I Lost Myself in Mexico – Day 01
My stomach lurched as the little boat swayed and dipped into Ensanada’s choppy harbor. The turbulence of the sea was one thing, but the smell of salt water mixing with the city’s hurricane of curious scents–which I’d nearly forgotten during our four hours spent chasing invisible whales along the coastline–washed over and capsized my gut.
The captain, a short, perpetually grinning Mexicano, had assured us that this was the perfect season for spotting gray whales, but all we’d seen were diving pelicans as the crew sputtered us around the two small islands just outside of All Saints Bay. Regardless, the crew and my fellow tourists enjoyed themselves, drinking beers brought aboard in big coolers and laughing every time the front of the boat crashed down over a big wave. I sat mostly in silence, scanning the horizon for the great mammals I never got to see, acutely aware that I was turning forty next week and nobody on the boat gave a shit. Or anyone else in the world, for that matter.
We motored past a massive cruise ship docked in the harbor; it looked like a floating city, Norwegian Bliss painted proudly in black against the white hull, and each room along the side facing the sea had a little balcony. My eyes were drawn to each tiny square among the many levels, a window into so many lives. An old man enjoying a smoke and a cup of tea or coffee. A child shielding his eyes from the afternoon sun as he watched the seagulls squawk and flap aimlessly around the harbor. A beautiful woman, her breasts free and flapping like the wings of a bird…
My eyes did a doubletake and, sure enough, the supple, milky breasts were there slapping against the railing of one of the little balconies. The woman’s blonde hair was pulled back into a rough ponytail by the man behind her pounding her body against the balcony’s edge. My neck craned as we drifted by, nobody else on the boat seeming to notice the explicit act being carried out just above us.
I’m sure the couple was moaning and screaming each other’s names, but I couldn’t hear them over the sound of seagulls and the congested hum of our boat’s rickety engine.
When was the last time I’d had sex like that? Completely free and uncaring, letting the world know that I was young and alive… Had I ever? Hell, when was the last time I had sex?
Was there ever a time when I was young and invincible? Yes. There were memories buried deep and forgotten in my mundane mind.
Sarah… Sarah and I had been like that once.
I played with the wedding band on my finger, reminiscing on the times in college when we couldn’t seem to keep our hands off one another. Time or place was of no concern when our bodies begged for the affection of flesh, and I recall feeling like we’d never stop loving each other with that intense fire of our youth.
So, what the hell happened?
The voice of the white man next to me pulled me from my thoughts, cheap cerveza hot on his breath. “We’re back, buddy.”
Somehow, I hadn’t even noticed the captain merge our vessel with the dock with the efficiency of someone so damn good at their job that they can do it just as well after five beers. With care, I removed my orange lifevest, shuffled down the ladder, off the side of the boat, and down the dock, the woman’s perky breasts still bouncing in my mind.
The whale watchers parted unceremoniously, splitting off into their groups and heading for the various sea-side bars and restaurants. I stood alone for a moment, taking deep breaths to knock back the nausea. A few promoters were already surrounding me, shoving plastic menus in my face and rattling off words that I couldn’t understand.
I waved off the vultures, looking for whoever was shouting my name.
“Richard! Right here!” Suddenly, his arms were around my back, nearly knocking me off my feet with his muscular frame. “See any belugas out there?”
I shrugged him off of me. “No, actually. I think they scammed me. Though, Wikipedia does say that gray whales inhabit the pacific coastline even this far down.”
The man in front of me was tanned, scruffy, and smiling, his dark curls dangling playfully over his forehead. Junior may be my only real friend. We’d known each other since we were kids, and as we grew older we became polar opposites. Junior was an adventurer; he hadn’t gone to college, opting to travel the world and do work through various organizations that tended to put him in dangerous situations in the name of helping others. Even without a plan, he always seemed to land exactly where he wanted to–or maybe he just didn’t care where he landed–and he did it with a careless smile on his face. I went to college, got married, and stayed with the first company that hired me after graduation. My life was secure, stable, and safe, all things Junior scoffed at.
But we’d always stayed friends, and I attribute that to his incredibly kind nature.
“I told you you weren’t gonna see any whale tail out there, Rich,” Junior Ankara escort said, slapping me on the back and leading me towards one of the bars. “You would have been better off enjoying the afternoon with us. It’s my trip, you know? You could spend some of it with me.”
