… and I am Somebody male. in my thirties. recovering alcoholic. live in minneapolis. work in progress. gay. serenity please.

Things You Just Don’t See at Home

05.20.2011 · Posted in Travel

So many grown men in such tiny little bathing suits.

Guy riding a moped at top speed down a busy street with ragged clothes, lurched over with a hunchback, a pink bag tied up and hanging from his clenched teeth, and a plastic crate bunjee-corded to the back of the bicycle holding a tea-cup Chihuahua peering over the edge in apparent horror. If the dog had opposable thumbs, it’d be holding on for dear life.

Beautiful sunsets.

Banderas Bay Sunset

Banderas Bay Sunset

Street artists balancing boulders on the shore for tips.

Street artist balancing boulders for tips on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta

Street artist balancing boulders for tips on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta

The last few days have been spent in my usual routine. Breakfast at CoCo’s Kitchen followed by time at Dee’s and the magical Americanos they serve. A run around noon, followed up by a visit to Acqua for a workout. Then comes nap time or the beach, a meeting, dinner, and generally back at the hotel and in bed by 11:00.

I’ve actually enjoyed getting into running here. I’ve now been able to run nearly 2 miles without a break – a first for me! I hope I can keep it up upon my return home.

The other day at Dee’s the middle-aged man with the heavy tan and multiple tattoos was around again. Again, he would butt into people’s conversations unsolicited. This time he struck up a conversation with one of the tourists and revealed a bit more about himself. Turns out he’s a doctor. Or at least that’s what he purports. He performs “laser surgery” for a multitude of conditions. Much of his business is tattoo removal, but he’s been selling weight loss services as of late. My interest was peaked – how does he use a laser for weight loss?

He went on. The treatment involves using the laser in some fashion, a special massage technique, followed by the client drinking LOTS of water. Within months, he’s had 25 pounds melt away himself using the procedure.

What a charlatan! He lit a cigarette and went on to recommend the tourist only buy a certain brand of cigarettes while here in Mexico. A smoking doctor. SRSLY!

I had dinner with Angel on Wednesday night. He’s a sweetie who I met working at the Coffee Cup on Gomez last year. He’s since started a new job at a smaller, 60-room hotel in the Hotel Zone. It’s closer to his home and pays better. We ate at The Swedes, where Rikard was in, so we chatted a bit. Dinner was very good, as I’ve come to expect from them. Afterwards we walked down the Malceon to Roberto’s and enjoyed a couple of scoops of gelatin (and saw the rock balancer mentioned above). Wednesday is his day off, so I think we may get together again next week.

Last evening I met up with Adolpho for dinner. We went up to TASTE, the restaurant at Casa Cupula – a gay luxury resort billed as one of the top five gay hotels in the world by such and such magazine or website. It was very nice, but for the price, I would prefer to be closer to the beach and the buzz of the city, and not far away up on the hill where its situated.

A few nights back somebody referenced a lady in town who had really long fingernails. I didn’t think much of it at the time, and don’t even remember what context she was mentioned in. Low and behold, there are the restaurant, at the table next to us was seated four older white people – two men and two women. Halfway through the dinner I noticed the lady who kept looking over at me. She had fingernails at least two inches long!

I felt like I’d been dropped into a scene in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, discovering the urban myth of a lady in town with the long fingernails. It was really quite disgusting. I would sneak a peak at her on occasion and she would get food on her nails and lick them. After eating she used her nails to dig deep into her mouth to remove pieces of food – and then lick whatever she had dug up. This certainly belonged in a scene after the short man in the red room with the funny voice.

A Monday of Leisure

05.17.2011 · Posted in Travel

Chorizo and eggs at CoCo’s Kitchen by default. The food is excellent, the price is reasonable, and the service at this place is outstanding. My morning coffee intake has increased, as their constant refills encourage faster consumption. I’m a victim in all this.

Patio at Dee’s has some of the usual suspects returning now that the work week is here, though still no sight of Dee herself. The lesbians who run the chocolate shop next door are around, as is Donny – an ex-pat about my age who lives in town with his father and works at an interior decorating shop. There’s a new regular I haven’t figured out yet, but he arrives on a motorized scooter with shades on and no shoes. Natural tan and tattoos. Something made me think he was a yoga instructor – either various stretches he was doing, or something somebody said; I can’t recall. He is familiar to some of the shadier folks walking by – many of whom will stop for a moment and chat with him. He’s got a stoner’s laugh and I’m also wondering if he isn’t a local purveyor of illegal substances.

I’m working on a proposal for an exciting new project I was briefed on shortly before coming here. It’s an interesting data visualization application that could be very cool and it’s right up my alley. When I initially met with the client they seemed really impressed with my work. Had they not been conducting a formal RFP process, I would have guessed they’d just go ahead and award it to me, but alas, they didn’t. I should have the proposal finished up this week and then I turn it over to the universe for a response.

While working on the proposal I’m distracted, immensely, by the guy standing outside of the new health supplement store across Gomez. He’s a latin guy with his shirt off, and he is the perfect sales tool in this neighborhood. He’ll stand outside for a few minutes and then return inside. Back and forth for a few minutes at a time. Every time he steps outside my work is paused as I look at him while trying not to look like I’m looking at him. He’ll return into the store and I’ll return to my proposal, taking a moment to reacquaint myself to my stopping point – only to be interrupted again moments later. This goes on for a good hour and I realize that this proposal is going to take a lot longer to finish than I had anticipated.

Before departing Dees, Martin, the local massage company owner, stops in. I recognize him from the photo on his website. He’s lauded by everyone in town as the nicest and best guy to see. He actually smiles and flirts with me a bit, so maybe he’ll be a little surprised when I show up later.

En route back to the hotel for a change of clothes I stop in at the supplement store to see the pretty boy, but to my huge disappointment, there’s a lady with a short-cropped haircut, dyed blonde, and sensible shoes. You know the type.

Back at the hotel I meet Luis, whom I spoke with on the phone to make the reservation. He’s a charming guy. I had mistaken him for the owner, but he claims only a management position, saying he’d be in Ibiza if he were the owner. I can’t imagine this hotel generates that kind of income, but maybe I’m mistaken. As the TripAdvisor reviews had predicted, the accommodations are far from first class, but the staff is excellent.

Over the hill at Acqua, David is excited to see me. He’s a lot of fun. He wants to cut me a deal on the cost of the gym for the couple of weeks I’m here, but I insist on paying full price. They’re a small business and this is the slow season – I know they need the money. I ask him to train me for today and he agrees. I should have known better. I was sick for the previous two weeks at the gym and had only been once before my trip. Now it’s been nearly three weeks with nary a workout. Near death after the first 10 minutes I’m dripping buckets the remainder of the hour.

David makes me a shake and I head out, stopping in at Martin’s spa to make an appointment to come see him. He’s booked for the next couple hours which gives me the perfect opportunity for a shower and a nap, which I gladly indulge in before returning.

