of Hongos for $5, sit under a pine tree, and for five hours guaranteed, that human can hold some court with Mother Nature.

Before arriving here, I sort of pictured little leprechauns jumping out of the Wibbley Wobbley Forrest offering up their Vegetation to people like me.  Knowing what I know about Mexico, and having heard all the stories about what goes down in SJDP, I just figured anything were possible.  For the Record:  Pretty small odds that I was going to partake in this phenomenon.  However, I do reserve the right to suppose there could have been a scenario that would have found me partaking.  Again, an offering from a leprechaun or The Mad Hatter would have been tough to say no to.  But in all seriousness, I was just more curious than anything else.  Information is Knowledge.  Knowledge is Power.  It seemed like pretty unique and powerful information, and I kind of owed it to myself to see what sort of human beings were behind such information.  Fair enough?

I started walking uphill.  The steep concrete streets were all scored.  Wooden Shacks never looked so good.  All of town seemed well groomed.  A far cry from the beach living that is Puerto Escondido.  The change was extra welcome.  It was sunny and began to warm up quickly.  I was in shoes and shorts.  Short sleeve shirt and socks.  I wore my famous black hoodie.

One of the most fascinating sights that kept me nice and tripped up was what was drying on the clothes lines.  There weren’t any sheets, or tanks, or bathing suits that are so subliminally a part of tropical life.  Instead there were blankets, wool jumpsuits, jeans, socks, and the like.  Even saw some beautiful wool rugs drying on the line.  I didn’t see too many people.  I kept remembering it was Christmas.  I kept forgetting it was Christmas too.  I forget which.

I stopped for a breather at a gigantic covered basketball court.  The court was painted green with perfectly manicured lines.  Three rows of cement grandstands all the way around.  Two middle aged women jogged around the court in their sweat suits.  That seemed odd.  If you knew where I was, you’d but have to agree.  I was curious if they knew anything about these so-called Hongos?  Imagine that.  Even after receiving the disappointing vibe from the young indian barista, and the vague information from the groundskeeper at my hotel, I still wondered if two middle aged women jogging around a painted basketball court at 11 in the morning, knew anything about Magic Mushrooms.  Neither of them looked like Dorothy or Alice.  It didn’t feel like Oz or Wonderland.  They were just two middle aged women jogging around a painted, covered, full sized basketball court at 9000 feet.  With nobody around.  I’d a paid full retail for a basketball to magically appear.

I followed a painted sign towards a hunch.  There were a couple forks along the way.  I rubbed my chin both times, and steered left in both cases.  I was getting close to something special.  I heard music.  It sounded like Tom Petty.  I looked inside one shack and saw four or so young, Euro looking backpackers huddling around a big blue pot being stirred by an Indian lady.  She had braids.  She wore vintage Indian garments.  Again, I felt tripped out.  I felt  a bit out of place too.  My ears were popping, and I kept forgetting where I was.  I knew I wasn’t at the beach.  I knew I was in the Sierras, but it felt a long way from the Sierra Nevadas.  I felt way far away.  All of a sudden, I began to feel as though anything were possible.  It would not have surprised me if I was dreaming and just didn’t know it.  Nothing seemed ordinary.  It was Noon on Xmas.

I spotted a white dude with short hair making tea on his wooden balcony.  He most definitely was on some kind of drug.  You can ask nobody.  I approached him cautiously.  Turns out he was a real cool cat.  Texan.  Mellow.  Extra Mellow actually.  I figured he was drinking mushroom tea, but I figured wrong.  He told me Hongos are sparse this time of year, but that some clever fellows are able to keep them preserved in honey.  He asked me if I wanted him to ask Don Memo on their availability.  Sure why not?  I glanced over at another cabaña.  There was a red and white stocking hanging on the door knob.  It was stuffed with all sorts of gifts.  The gold glitter on the white part of the stocking spelled Aron.  That is Mexican for Aaron, and somebody knew it.

Don Memo appeared out of thin air.  He wore a pressed, red, long sleeve shirt, blue jeans w/ a silver mushroom buckle, and cowboy boots.  He had a shovel in his left hand.  Like most Mexicans, he had a real thin mustache, and smelled like Chanel #4.  Kind of like The Maestro. He said he could get me some Hongos in Honey by 6pm, but recommended I not take them until the next morning.  And on an empty stomach.  He quoted me 250 pesos.  I graciously declined his offer, and he vanished into thin air.

