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Paseo de Beso

If it weren’t for the fact that to get to Paseo de Beso in Bucerias you have to steel yourself for the rigorous assault of the flea market, where I’m always tempted to wear a sandwich board around my neck that says, “NO, GRACIAS, I DON’T WANT MY NAME WRITTEN ON A GRAIN OF RICE NOR DO I WANT TO BUY A SOMBRERO,” I’d come by more often.

I like this little Alley of the Kiss. And since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I thought it seemed appropriate to visit. What I was hoping to do was snap a pic of some young lovers making out against one of the beso murals, and while there were, indeed, several couples who giggled and then smooched while leaning against the wall, taking their picture—or at least trying to—seemed a little too voyeuristic.

So I gave up on that idea and just took a couple of shots of my favorite murals. I like this El Beso del Amor, with the strange shape of the man’s head and the fact that he’s holding a hammer while she’s got a bunch of calla lilies in her hand.

Isn’t the calla lily a symbol of rebirth? So he’s got a hammer that symbolizes, what? Building something? For the future? (Let’s hope it’s that and not, “You’d better kiss me or I’m going to smash your face with this hammer.”) And she’s got a flower symbolizing rebirth. So maybe the fact that it’s a middle-aged couple means that this is a second romance for them and with their love they are building a new future together, being reborn.

I’m sorry. That’s the best I can do with that.

But my favorite beso mural is one of a young, unattractive girl at what looks to be her First Communion, El Beso de la Paloma—The Kiss of the Dove. The dove, of course, is Jesus. So when she receives the host for the first time, she will be wedded to Jesus. So sad. But looking at her (and those big ears), don’t you just see a nunnery in her future?

Anyway, kisses and love to all today on this, my last day in Mexico–at least for a few months. Next week it’s on to Waikiki. In search of aloha.

Until then, aloha. And adios

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Oysters being sold on the beach. Photo by David Lansing.

Beautiful morning out. Gorgeous. Blue skies, sunny, warm. Maybe I’ll go for a walk along the beach. Or for a swim. A little exercise would do me good.

Except…except…well, I’m suddenly feeling a little queasy. Nothing major. Just an unsettled stomach. Skip the coffee this morning. Maybe have something healthy like a fruit smoothie. With yogurt. Settle things down.

Cool. Refreshing. Big glass. Orange juice, frozen strawberries, some of those little Mexican bananas, and peach yogurt. That’s lovely, isn’t it?

Except…except…now I think I’m going to ralph. Maybe just crawl back in bed and snooze until it passes. Nothing major, I’m sure. It’s not at all like that time in Bordeaux when I had very rare pigeon and my body proceeded to do an unauthorized cleanse, top to bottom, for two days. God, that was dreadful. Probably shouldn’t think about that. Not right now. Because, ohchrist….

There, that’s better. Get it out of the system. Whatever it is. Some of the strawberries were still frozen. Odd, that. You don’t suppose it’s those beach oysters I had, do you? Couldn’t be. That was, what, a week ago? Do nasty things in oysters stay in your body only to make a nasty appearance a week later? Shouldn’t think so. Still. What else could it be? What did I have for dinner last night? Oh, yes, the stuffed chile poblano at Aduato’s. With a salad. Could have been the salad. Or the chile. Or whatever was stuffed in to the chile. Shrimp, was it? Not oysters, certainly. Anyway, just get back into bed, take a little nap, and when I wake up in an hour or so, I’m sure it will all have passed.


Well, that was nasty. Always worse the second time around. Odd the body can even contort itself like that. Need to get back in there and clean up the floor a bit. Attract flies otherwise. After I get my strength back. Climb in to bed. Turn on the overhead fan. Close my eyes. And try not to think of beach oysters.


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Tacos on the windshield

Me cleaning taco sauce off the windshield of the Blue Whale. Photo by David Lansing.

I dropped Jeff off at the airport today. As I was driving back to Bucerias, I thought about the last time Jeff was down here and I somehow convinced him to do a roadtrip with me from Puerto Vallarta to Los Angeles. What I remember is that the night before we left, Jeff suddenly came down with an intestinal problem and he wasn’t able to eat the carne asada we’d ordered at a restaurant in Bucerias. Not wanting to waste it, he’d asked the waiter to wrap it up in aluminum foil.

The next day, we stop to get gas before heading off into the jungle. While I’m paying for the gas, Jeff gets the foil-wrapped steak tacos from dinner and puts them on the windshield, held down by the wipers.

Me: What the hell are you doing?

Jeff: Heating up my tacos. It’s a hundred degrees outside. They’ll be warm by the time we get to Mazatlan.

Me: The windshield wipers aren’t going to hold them! Those babies will go flying off in two minutes.

Jeff: They’ll be fine. Just go slow.

So off we went through the jungle. With two big aluminum foil packets of tacos underneath the windshield wipers. At one point the tacos de parabrisas started to creep up the windshield but I found that if I kept my speed around 40-45, they were okay. Although some of the sauce leaked, making salsa rivulets down the hood of the Blue Whale.

Just before we got to Mazatlan, Jeff hopped out and grabbed the tacos. They were a little soggy but heated through. We had them with a couple of orange Fantas we bought at an Oxxo.

The next morning when we gassed up before leaving Mazatlan, Jeff went into the quickie mart and got two $.69 hot dogs. He stuck them under the windshield wipers where they stayed as we crossed the Sonoran desert. I think this may become a regular thing with him.