He greets me in the waiting area on my return and recognizes me from Dee’s. He’s a charming guy and invites me back to the room where the next hour is pure bliss. He uses some sort of essential oil on his hands and holds them near my nose to begin with – a tigerbalm-like scent that instantly opens my sinuses, creating a magical sensation. After finishing and getting dressed, he’s off on another appointment by the time I make it to the front counter for payment. Hopefully I will run into him again to thank him.

There’s only an hour before the AA meeting is scheduled to start, so I stop in at Cafe San Angelo for an iced tea, and I’m sad to say, a big chocolate muffin. It was the least-caloric snack they had in the place, so I justified the purchase. I just didn’t think I’d be able to hold out until dinner.

Cafe San Angelo sits on a corner of Olas Altus that seemingly provides endless entertainment. The owner of the cafe, a large man, stops by. He parks illegally right on Olas Altus. His windows down and Meatloaf is screaming “I would do anything for love … but I won’t do that … no, no, I won’t do that.” He steps out of his car and I have to do a double-take. Thinking at first glance that I saw Meatloaf himself, but upon second look I stand corrected.

CoCo the dog makes an appearance and I’m relieved to see he’s still living – surviving on the scraps shared by tourists on the sidewalk seating.

Apaches, a bar and grille next door, is packed as usual during happy hour with a good number of retired ‘mos hanging out on the patio with Martinis and beers. There are frequent outbursts of laughter, but you would have thought Lady GaGa herself had arrived when a truck full of life guards rounded the corner and drove by – the crowd erupted in applause, whistling and cheers. Good sportsmen that they are, the lifeguards all waved and smiled in return.

I make my way down Bassilo Badilo to the AA meeting. Tonight is packed – probably 30 people in attendance, and I recognize more faces. Bob, the former Nixon, Ford and Bush staffer is in attendance and Dudley is the trusted servant running the meeting. The format is a big book passage followed by open sharing. Dudley asks me to select a reading and I do so. I believe it was on page 134 or so, where it talks about those coming to AA asking themselves, are they now destined for a life of boredom, stupidity and glum? What is the solution? The book goes on to respond that yes, there is a solution here in AA where you will find a life and a fellowship that grows up around you. I share for a brief moment about how that’s been so true in my life. How my initial reason for attending AA was to stop drinking, but that was really just the beginning. My life has improved in so many ways and I have received more gifts today than I could have imagined seven years ago.

At the break I meet a couple of Canadian ladies behind me and Josiah, a boyfriend of one, tells me he grew up just north of Minneapolis. Small world, as this is the second Minnesotan I’ve met in a meeting in as many days.

Returning after the break, a lady named Diane shared something about how she once lived in Minnesota, too, but it was too cold to get sober there – she had to go to Arizona, she joked. Getting more serious though, she said something that’s stuck in my head until today. She said, “You don’t get sober by coming to these meetings and sitting in a chair through Assmosis. You get sober by working the steps.” I laughed – hadn’t heard that one before. I will have to use it!

Five of us went to Cafe Bohemia for dinner afterwards. Diane, a retired journalist who had lived all over Canada. Frank, visiting from San Francisco. Bob, the retired federal staffer, Dudley and myself.

Bob tells us how he considers himself a Recovering Republican and tells us a story about Dick Cheney. Turns out Bob’s cardiologist is the same cardiologist who works with Cheney. Bob tells the doc, “If you can help Cheney, and he has no heart, you should be able to do wonders with me!” We all get a laugh.

Cafe Bohemia is actually quite busy tonight and they’ve understaffed. The service is slow, so by the time we finish our meal, two hours have elapsed and it’s now 9:30. I decide to make an early night of it and head home where I’m in bed by 10:30.

The Same, but Different

05.15.2011 · Posted in Travel

Sunday morning I sleep in a bit, making my way downstairs around 9:30. I head down to the beach and find that the old Bite Me Beach Club has re-opened, after having been closed during last year’s visit. This is exciting because they served excellent food and the setting on the beach is excellent. Now called Lido, I find it’s been opened by Michele – the French guy with the two well-behaved Jack Russel’s and a restaurant aptly named, ‘Michele’, up the street. The menu is unimpressive. Just a few basic items… eggs, any way you like, omelette any way you like, etc. Deciding how I want my eggs in the morning is the last thing I want to have to decide – I want options presented for me to select from! I skim the remainder of the menu and zero in on granola, fruit and yogurt and my mind is made up. The serving size is appropriate, though the Americano is served in an espresso-sized mug – so small you have to extend your pinky finger to grab a hold of it. I sense a stop at Dee’s in the very near future.

There’s a man sitting alone across the patio with two dogs that I can only describe as lab-sized Westies. They’re energetic and happy, though frustrated with their leashes as they try to grab the pigeons taunting them beyond reach.

There’s a group of four older gentlemen as well. A fifth joins them and asks the single man about his dogs, “Are they boys?”

“Yes.”

“I keep seeing dogs here in Vallarta, and they’re all boys! I’ve been looking and I cannot find a girl dog here!”

One of the group of four he’s joining asks him, “And why, exactly, are you seeking a female dog?”

They all chuckle. I settle up with the check and depart.

Little things about Mexico are coming back to me. Cultural nuances that I hadn’t thought about over the last year. For instance, you have to ask for your check in Mexico – they never bring it to your table without being asked for it. Also, if you cross paths with a lady on the street, you’re not to take the right-side of the path, you’re to take the side closest to the curb.

Dee’s is up next, where I get a real-sized Americano. I spend a little time there sending out invoices. I could get used to sending out invoices from Mexico.

Dee is absent again and I wonder if she’s just taken the weekend off, or if she’s out of town. I haven’t seen the lesbians who run the chocolate store next door, either.

Ernesto, the drunken time-share selling cutie I met last year passes by. One of the older gentlemen sitting near me stops him and says hello. The exchange is odd. From where I sit, it seems like the older man is trying to show off Ernesto to the two he’s sitting with. Ernesto is uncomfortable and wants to continue on his way, which he does, only stopping briefly. It seems likely Ernesto is still spending time with the company of older men who are happy to buy him drinks for his company. They probably don’t realize they’re killing him. He may not know it either.

I head back to the hotel and change into my running shoes. The gym is closed on Sundays and I have been trying to get into running – buying the Nike sensor and heart monitor that tracks your runs.

I huff it up the stairs next to The Swedes. They’re steep and go straight up the mountain to the highway. I continue along the highway, running up the mountain. I don’t realize it until later when I plug the heart rate monitor into my computer, but I run nearly two miles up the hill. That’s a lot for me!

I circle back down to the beach and make my way north, stopping in at Blue Chairs to survey the crowd. I stop and chat for a bit with Adolfo and his friends Ronald and Chino, whom I met at Sama last night.

I make my way back to the hotel and shower. Heading back out to La Polapa for lunch. Though I have a fabulous seared tuna steak with greens and potatoes, It’s my first exposure again to the pesky beach vendors trying to sell you plastic junk and offering hits off a marijuana pipe.

I get in a quick nap before the 6:30 AA meeting. There are about 20 people in attendance. One with 11 days sober and others with 30 years. I recognize only about 4 or 5 there – the rest are unknown to me. Turns out the guy with 11 days grew up in Southwest Minneapolis, near Lake Harriet, but lives here in Vallarta now. Small world.