I took another glance down at the wooden cabaña with the Christmas Stocking that appeared to have my Mexican name on it.  My new friend from Texas showed me his Opium that he was making, or curing, or fostering, or harboring, or building.  I wasn’t sure what the fuck he was doing with it.  He offered some up.  I politely declined that too.  I asked him if he knew who was staying in that cabaña.  I pointed to the one with the Aron stocking.  “Oh her?  She’s new to camp.  That’s Irene, but we all call her The Warden”, he said.

I was like….The Warden?

The sun was shining.  The air was magnificent.  The sky was true blue.  The only thing I could hear was the song Martha My Dear waining from The Warden’s Cabaña.  I took off my Hoodie and wrapped it around my waist.  I re-remembered that I was still wearing my brown Sgt. Peppers Tee Shirt.  It felt wonderful to be here.  Certainly a thrill.   I took a seat in the pine needles and just admired the natural beauty.  It didn’t feel anything like being in Mexico, despite feeling as though I was dead in Her heart.  Scratchy was right.  Getting out of Dodge was just the perfect cure for all things nutty going down in Puerto.  The high mountains provided a ton of relief.  I laid my head back and took a little siesta.

What had seemed like a two hour nap was really just two minutes.  Full on Reverse Rumpelstiltskin.  The sun was still shining because it was only two minutes later.  I stood up and stretched.  I could still hear The White Album coming out from the bottom cabaña.  I was having a real moment in life.  I could either stay or I could go.  If I stayed, it would have been because I followed my gut down to the cabaña with the Aron Stocking and The Beatles Music.  If I went, it would have been because I’m a pathetic loser with writer’s block and ghetto duck feet.

Like Costanza on his way out to sea to remove the golf ball that Kramer hit into the blow hole of the whale, I walked down the dirt path to The Mystery Cabaña.  When I got close, I smelled Nag Champa.  Bueno.  I took a closer look at The Stocking.  Like I had thought, it was full, and the presents were neatly wrapped as well.  Here went nothin’.  I knocked on the heavy duty wooden door.

A young lady came to the door.  She was barefoot.  She wore dark blue GoddessWear™ Bottoms, a tight little top of some sort, and a white, knitted beanie.  I put out my hand and said, “Hola, me llamo Aron, and I do believe that is my stocking.

HolaAron.  I hope you are the right Aaron.  You are the fifth Erin to come by here today claiming The Stocking.  I am getting a little tired of having to re-wrap the presents.

She watched as I began opening the gifts one by one.  I first pulled out a giant, plastic, candy cane shaped tube, stuffed with Mini Reese’s Cups.  Bueno.  Then there was the full sized, copper wire scalp scratcher.  That’s weird.  Then there was the Miracle Bubbles and the Loofa Pad.  OK.  Towards the bottom I found a HackySack and some Hybrid Swim Goggles.  Getting closer.  And finally, hiding out in the toe section of The Stocking, I found a book of matches from Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero California.  I turned to The Warden and said, “Either I’ve been sent here to meet you, or you’ve been sent here to meet me, but either way, I do believe that you are my Girl.

She put her hand out and said, “I’m Irene Burgstrom.”  We shook hands.  I was like, Did your grandparents own a Children’s Clothing Store in Tustin California in the late 70’s, early 80’s?   “Different Bergstrom,” she said.  I told her that The Goddesswear made her ass look Extra scrumptious, but that Goddesswear can just about make any woman’s ass look Fairly scrumptious.  She didn’t understand what I meant to mean.  It was just my way of sabotaging another relationship with the truth.  It never works.  I’m such an idiot!

I began feeling tired.  I took a seat on her balcony and closed my eyes.  When I re-opened my eyes, in what seemed like a two minute dog nap, turned out to be two whole hours.  Trippy!  It was now 4pm on Christmas Day Afternoon.  It was getting cold.  I put on my black Hoodie and asked Irene if she wanted to meet for dinner at dark.  She said Yes.  We agreed to meet at the Cafe/Internet Spot at 7pm, and take it from there.  During my nap, she had gathered all my opened presents and neatly tucked them all back away in The Stocking.  I couldn’t wait to get back to my room and devour the Reese’s.