A group of cheery men greeted us with applause as we crossed the threshold of the bar’s open wall facing the docks. They were all Junior’s friends–great adventurers like himself–all there in Mexico for his bachelor party. I think Junior invited me because he pitied me… I appreciated it.
After much resistance, I finally caved and did a shot of tequila with the half-a-dozen world citizens. It burned as it slid down my throat, and I coughed until Junior handed me a sort of lime and water mixture as the bartender yipped and laughed at me. It was my first day in Mexico, and I was already feeling overwhelmed.
“Damn, Rich,” Junior laughed. “You’ve always been straight edge, but you used to be able to handle your liquor a little better than that.”
I gasped as the drink doused the flame in my throat, shaking the embers from my head. “I don’t really drink anymore. No time.”
“Ya, that sounds like you.” Junior passed a can of beer down to me, cracking it for me and lifting his own. “Thanks for coming, man. It means a lot. To Richard, my oldest friend!”
Everyone raised their drinks, happy to have an excuse to take a swig but not needing one. I’ll admit, it forced a smile out of me. Junior’s hazel eyes watched me intently, and he brushed some of his thick black curls out of his eyes before speaking in a low voice. “How are things, Rich? I know it’s been a while, but you seem far more boring than usual.”
That got a laugh out of me. Junior always knew how to break past my walls by just being brutally honest with me. I hadn’t talked to anyone about how I was feeling in… Shit… I couldn’t even remember the last time I vented to anyone.
My smile slowly faded, and I took another swig of the cold beer, waiting to speak until his friends had fallen back into their conversations. “Things aren’t going great, man. Sarah… I don’t know. We’re not in a good place.”
Junior scooted his stool closer to me, concern emphasizing the light wrinkles on his face. “Care to expand on that?”
I hesitated, but the alcohol was already loosening my lips. “I feel like we haven’t had a real conversation in years. It’s like, we just go through the motions every day without even thinking or communicating. Ever since…” My voice trailed off, and Junior understood that I didn’t want to talk about that again.
He took a slow, thoughtful swig of his beer, swallowing hard before blurting out, “And the sex?”
I choked on my brew, laughing and wiping my lips before shaking my head with a sigh. “You know what she told me when I was getting the time off for this trip? Take two weeks, I think we need some time apart. She just said it so… clinically… and walked out of the room.”
“Two weeks!? We’re only here for three days… And your birthday is next week!”
I hate to admit it, but Junior remembering my birthday nearly brought me to tears right there in the bar. Another gulp of beer helped me choke back my desire to weep.
“Not me. I’ve got the next fourteen days planned out,” I said proudly. “The perfect itinerary down and back up the Baja California peninsula.”
Junior leaned in, smiling. “Haven’t you ever gone somewhere without preplanning every minute of your stay?”
“God, no. That sounds like a nightmare.”
The bar erupted as one of Junior’s friends took some kind of specialty shot with a little worm at the bottom; I gagged while everyone else applauded.
“Fuck,” Junior said when the noise had died back down. “You and Sarah were always such a good team, Rich. It’s like you two just always had it figured out, even when we were just dumb kids.”
“Exactly. We were a team but maybe we were never anything more than that. Maybe we were just really good friends and that’s not enough anymore.”
“You’re not making me feel very confident heading into my first marriage, bud.”
I exhaled as more of the refreshing beer graced my lips, it was starting to taste a lot better. “No. You did it right, Junior. You lived. Hell, I couldn’t keep track of you in your twenties. You traveled the world, met new people, and became a wiser man than me in the process. You waited for the right one…”
“Sarah is the right one.” Junior put a hand on my shoulder. “You’re just going through a rough time. It happens. Maybe she’s right. Maybe the time apart will help you both clear your heads and remember what it’s like to miss each other.”
I finished my beer, eager to numb the pain that had followed me from home. “Let’s do another shot.”
“There we go! Let’s not think about our problems right now.” Junior called for more shorts to the glee of his party, and I found that the second one went down much easier. “While you Ankara escort bayan were out there chasing whales, we met a few local girls who invited us to a little gathering on the beach tonight.”