Three of the guys and I head to the beach to watch the sun go down. It’s a beautiful night.

Sunset at Los Muertos Beach

Sunset at Los Muertos Beach

I take my leave and head to Cafe San Angel to grab a quick dinner and get in some blogging for the evening. On the way I passed the corner where the bookstore / coffeeshop used to be. It appears to be under renovations. Along Los Olas, I run into Dudley and his dog Sasha – the cutest little dog. And a girl dog, no less. She’s a mix between a Golden Retriever and a Chihuahua. She’s got the coat of a golden, but the size of the Chihuahua, making her look like a miniature Golden Retriever. She’s adorable, with a personality to match.

Sasha, the miniature Golden Retriever

Sasha, the miniature Golden Retriever

Making it to Cafe San Angel, I get a chicken wrap and begin blogging. At 10:30 the solo performer from last year is still hear. Guitar magic and an angel’s voice.

So while some storefronts have changed or disappeared, there are new venues as well. Some of the people are no longer here, but some are the same, and new faces have been added.

Back in Vallarta

05.15.2011 · Posted in Travel

I had a project cancelled and a bug in my ass to get outta town, so I’m back in Vallarta.

I tried the condo rental route again, but the trip was so last minute that I wasn’t able to find anything. After an hour or so of checking various hotel rates and tripadvisor reviews, I got a room at The Abbey for my stay. It’s a block off the beach in the Amapas neighborhood that I love. Actually, it’s right next door to CoCo’s Kitchen, my favorite breakfast hotspot! While the neighborhood is ideal, the accommodations are traditional old-town Vallarta. Read: run-down, marginally-working AC, semi-warm water and curtains that look as if they’ve seen 50 years of sun. I’m not all that picky, though. At least they’ve got wireless internet that works some of the time.

It was last July that I was here, and May seems to be a better time of year. While it’s upper 80s and humid, there’s no rain in the forecast for the next week.

My plane landed at noon and I was in the hotel by 1:00. I unpacked my things and went next door to CoCo’s. They were still serving breakfast and the moment of truth came. Do I indulge in the cinnamon roll French toast, or go the healthy route with a Mexican omelette. I actually didn’t buy any sweets at the airport, a treat I look forward to on vacation. I opt to continue the trend and stick with the omelette. Their food and service is impeccable, as per usual. I pay my tab and head toward’s Dee’s, passing Choco Banana, except Choco Banana is no longer there! It’s been transformed into a swankier-looking joint called Fuego, though Marcello is still manning the grill. He recognizes me but I’m certain he doesn’t remember my name. I nod and continue on to Dee’s.

The ladies at Dee’s are the same as well, but Dee herself isn’t around – and neither is her tempting coffee cake. Which is good, because I don’t know that I’d be able to control that urge. I get an Americano and take a seat, spending the next couple of hours finishing up some work. Later I head to Acqua, the gym over the hill with Aaron and David running the show. I love those guys, but I get there a few minutes too late, finding that they closed at 4:00 on Saturdays.

Back at the hotel I lay down for a nap, as I only got in three hours before my flight in the morning. I sleep for a couple of hours, through the 6:30 AA meeting, and get up for dinner at The Swedes. I had exchanged messages with Rickard, one of ‘the Swedes’ and he said he was in town. Unfortunately he’s not in when I get there. While I had stuck with the Swedish Meatballs during my last trip, I decided to venture outside my comfort zone. I get an Apple Cinnamon salad that’s fabulous, followed by pork medallions and potatoes. I am impressed – these Swedes know what they’re doing. I get only the sorbet for dessert, even though chocolate cake is offered. I wonder to myself where I’m getting the strength to do this, but I figure I’ll see how long I can keep it up.

I had down Los Olas towards all the music and lights, not even reaching the end of the block before I run into Adolfo on the sidewalk outside of a bar, Sama. Turns out he’s celebrating his birthday and the whole A-list Vallarta crowd is there. I recognize Victor from last year and a few other faces. I get reacquainted with the gang and spend the rest of the evening there before heading back around the corner to The Abbey, passing the open door at Garbo’s where the martini crowd is enjoying show tunes.

Afternoon of the Iguana

07.31.2010 · Posted in Travel

Vallarta Day 15 & 16

I drop off a last load of laundry on my way to Dee’s in the morning, where I get the breakfast bagel with my Grande Americana. Both Dee and one of the regular ex-pats make a comment about how my sunburn looks much better today. Dee goes on about how the Vichy product alters the genetic makeup of your skin cells or some such scientific technobabble. I have no doubt it helped, but I can’t be sure, since this burn wasn’t all that bad – it may have just gotten better on its own.

Some of the Kansas City guys were planning on meeting me at Dee’s so I could show them where the gym was, but I get an email from Garrett saying that they’re going to take advantage of the weather and enjoy the sun on the beach. He extends the invitation to join them, but I’m fearful that my sunburn is still a bit too fresh. That, and I’ve already had my piece of chocolate cake for Breakfast Dessert and need to burn it off at the gym!

I head over to the gym, taking the “secret shortcut” that Aaron told me about. Walking up the staircase next to The Swedes restaurant I hear something move on a step up ahead. I pause to see if I can find the source of the noise and there it is, three steps up – a GIANT iguana! Ok, maybe not giant, but probably 15 – 20 inches from head to tail. I pull out my iPhone and snap a photo of it. Then I step up a bit closer and it takes a leap off the edge of the staircase – a good 10 feet down onto a bed of rocks. I hear a solid thump and some more scurrying.

Anxious little fucker.

My heart has settled down a bit after initially being amped up upon seeing the monster. I continue up the stairs, over the hill and then down the second set of steps to the bottom of the hill. I’m about 30 feet into the second staircase when I see another one clinging to the wall of the staircase! It’s not moving, but it’s watching me. I pull out my iPhone again and begin to inch closer, but it’s watching me and sees me coming. It suddenly disappears, crawling into a drain pipe built into the wall. I approach the drain pipe, armed with my camera, and as I come into view of the pipe I can see the iguana’s tail inside. It’s not moving so I begin talking to him, “Come out, come out, Mister Iguana!”

Nothing.

I conclude that should the monster actually decide to come out, I’d likely scream and run. I decide not to find out if I can succeed it maddening it and carry on.

At the gym I tell Aaron of my encounter with the two iguanas and how these are the first iguanas I’ve ever seen outside of the zoo! He responds with simply, “Welcome to Vallarta – land of reptiles.” He goes on to tell me that he sees snakes and iguanas on that trail every day.

“EVERY DAY?! And you told me to take that path?!” I’m alarmed he never warned me of the trail’s hazards, but I figure he’s probably so accustomed to them that he didn’t think to mention it.

I make a mental note that I won’t be taking that trail for the remainder of my stay.

Aaron takes off I say goodbye and thank him for his hospitality. He invites me to dinner again in the evening, but I’ve got plans to go out with some folks from the Alano club.

Rikard, the owner of The Swedes stops into the gym and we chat a bit. I plan on asking the Alano crew to hit up his restaurant for dinner that night, but I can’t be sure I’ll get a consensus so I don’t mention it.