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Turtles and a sunset in Custodio

The sun sets over Custodio in Mexico. Photo by David Lansing.

Jeff and I planned to drive up to Custodio mid-day to visit the Fletchers but by the time we actually got out of Bucerias the day was almost gone. We took the stone steps down to the water’s edge and crossed the estuary in waist-high water to Playa Tortugas. At the turtle preserve, they were preparing to release a thousand or so baby turtles. We watched as one of the workers dug deep holes in the sand looking for any turtle eggs that hadn’t hatched yet. The man in charge said they would release the turtles about half an hour before sunset and we could help, if we wanted, but we would have to pay. The amount of money he wanted wasn’t a lot, but the request irritated Chris. He has happily donated hundreds of dollars to the turtle facility and I think he was annoyed that now he was being asked to chip in more just to watch them release the turtles tonight.

The three of us—Chris, Malin, and I—have done the turtle release several times and none of us were really interested in waiting around for another half hour to watch it again, so instead, we walked further down the beach, passing by several dead fish washed up just beyond the tide line that were being slowly picked at by vultures. The vultures didn’t seem particularly hungry. One or two would rip a gash in the stomachs of the fish and pull out the guts to eat but there was no feeding frenzy going on. It was all very civilized, considering they were vultures.

By the time we got back to the estuary, the sun was very low in the sky. The tide was a little higher and it was more difficult crossing over. If the water got above your waist, it would pull you out towards the ocean or inwards towards the estuary, depending on which current you were in. Blue crabs, the size of abalone shells, skittered about at our feet. Every once in awhile you’d nick one and you could feel their pincers lashing out.

When we got back to Casa del Mar, there was just barely enough time to shower off the salt water and make a pitcher of margaritas. We sat out under the palapa, all of us rather quiet, watching the sun as it dropped like an orange balloon into the ocean. The day was done.

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Jeff prepares to get back in the water in Sayulita. Photo by David Lansing.

Jeff is not a happy camper these days. As he says, he’s dealing with a number of “severe issues.” Jeff is a private man so I’m not going to go into what, exactly, those issues are, but trust me, you wouldn’t want to be dealing with any of them. Figuring that what Jeff needed was to get away from his own dark clouds, I invited him to join me in Mexico. He thought about it for awhile and then told me the plane fares were too expensive and, anyway, he was just too busy. Dealing with his life. I told him I’d find him a cheap plane fare, which I did, and convinced him that the best way to deal with all the crap at home was to flee to Mexico. Eventually he agreed.

I figured a guy in his position needed a little break in his life where he didn’t have to make any decisions. So I told him that once he got to Puerto Vallarta, I’d take care of everything else, including being there to greet him the minute he made it through Customs. Which turned out to be a little more challenging than I expected when, the night before he arrived, the Blue Whale broke down on me. I was hoping to get the Blue Whale taken care of before I had to leave for the airport, but this is Mexico and you never know. I had visions of him standing in front of the Puerto Vallarta airport in the heat and humidity, lamenting the fact he’d let me talk him in to coming down here. But, fortunately, I got the Blue Whale fixed an hour or so before Jeff’s arrival and had plenty of time to get to the airport.

When we got back to my place in Bucerias, I asked him what he felt like doing. “Drinking a margarita,” he said. “And then drinking another one.”

I could see how this was going to go.

Jeff is an old Southern California surfer, so the next morning I suggested we head for Sayulita where maybe he could rent a surf board. That sounded just fine to him. We packed some beers in a cooler and set up our beach chairs next to the rental chairs in front of Don Pedro’s. Now here’s a funny thing about Jeff: Despite the fact that he’s a surfer, he doesn’t really like the water. Any water. For instance, the afternoon before, we took our margaritas down to the pool and I jumped in, the cool water feeling good against my hot, sweaty skin, and waited for Jeff to get in as well. Which he never did. He didn’t even dip his toes in the water. And it was hot. Like almost 90. I asked him how come he didn’t get in the water and he said, without even looking at me, “I’m just fine where I am.”

So here we are at the beach in Sayulita and, again, it’s hot and humid. I’ve gone into the surf a couple of times but Jeff, the old surfer, hasn’t budged from his chair in hours. This is not a good sign. “Listen,” I say, “why don’t you go rent a surfboard? That shop next to Don Pedro’s is pretty good.”

Jeff doesn’t even bother responding. He just stares out at the breakers along the beach. After awhile, I go back in the water for another swim. I float on my back, beyond the breakers, watching the frigate birds circling overhead. When I swim back in, there’s a woman sitting in my beach chair next to Jeff. She’s got red hair and is wearing a bikini and has some sort of beaded amulet wrapped around her right ankle. She starts to jump up out of my chair when she sees me approaching but I tell her to sit back down.

The woman’s name is Gisselle. She’s a hairdresser back home in Vancouver but she also has a house down here in Sayulita where, in addition to doing the hair of women for weddings, she also teaches pilates. She’s trim and attractive and wearing a bikini. Jeff is smiling as he talks with her, which is something I haven’t seen for awhile. After awhile, Gisselle goes back to her spot on the beach not far from us, turning around every once in awhile to give Jeff a friendly smile. He smiles back. “I think I’ll go check out those surfboards,” he says after a bit. A few minutes later he’s walking down the beach, past Gisselle, a surf board tucked under his arm. Before getting in the water, he turns one last time and gives a little wave to Gisselle. She gives a little wave back. And then he throws himself on to his board and plunges into the surf. The boy is back.

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