“Girls?” I choked. “But I’m married. You’re getting married! What would Vanessa think?”
“Jesus, Rich. You don’t have to screw any of em’!” Junior bellowed. “Just have some fun! Flirt. Learn a bit of the language. Take your own advice and live a little!”
He was right. I was spending my time regretting not having experienced enough in my youth while simultaneously rejecting the genuine experiences right in front of me. I lifted my empty glass, locking eyes with the bartender who was happy to serve a drunk gringo with cash.
“Another!” I cheered, surprised by the volume of my voice.
“Otra vez!” the bartender replied, waving his rag and lining up the glasses.
The third shot went down even smoother than the second.
After a few more drinks, we returned to our Airbnb just off the promenade, grabbing more tacos than we should have eaten, drinking some more, and carrying on until Junior looked at his phone and began herding us out the door. “They’re here!”
Outside, the sun was setting and something massive and multicolored was waiting for us in the street. It looked like a school bus that had been born of some psychedelic experience. The work of many different artists covered it from front to back, their various styles clashing and blending into harmonic rainbow chaos. There were animals, aliens, flags of various countries, and quite a few pot leafs tucked away here in there. I stood in awe as Junior was greeted by two attractive young women with mocha skin, but my eyes were drawn up towards the heavens, to the top level of the bus that had been retrofitted with seats and a railing. Leaning over the rail, smiling and laughing at the group of drunken gringos, was the most beautiful person I had ever seen.
Her long hair fell over the bus like flowing fire, a deep crimson that melted her caramel skin. She wore a simple white summer dress, and her perfect breasts flowed nearly as freely as her hair; as she leaned farther forward to get a better look at us, her nipples poke through the thin, nearly translucent fabric. Her face was alight with life, youthful energy that could keep you up all night and into the next afternoon.
Our eyes locked, and my hand lifted itself into an awkward wave as I stood frozen in the street. She laughed and whispered something to the girl next to her, and I felt a strange twitch between my legs.
“Rich!” Junior had been calling to me, barely able to break through the hypnosis the girl had put me under. “Let’s go, man! You can talk to her on the bus!”
Everyone had already boarded, and Junior was hanging out of the bus’s doors. I pulled myself together, taking one last look at her before climbing aboard. A young Mexicano was driving; he had dark brown hair down to his shoulders, a cigarette that didn’t smell like tobacco in his mouth, and calm eyes that made me feel welcomed aboard his vessel.
“Que tal, amigo?” he said as I climbed in.
“Uh, sorry,” I stuttered. “No hablas… I mean… Yo no hablo… Uh…”
The young guy laughed, taking a hit from his cigarette and pulling the lever that shut the doors with a horrendous grinding. “It’s all good, bro. I’m Alejandro. Welcome.” His accent was thick, but his English was perfect and easily delivered.
Just as I was about to introduce myself, the bus pulled off and I was thrown down the aisle, nearly losing my footing. My hands landed on a young woman’s shoulder, and she squealed something in Spanish while I apologized profusely. Everyone laughed, including her, so I went along with it and kept moving, chasing Junior to the back of the bus.
Inside, the bus was just as colorful as the exterior. Most of the old seats had been removed, surrendering the space to couches, a few twin mattresses, a little kitchen table against the left side with booths, and big cushions or bean bags that jumped off the floor when we hit a big dip. The bus’s speakers blared some of the funkiest music I’d ever heard, the sounds crackling through the aged sound system. Many of Junior’s friends were already mingling with the men and women downstairs, but I followed him as he made his way up the staircase in the very rear.
The wind ruffled my short blonde hair as we poked our heads into the twilight air. Up here, two rows of seats lined either side with a metal railing to keep anyone from flying over. Four girls were near the front, their long hair flying in the wind like flags, their lovely skin soaking up the last rays of the sun. We didn’t intrude on their good time, taking seats near the rear with two local guys who spoke decent English. Junior practiced his already proficient Spanish with them; I sat there and watched the girl with the red hair.
She seemed so at ease, so free and comfortable with her Escort Ankara body that it made me feel like my skin was a cage that had imprisoned my skeleton long ago. Sarah flashed through my mind, her youthful dancing under the light of the moon. I shook it away, staring out of the bus as the sun crashed into the ocean’s horizon.