After finishing my workout, David makes me a shake and acts as if he’s crying and how he misses me already. I laugh at him for at least making the effort to look like he’ll miss me. He and Aaron have been a joy to see every day.

I stop by the laundry on my way home and pick it up. 55 pesos and it’s all folded nicely. I could really get used to this – now if they only delivered…

I shower, read a little and take a nap, getting up in time to make the AA meeting. On my way over to the club I stop in at The Coffee Cup and say good bye to Angel. He’s such a sweetie. We chat a bit and I give him a hug.

While at The Coffee Cup I see Jose – the cute vodka-loving timeshare sales guy, walk by with an older gringo. The last couple of times I’ve seen him has been at one of the bars on Olas Altus in the company of older drunken fellows. I suspect he won’t stop into the rooms of AA for some time … or at least until his looks begin to fail him.

The meeting is really nice. A lady, D, received her 3 year medallion and told her story. There were some really unique parts of her story, and she shared very genuinely and openly. She and her husband are new residents in Vallarta and new to the club, but they’ve been very welcoming to me and seem to have adjusted quickly.

Bob isn’t at the meeting, but Art, Dudley and myself head over to The Swede with a new guy, David, in tow. David is actually a part-time resident of Vallarta and known to the club, but new to me. He’s a nice enough fellow, but spends much of his time during the dinner texting his lover back in Vancouver who’s been recently diagnosed with MS.

Dinner is wonderful. I ordered the meatballs again and enjoyed them just as much as the first time. Rikard and the staff are wonderful hosts. Its so nice to eat at these small restaurants and be greeted by the owners and the people who actually make the food.

After dinner I head home and make it an early night. I encounter the whiny prostitute on my way home, but he’s learned to look the other way when I come by. I’m in bed and reading by 10:30 pm.

Day 16 begins back at Coco’s. I decide to treat myself to an order of her apple-cinnamon pancakes and they are just as wonderful as I remember them from 7 months prior. While enjoying my breakfast I watch the farmers’ market getting setup across the street. One of the lesbians who runs the chocolate store next to Dee’s seems to be directing traffic, parking, unloading and general ordering about of things while she looks a bit harried running around smoking a cigarette, pointing and yelling at everyone with her short spiky hair and glasses. I am a bit amused.

I stop in at Dee’s next and ask her to use her printer to print out my boarding passes. She says she doesn’t normally, but she makes an exception for me. I thank her and order an Americana and piece of Carrot Cake, deciding I can be doubly bad and reward myself ahead of time for the long day of travel awaiting me.

Boarding passes in hand, I head back home. I shower and pack everything up, saying goodbye to the small, poorly decorated condo at Brassia Del Mar – my home of the last two weeks. I hope I never see another pastel yellow, green or blue again.

I’m at the airport my normal two hours in advance, avoiding the anxiety-inducing rush I see as the alternative. Of course, this gives me time to write again and take in a little piece of Vallarta before I leave, as they offer massages here in the airport – right at your gate.

My major take-aways from my time in Guatemala and Vallarta:

1. Love more
2. Live simply
3. Lessen my consumerism

New Friends

07.30.2010 · Posted in Travel

Vallarta Day 14

It occurred to me the other day that I forgot to mark my Mayan Calendar birthday of July 24th with a special meditation or ritual of some sort. Damnit! I guess I’ll be stuck in the same cycle I’ve been on … but who knows, maybe that’s where I’m supposed to be anyhow.

I’m up and out the door by 8:30. I decide to be a little bad and stop at Choco Banana to get the banana pancakes from Marcello. Fewer mosquitos, though more flies than Coco’s, but those cakes are so hard to pass up! Marcello is his normal charming self, making a production out of the simplest tasks in an effort to make you laugh. He is nice, but he tries too hard. I just want the damned pancakes, already, Marcello!

Next stop is Dee’s, as per usual, for coffee and blogging. And a piece of carrot cake – but not until it’s time to leave for the gym, as I think of it as my own personal kind of energy drink to pump me up prior to my workout. That counts, right?

Dee’s is its normal self. Before blogging I attend to emails, which are growing in frequency, as if anticipating my return. I had planned on easing back into normal life back at home, but I’ve already been booked up for full-time contract work beginning Monday morning at 8:30, after returning on Saturday evening. It’s a good feeling to be wanted, and feels nice to know I’ll have some income, but I hope the abrupt jolt back to working life goes smoothly.

Here I am whining about being on vacation for so long and returning to work …. poor me. My life is sooo hard, if you only knew!

Speaking of returning to normal life, I’ve sneaked a peak at some of the headlines. It seems Lindsay Lohan monopolized them for a short while with her trip to jail. Though now the big thing seems to be the GLBT community’s backlash over Corporation X’s campaign contributions to the organization supporting Tom Emmer in Minnesota. Emmer is anti-GLBT rights and the GLBT community has called attention to this. Some calling for a boycott, some want Corporation X to fund a pro-GLBT candidate as well.

I’m not sure what I feel. I have several friends who work for Corporation X. I’ve done work for Corporation X and always had a good experience with them. I enjoy shopping at their stores. I recognize that they do a lot for the local Minneapolis / St. Paul community – both in community giving, but also in fostering the local creative talent. And this is all on top of their sponsorship of the Twin Cities Pride celebration and public pro-GLBT stance and policies. In short, they’ve given back to the community they’ve grown up in, and always been kind to us GLBT folks.

That’s why this campaign contribution is so strange. Certainly it makes sense from one point of view – they are a big business. Big business generally supports republican candidates because of their fiscal stance and support of laws that benefit big business.

It makes me wonder – has Corporation X only been pro-GLBT because it’s good for business, too?

Why give $150k to this organization / candidate? They must have foreseen some bad press around ANY campaign contribution, but especially a contribution to a right-winger who’s anti-GLBT rights – the same community that Corporation X has invested so much into developing.

The bad press could result in a loss of sales far beyond $150k. Of course, the contribution may get the candidate elected, which may help to keep and create laws benefiting big business, in which case their contribution may pay off much more in the end.

Aside from the societal and business ethics arguments around corporate campaign contributions, I’d love to see a cost-to-benefit analysis of Corporation X’s recent campaign contribution from their own point of view. Weigh the possible loss of sales due to bad PR against the potential savings Emmer may provide via tax and law benefits, should he be elected. Is it really worth it for Corporation X to do this?

I really WANT to side with Corporation X on this, but this practice of corporate giving to right-wing candidates is troubling to me.

Back to blogging at Dee’s on the patio, enjoying my Americana. My sunburn from yesterday’s time at the beach is readily apparent to anyone here. Dee makes mention of it and brings out some fabulous product she promises will dial-back the burn and take away the pain. I apply it and she seems happy to have helped. The burn wasn’t super bad to begin with, but I think the cream actually helps. Some product from a company called Vichy Laboratories. I googled them and found their site, but wasn’t able to find the same product Dee had for sun burn.

My burn is much better today. I’m sure I’ll be back to stark-white by a week’s time, as my skin is prone to do.

Nothing much new at Acqua. There are a handful of people working out again, which is nice to see. The two Sunset Party Cruise boys are there again and give me head nods, to which I return. Aaron and David are their usual, happy selves. I’ve translated my usual greeting of more than one person – “Hey, Ladies!” to “Hola, Chicas” and they object, wanting to correct my Spanish. I inform them I know very well what I said, and they object under different circumstances – this time more forcefully, aghast I would call them Chicas. I just smile and continue around the corner to drop off my bag in the locker room.

My workout is good and I get 20 minutes in on the elliptical afterwards, as both of the bikes I usually use were occupied by the Sunset Party Cruise guys.

I walk home and take a shower and a siesta, waking in time to make it to the 5:00 NA meeting at the Alano club to be there for Carlos’ 90 days. He shares about his clean time and it’s so genuine and authentic – very refreshing and nice to hear a newcomer working a solid program and seeing the benefits of it.

The meeting gets out and some of the AA meeting attendees arrive a bit early – and that’s when the shit hits the fan! Apparently one of the guys in the NA meeting had been banned from the clubhouse for stealing. He was caught by the police and the Alano club said they wouldn’t press charges if he stayed away. Apparently they’ve been constantly trying to keep him out – he just keeps coming back. It’s a bit of a contentious issue because there’s really no way to “kick somebody out” of AA or NA, yet at the same time this guy steals people’s belongings.

I stay out of it, but there are some highly raised voices between some of the NAers and AAers. This issue seems to go back a ways, and I am guessing there have been other disagreements in the past as well.

I stay for the start of the AA meeting, but have to leave early to attend a dinner at my friend Garrett’s place. I met Garrett through Facebook a long time ago and we’ve been social networking pals since. I recently joined TripIt, a social network for travelers, and was notified that Garrett was also taking a trip to Vallarta that overlapped with mine for a couple of days. He’s here with a dozen or so friends renting a floor at one of the beachside hotels – complete with chef service for two meals a day!

Garrett invites me to join them for the chef’s dinner. Three courses, ending with fish tacos, and it was delicious! Their room has a large open terrace area where we eat, and a pool of its own – it’s all very fancy! I spend some time chatting with them and get to know a couple of them a bit. They’re all from Kansas City. At least one pair was a couple, but I believe the rest were just friends.

They are all getting ready to go out to the bars and I take my leave. Dinner neglected dessert, so I stop in at Cafe San Angel for a piece of cake and coffee before heading home for the night. I fall asleep reading my Mayan Calendar ebook.

A Little Too Much Sun

07.29.2010 · Posted in Travel

Vallarta Day 13

I’m out the door to Dee’s by 8:30 this morning. As I walk in, one of the ladies is bringing out somebody’s breakfast – eggs and bacon. I can’t resist and order the same thing. I can’t remember the last strip of bacon I had, which actually isn’t a bad thing.

Aside from the local regulars, there’s a crew of about 10 – 12 people that have been gathering here in the mornings for the last couple of days. They remind me of the group I traveled here with over New Year’s. We would come here every morning and get coffee and some yummy baked goods. Often we’d head over to the Bite Me Beach Club for breakfast afterwards, but they’re not open during this visit – my guess is they don’t have enough business during the low season. I always liked that joint, though, so I hope they’re not down and out for good.

Before leaving Dee’s for the morning, I stop in the back to use the restroom and end up chatting with Dee for a while. She’s originally from Calgary, Alberta and moved here 9 years ago. She sold vacation packages for two years, averaging a 50% closing rate between herself and a partner. Then she got a new boss and decided to leave – which mirrors my own experience. After bumming it for a little while she decided to go into business for herself, also mirroring my own experience, opening the coffee shop here on Gomez.

I asked her if she had a hard time opening a business as a foreigner. None at all, she said. Between the day the landlord showed her the space and the day she opened up, only 18 days elapsed. She says that she does everything by the book, no funny accounting, and has an attorney and a lawyer to help her navigate the bureaucracy of obtaining licenses, permits, paying taxes, applying for this or that, etc., that trips up many business owners. She’s heard stories from other people having a hard time and guesses that doing everything by the book has paid off for her in this regard.

During her first year in business the way taxes are calculated changed seven times – within ONE year. I don’t ask for specifics, but damn – that does sound complicated.

Dee asks where I work out and I tell her about Acqua. She’s aware of the place, but says that most of her friends work out at Golds, up near the hotel zone. I tell her that Acqua recently expanded a bit and how their customer service is so great. After using the gym for a week and returning 7 months later to have them remember my name is pretty impressive. It’s the small-community feeling, too, like Cheers – everybody knows your name. That, and I like to support small and locally-owned businesses.

Plus, that whole bus system is a bit intimidating – with their antiquated 30 / 10 air conditioning. One of the expats from the Alano club explained to me that you get the bus going 30 mph down the road, and roll down 10 of the windows to get the air conditioning on.

I depart and head over to the gym. Aaron told me about an easier way to get to the gym using a staircase next to The Swede restaurant, taking you to the top of the hill. Then you walk a block down the street to the entrance to another staircase down the backside of the hill, which comes out just down the block from the gym. I take this route and am reminded of some of the path explorations I went on in San Marcos through the jungle. I’m not sure I would have ever discovered this path, though, as I assumed the staircase led up to an apartment building. That and I didn’t realize the geography placed the gym just over the hill. I’m directionally challenged.

Again the gym is busy today. I chat with David and Aaron for a bit. It seems their attempt to improve their reputation in the community is working. I hope this keeps up for them.

After lifting I usually ride the bike for 20 – 30 minutes and sweat off a few pounds. There is a guy on the bike next to me today. I introduce myself but we discover that neither of us speak the others’ language, though he does manage to tell me he works on the Sunset Party Cruise – a weekly run tour on Saturdays that cruises the bay with an all-you-can-drink bar.

The guy’s friend comes over and says hello. It looks like he works in a bar as well – dark circles under his eyes and a belly. I think back to when I was drinking. I would go to the gym in the early evening and then to the bar afterwards, then sleep and go to work the next day (if I was lucky), just to repeat the cycle again. It was an impossible feat for me – keeping in shape while drinking the way I was. Needless to say, going to the gym without drinking every day produces better results.

I finish up and head home, deciding to take the scenic route – my old path down Basilla Badilla. There are many more people to look at and shops to peer into. The path over the hill, while quick and quiet, is a bit boring.

It’s still early in the afternoon and sunny out, so I for the beach to catch some sun. Dee asked me earlier why I wasn’t brown yet, and I explain that I’m a bit paranoid about burning, so I’m liberal with the SPF 30.

I decide to try going sans sun block today and see what happens. I lay out for a short while and then retreat under the palapa with a fruit salad from Blue Chairs. The server is straight, but clearly has a lot of fun serving the gay guys who flirt with him. I complain a bit about the small size of my fruit salad and he jokes, “Look around – there’s plenty of fruit on this beach!”

A younger couple come and take up an umbrella near me. I think this is their first time on the beach, or at least in Vallarta. They order daiquiris from the bar and are amazed at the size when they come. Later one of the jewelry vendors on the beach comes by, being waved off by everyone, but the youngster stops him and begins trying on various bracelets, finally settling on two or three.