“Why don’t you go talk to her?” Junior asked, his black curls dancing on his head as we rolled down a single-lane highway.
“Maybe when we get to the beach.”
He smiled, raising an eyebrow at me. “Always tomorrow, never today. Huh, Rich?”
“Shut up, Junior.”
Alejandro took the bus south down the coastline, veering off the highway when we reached the big cliffs of basalt that protruded out into the ocean. From there, we followed a dirt road until we road out onto a thin stretch of land–maybe a mile across–that was nothing more than a permanent sandbar. For a moment, I imagined Alejandro pulling a lever that encased the bus like a submarine so we could dive into the sea. Maybe then I’d see a whale?
“Is it safe to drive this thing out here?” I asked, holding onto the railing for dear life as the bus rocked over the rough, unpathed road.
Our two Mexican friends just shrugged and laughed, handing Junior and me another round of beers from their little cooler. Was everyone in this country this damn relaxed all the time?
“Um… Muchas gracias.” Spanish felt so awkward on my rigid tongue.
When the bus finally screeched to a halt, its engine puttering down for a much-needed nap, the four girls climbed over the railing and jumped onto the soft sands below. Junior followed, but I worried for my knees.
“I’ll take the stairs,” I said, joined by the men who’d given us the beers. “What if the bus gets stuck in the sand?”
Ah, of course.
Out on the beach, a ways away from the bus near the shoreline, Alejandro was stacking firewood with the help of some of the girls, a speaker had been brought out so the music never left, and Junior’s friends were already stripping down and heading for the water.
“Come on, Rich,” Junior called to me, ripping his shirt off. “Let’s take a dive before it gets too damn cold!”
I hadn’t planned on going in the water–neither on that night nor for the entire trip–but the alcohol was helping me make the choices I usually wouldn’t. Clumsily, I stripped down to just my boxers, eliciting whistles from Alejandro and a few of the girls.
Now, I’m not one to brag, but I do believe that it is appropriately factual to say that I have a pleasant-to-behold body for a middle-aged man. I’ve always stuck to a strict workout regiment, valuing fitness more than sleeping in most mornings, and disciplined cardio, light weight-lifting, and a healthy, balanced diet have kept me toned and in shape. Usually, I keep it to myself, but I was starving for the attention of that young woman.
I did my best not to look at her as I ran towards Junior and the crashing waves, but I prayed that she was watching me as I dove over the surf and into the water. She better have been watching, because the sea was frigid.
Our local friends all laughed as we quickly retreated from the tide, shivering and cursing and smiling as we huddled around the bonfire Alejandro had managed to get going with his funny cigarette. Night set in, and the party had just begun.
Junior, Alejandro, and I ended up lying on our backs near the surf, staring up at the stars as the two men talked to each other in Spanish. I was starting to pick up certain words, but nothing which would help me participate in the conversation. Still, I enjoyed listening to them go back and forth in the peppy, warm language, and I laughed genuinely when they did. The tip of my nose had gone slightly numb, and I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt so good. Alejandro sparked another cigarette, taking a puff before passing it to Junior, who in turn took a drag and held it out to me.
It gave off that same pungent, skunky aroma, and even though I’d never tried pot, I’d smelled it enough in college to know when people were smoking it.
“Ahhh…” I hesitated, not even sure how to smoke the damn thing. “I’ve never–“
Sand kicked up all around us as three of the girls crashed down. They were laughing, passing a beer amongst themselves, and speaking in that amazing language that just seemed to float off their tongues. My honey-skinned angel was among them, and she gracefully plucked the joint from Junior’s hands.
She let the smoke hang in front of her luscious lips before gulping it down and exhaling it through her nose. The light from the bonfire burned in her dark brown eyes, and I admired the myriad of gold and silver piercings gracing her ears.
“Quieres fumar?” she said, holding the weed out to me.
“I… uh…” Again, I found myself lost in translation. “Sorry, no hablo espanol.”
Everyone laughed–not at me, but with me–and the girl threw me a smile that made that tingling feeling in my nose run down my spine.
“Most of us speak English, you know?”
I was stunned. Her accent was barely noticeable; she spoke like an American.
She was still holding the burning joint out to me.
“I’ve never smoked weed before,” I said, embarrassed.