After this, you could have sworn the guy was, as my friend F is fond of saying, “A used tampon in a piranha pool.” All the various vendors swooped in, having discovered a naive american with a free-flowing wallet. He did purchase a few more items. The bad part of all this was that the vendors all came to bother me when they were through with their victim.

During this vendor charade, another couple came and sat down at the umbrella in front of me. These were clearly members of the “A Crowd Gays”. Expensive glasses and swimwear, tan, muscular and sculpted bodies. They smoked cigarettes and downed drinks like kool-aid. I can’t figure out how these guys have such great bodies while drinking and smoking like they do. They’re either very genetically gifted or they have help in the gym with some extra testosterone.

Having read another few chapters of my Mayan book, I decide I’ve had enough of the beach scenery and head back up the hill.

I shower and take a quick nap, getting up in time to head over to the Alano club, with time to spare to stop in at the Coffee Cup for a protein shake from Angel. He’s sitting outside the cafe when I come up the sidewalk. He greets me and we chat for a while. We’re becoming more friendly and he’s an adorably cute and sweet guy. I hope he finds somebody good. He makes me a shake, the ingredients from memory now, and I depart for the Alano club.

I arrive at the end of the NA meeting and run into Carlos, the newcomer. He’s got that pink-cloud thing going on with tons of gratitude and happiness for his newfound freedom. He’s working steps with a sponsor and seems to be on a good path. He tells me he is celebrating his 90 days clean tomorrow and asks if I’ll be at the meeting. I tell him yes, I’ll be there – wouldn’t miss it.

The AA meeting starts inside with Bob as the trusted servant. He announces it’s a speaker meeting format this evening, after which we open up for individual sharing, and introduces the speaker, H.

We all clap and welcome H to the front of the room. She’s very blonde, very tan, and speaks with a fast pace in a loud voice. She talks about AA saving her life, and giving her 24 years of continuous sobriety, but then goes on to tell the group that in Feb she used ecstasy. She didn’t know why she used it, she just did. She didn’t elaborate on what caused that one-time use, or whether she’d been lax with her program, or stopped going to meetings, or didn’t talk to a sponsor … none of that was mentioned, but I found myself wanting to know – what causes somebody with 24 years of sobriety to relapse?

I’m glad she’s back in the rooms and it was only one time, but that’s not the case with everyone. The biggest worry about somebody relapsing is not the one-time use, it’s that they may not be able to stop again, and go on for the rest of their life in drug or alcohol-induced misery. I want to learn from those that have this experience, so that hopefully I can avoid the pitfalls they fell victim to.

Next to me is A. She introduced herself to me early on and is quite the personality. She’s got twenty-some, maybe 30-some years of sobriety. One-on-one she’s quite charming and has lots to talk about. She was a reporter for the local English-print newspaper for 10 years until she suffered a stroke and retired. She’s a hard-core AA old-timer, the kind of person who holds the meetings and attendees up to the highest standards – her own.

I’ve learned in my own life, that when I hold certain standards for myself, I tend to think others should meet those same standards. Whether they’re good, bad or indifferent standards, I tend to judge people when they don’t meet them. My sponsor, or some other older AA’er pointed out to me that I’m probably too hard on myself, which translates into being too hard on others – so I continue to work on this. I’m a work in progress.

Anyhow, back to A. When somebody mentions an addiction other than alcohol, she visibly cringes. If they talk about a mental condition she sighs. If someone speaks out of turn or cross-talks she’ll gasp out loud and then reel it in. If somebody talks about exercise helping them in their recovery, or seeing a therapist, she’ll fidget in her seat and cross her legs in the opposite direction.

Some old-timers share A’s views. They want to keep the meetings focused solely on the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 steps. No outside issues, no room for talk of drug addiction, etc. These are the principles that have kept AA going for so long without disbanding completely.

Personally, I’m pretty liberal with the idea of recovery. I got sober going to both AA and NA meetings and consider myself an alcoholic and addict, though I believe they have the same meaning. Both groups utilize the 12 steps and the fellowships are very similar. So when somebody mentions something outside the confines of AA in an AA meeting, I’m inclined to let it slide. Usually.

But A, and many old-timers get upset by it. I think it’s fine that they have these beliefs and express them, I even find some of the chair-twitching antics a bit amusing. I just hope they keep coming back :-)

After the meeting, Art, Bob and myself go to Maxamilian’s for dinner. They’re running a special menu featuring some Greek dishes at a heavily discounted price. Art opts for one of the special dishes, but Bob and I each select a fish from the standard menu. All of our dishes are very good and we enjoy desserts afterwards as well.

The dinner conversation is always a hoot with these two. Between them they’ve got about 75 years sobriety, and all of the stories that come along with that. As I’ve mentioned before, they’re both talkers, too. En route to the restaurant, Bob ran across somebody he hadn’t seen in a while and stopped to talk to them. Art starts to tell me that he’s been called a gabber, but that he pales in comparison to Bob.

I laugh, as I’ve noticed they’re both gabbers and tell him I think they’re both roughly the same. I point out that I watch at the dinner table, as each of them waits for the other to pause in a sentence to take a breath and will jump into the conversation. I compare it to fencing, just waiting for the opponent to let their guard down and reveal a vulnerability, lurching forward with their sword. Art was hoping for some sympathy, but gets a kick out of my analysis nonetheless.

Heading home, it’s barely sprinkling. The second no-rain evening in a row. Arriving home, I disrobe and go to the bathroom, flicking on the light to discover I should have used the SPF 30 today.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

07.28.2010 · Posted in Travel

Vallarta Day 12

I venture out of the rental around 10:00 AM and head directly to Dee’s. I feel like I’m starting to get a bit lazy, as I’m sleeping in later. All-day coffee intake is likely the culprit, as I got up 4 times to use the bathroom during the night – a personal record.

I can also feel myself getting antsy to return home. I try not to think about “real life” and enjoy my time away, but with each “real world” email I read I hunger for more news to consume. I begin reading my google feed reader to catch up on the news and checking Facebook for the latest happenings.

So here I sit, at Dee’s checking Facebook.

I pound out my shortest blog entry to date. I didn’t set out to write a shorter entry, it just turned out that way – perhaps, in part, because my days are becoming more uneventful as my trip winds down.

After Dee’s I make way for Acqua and get in my workout. Again there are a new few faces there, so I’m happy the business seems to be doing well. David is out of Bananas and makes a big deal out of needing to run to the market when I ask for a shake. I tell him it’s okay – I can get a shake elsewhere, but he runs out the door anyhow, exaggerating my request, as if I’m the neediest customer he’s ever had. Aaron and I discuss where to go for dinner and he quizzes me on what kind of food I like. My only request is that they have something healthy. He has to think about it and tells me he’ll email me later.

Heading home I run into Jerry on the street. He’s the one who stopped me on my first day in Vallarta, yelling out from across the street, “I like your shorts!” and then urging me to come over. As it turns out, he’s selling timeshares and the compliment was simply a ploy. I notice him today because he’s yelling across the street at somebody, “I like your hat! Where did you get it?” He’s a genius sales person – great initial hook with a bounding personality that’ll talk you into anything.

Though I see him several times a day, he seems to have given up on me. He’ll smile and wave, but he knows I’m not interested in what he’s selling. It almost seems like a game among the various storefronts this operation runs. If its a new guy working, or somebody I haven’t seen before, they try to grab my attention, but Jerry’s smarter than that and knows he can’t make a sale with me.

Seeing him pull the same trick on another guy with the compliment, using the exact words, the same facial expression, speaking at the same volume, with that same big ear-to-ear grin, ending with a the same question that forces the guy to give some sort of response. I stop and tell him, “You’re terrible! I thought you were genuinely complimenting me, and here you are using the same tricks on everyone who passes by!”

I say it all in a manner half joking, half serious, but from Jerry’s reaction, silence, I am worried that he thinks I am 100% serious.

I continue walking and think back to C, the guy in the AA meeting who talked about how he couldn’t be honest with himself and try to sell timeshares at the same time. How it’s all a racket. They’ll promise you the world but what you receive varies widely from your expectations. I think about what it must take for somebody to be in this line of work. Are they in denial themselves? Do they realize what they’re doing is ethically questionable? Or do they do it with the full knowledge of what’s going to happen to the people they successfully sell to?

Jerry tells me that he’s been in the business for 7 years and it’s been very good to him. Beyond his smiling face and bubbling personality, I wonder if he’s happy.

I stop by the laundry and pick up my clothes, neatly folded in a plastic bag and charged only half the cost as the previous provider on Gomez. Score!

At home I shower and check my email to find Aaron has set a time and place to meet – Cafe San Angel at 7:00. I take an hour siesta and then head out to meet up with him.

He is 10 – 15 minutes late. Normally I’d be offended, but I cut him some slack because this seems commonplace in Mexico. We have a coffee at the cafe, and set out on foot in the light rain to the Malecon (boardwalk), taking it north towards the town center. I’m ashamed that I haven’t come this far north during my entire stay thus far. It’s a beautiful walk and you get to see the city and the locals socializing and kids playing. I have grown too content in my little Amapas bubble.

Aaron points out a couple of restaurants and homes he’s designed. He’s apparently been very busy in his 2 and a half years in Vallarta.

We walk just past the Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral and the night is just turning a little dark – enough that the lit display inside the church glows. The open-air church is beautiful and an air of magic seems to surround it.

Just down the block we step into La Cigale Bistro where we’re immediately greeted by the proprietors, Catalina and Christophe. They are friends of Aaron and freely show their affection with smiles, kisses and hugs. Christophe is French, by way of New York City and Catalina is Panamanian.

The restaurant is in a two story building situated on a corner, with Christophe and Catalina residing in the apartment upstairs. The ceilings are roughly 12 feet, with tall, rather narrow windows. The floor is a beautiful tile. WIndows are open and a few ceiling fans enhance the crosswind coming through either side of the restaurant. There is a full bar with an large and elaborate brass light fixture. The kitchen is visible from the restaurant, though not in an intentional, presented format – just off to the side, towards the rear and visible. I find the restaurant beautiful, but Christophe tells us that he’s closing for the month of October to remodel.

Christophe pulls the slate chalkboard from the front door to show us the menu at our table. Aaron gets the French Onion Soup and Flank Steak with Bernaise sauce. I get the Warm Goat Cheese Salad and Tuna Steak. For dessert we split a traditional French item, though I forget it’s name – small baked items served with ice cream and mint leaves. It’s all wonderful, and the prices were so reasonable. The entire dinner came to only $50 with lemonade and then coffee with dessert.

Aaron told me a bit about himself, having gone to graduate school in Milan, he moved around a bit but settled back in Chihuahua, where he’s from. He and a partner owned a furniture factory where he designed many of the products produced. He tells me that he often designs furniture custom for each job he works on.

Three years ago he fell asleep at the wheel and woke up in the hospital 24 days later. He decided to slow down and try to appreciate life more, so he sold his share of the factory and his home, purchasing a home in Vallarta and moving his business here.

We talk a bit about how his experience with his accident mirrored my experience getting into recovery, as both took a significant event to create change in our lives, and both involve a sense of spirituality.

We walk back down the Malecon and take our separate ways home, happy to have gotten to know each other better.

Chicago Visits Vallarta

07.27.2010 · Posted in Travel

Vallarta Day 11

I wake up around 10:00 and Jamie’s already got coffee made. The condo is beautiful. Part of a smaller complex of several buildings, he’s up off the ground about a half floor, looking out over the city from about 1/3 up the mountain. The street out front leads directly onto the pier on Los Muertos Beach, and one block down on Olas Altus there are plenty of cafes, shops and restaurants – it’s a great location. The unit was remodeled this past year with all the finest finishes and furniture. 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, I’d guess its about 1,000 sq ft in size. I could live here.

Jamie rambles off a number of places we could go to for breakfast. He settles on Daiquiri Dicks. The name makes it sound like some third-rate chain restaurant from the States, but I’m too hungry to come up with an alternative.

We walk the couple of blocks and are seated. We’re the only ones in the beachfront open-air restaurant. I’m actually surprised with the place. Instead of the laminated menu experience I was expecting, the server pulled out my chair and laid the cotton napkin on my lap, regaling us with the specials.

I ordered a breakfast burrito and it’s arguably the best I’ve ever had. Eggs with chorizo sausage, jalapeno bits and cilantro – hmmm, hmmm, good! Jamie ordered Chilaquiles that he was excited for, but was disappointed with the Daiquiri Dicks variety.

We split up from there and I head to Dee’s for my daily writing and better coffee. The traffic along Gomez leading to Amapas is backed-up, as it has a tendency to do, and brings out the Chicago in Vallarta as people begin to honk their horns incessantly until the single-lane, one-way traffic begins moving again. It’s unpleasant for those of us sitting outside at the local businesses, and it’s always a bit surprising to me as Vallarta is usually so laid back and slow-moving. But I’ll be damned – if one bread truck stops for a moment to unload a delivery, or a Taxi drops off some passengers at the San Marino Hotel, those horns start honking quickly! The problem is there’s no room to pull over and let traffic by. If you have to stop, you’re stopping everyone behind you. And sometimes that laid-back, slow-moving attitude can show up as inconsideration – for those who have to wait for you.

I head back to my place to prep for the gym. On the way I stop in at the grocer and pick up some bananas. I change clothes and gather my dirty laundry to drop off with the launders. I head out the door and make an initial stop in at the salon I visited when I first arrived in Vallarta. They were closed – it was Monday, after all. I head down to the launder’s place and they’re closed, too! I pout a bit to myself – ugh, now I need to carry this laundry back home.

There’s another salon next door to the launders, so I stop in there. They get me all trimmed up and they’re half the price as the other salon! I ask about the launders next door, wondering if maybe they’re just out to lunch, and they tell me they’re closed for the day, but there’s another place a block over. I head over to the other laundry place, a block closer to my rental, and find that they’re just as nice, and also half the price. This day is turning out well!

Arriving at the gym I find it a bit busy again today. I like that, as hopefully it means Aaron’s making some money and can sustain the business to keep it open. A couple of the construction guys are there finishing up the cabinetry work, and there are a handful of folks working out. David and Aaron greet me on my way back to the locker room. On my way back to the gym floor, Aaron stops me and asks me out to dinner before I leave town. He promises to show me another side of Vallarta. We agree tomorrow works well.

I tell him about the other Mexican architect I met on the beach – the hulking man with the tiny pink speedo inviting me to move to his house in Guadalajara. He vows to show me that not all architects are like that.

The workout is nice and David makes me a shake when I head out. For the life of me, I cannot get him to buy peanut butter for my shakes. I ask every day I’m there, and each time he tells me they’re out. It’s more of a joke now than a request – he’s clearly not going to be getting any peanut butter any time soon.

At home I shower and change and head out to the Alano Club. I pass the Coffee Cup and the cutie is working again, so I stop in. I tell him I forget his name and he reminds me it’s Angel. Embarrassingly, he remembers my name. As he makes me another protein shake I notice Facebook up on his laptop. I add myself as his friend and tell him that we’re “real amigos” now. He laughs and we joke around for a few minutes before I head to the meeting.

The meeting is okay, but I’m not feeling it today and leave at the half-point smoke break. I go home and settle in on the couch and flip on the tube. There are only a few English channels to choose from and I settle on some movie about the Emperor of China. While I never did figure out the name of the film, it seemed to be historically accurate and really interesting.

I’m in bed reading my book by 10:00 PM.

Propositions

07.26.2010 · Posted in Travel

Vallarta Day 10

I decide to tough it out amongst the mosquitos at Coco’s as I just can’t resist her breakfast. It’s Sunday morning and in addition to the occasional occupied table of other singles and couples, there’s a large table occupied of 8 guys still out partying from the previous night – some of which I find quite attractive.

Just as my food is served, one of the boys comes and sits with me. His name is Oscar or Oliver, or some O name I can’t recall. Appears to be around 20. He is not one of the guys I find attractive.

Crossing his legs, he leans in closer to me and says in his Mexican-laced English, “Do you want me to feed you that omelette?”

“Are you kidding me?” I respond.

“No, it would make me very happy” with his best seductive smile.

“No gracias.”

I’ve got to wonder – has this guy been at it all night long? He still has energy for this at 8:30 in the morning? I hear a couple of his friends chuckling at his audacity from the next table as I eat the omelette. On my own.

“Where you from?” He inquires?

“Minnesota.”

“Minnesotttuuhhh, huh?” He’s clearly aware of the accent.

“Yes.”

“I’m from San Diego,” he reports in a flirtatious, yet somehow condescending tone – as if he’s from a better place.

“That’s nice. I’m going to eat my breakfast now. You can go.” I don’t want to be a part of this game.

“Are you asking me to leave?” Astonished I’d suggest it.

“Yes.”

“Okay, I just have to stay a little longer to make it look good to my friends.”

I continue eating.

“Are you sure you want me to leave?”

I swallow, and then, “Yes.”

“Okay, bye.” He finally leaves.

I finish my breakfast and ask for the bill. Before it comes, they all leave and pile into a Jeep, circus clown style. Considering most of the cars here are smaller than American cars, it’s amazing how many people they can cram into them.

The Jeep’s windows are rolled down as it drives up the hill. Oscar, or Oliver, or whatever his name is, hanging from the window and waving, “Bye, Dan!”

Dee’s is rather uneventful. I get my morning coffee and blogging in. It’s Sunday and the gym is closed, but that’s okay, because it’s sunny and beautiful out – perfect for the beach!

It’s only around 11:30 when I get to the beach – the earliest I’ve been down here. I find a palapa and hunker in. I order a mineral water and fruit plate, soaking up the sun on my front. My rear is a bit red after laying out the the day, so after I get warm on the front, I retreat to the cover of the palapa.

I’m reading a book on my iPad and catch a Jack Russell out of the corner of my eye. It’s Alfredo from the other day with Canica. We chat a bit and he sets up camp at the palapa next to mine. A few friends join him minutes later and I return to reading my book.

I see a large man walk onto the beach with a couple of companions and set his belongings down. He appears to be about 40 or 45 years old, and large – probably 6’4″, very tan, beefy and muscular, but with the tiniest little pink speedo you ever did see. It barely covers the anatomy not suited for public appearance. I chuckle to myself a bit – you just don’t see these types of scenes back in Minnesota.

He gazes around and his eyes catch mine. Shit, I look back to my book.

Please don’t come over here. Please don’t come over here.

I look up without looking up and see his feet approaching.

Damnit.

I look up and he greets me, asking about my iPad. This damned iPad has given more strangers permission to come up and talk to me! I knew I should have just gotten a standard net book.

“I’m Ricky” he says at he plops into the chair next to mine.

“Hi, Ricky – I’m Dan.” I try not to look very interested, because I’m not.

“Are you a top or a bottom?”

Good lord, I think – it’s just noon and already I’ve had two very forward Mexicans ask me inappropriate questions. I feel my head – double-checking I don’t have a sign stuck on me.

“That’s a personal question.” I say back to him, smiling a bit, as if he should know better.

“I don’t think it’s a personal question. Americans seem to think it’s a personal question, but I don’t.” he says matter-of-faculty, in his broken English.

I look back at my iPad, ignoring him.

“I have a bottle of tequila. Do you want some tequila?” He asks.

Not looking up, “I don’t drink.”

“Oh, that’s good – I don’t drink either,” he reports with some feigned relief.

“Then why do you have a bottle of tequila?!?!” I ask, this time looking up.

“Oh, well, I only drink on the weekends. And I need it for sex. I cannot have sex without tequila.” he says, as if what he’s just told me makes any sense.

My patience is wearing thin. “You only want sex,” I declare, making it clear that I’m not interested in sex with him.

“You think I only want sex. I do not only want sex.” He’s trying to backtrack and redeem himself a bit. “Do you know where Guadalajara is?”

“No.” My gaze returns to the eBook.

I wonder what this looks like to an outsider. Me, pale white, in my little skin-tight bathing suit and sunglasses, sitting next to this huge bulky man, tan, in his tiny little pink speedo. My body language displaying my displeasure, and his, showing his machoism, regardless of the speedo, confident in himself.

He continues narrating his story to me, “I am an architect in Guadalajara. I have only been living alone for two weeks. It’s the first time I’ve lived alone. My boyfriend kicked me out two weeks ago. Suspecting ahead of time, I prepared another house, where I now live alone.”

“You could come live with me there.” He states, posing a question.

“So you’re not only looking for sex, you want rebound sex, and you’re trying to ply me with tequila to get it.” I state my case.

“No gracias.” I declare judgement.

“Well then how about a visit? It’s not far and it’s a very beautiful place. You would like it very much. I am a wealthy man.”

I’ve had it at this point.

“No. I’m not interested. I’ve tried to be nice to you, but you continue. Leave. Go. Get away from me.”

He finally departs and I enjoy the rest of my time on the beach alone, with my book.

Later at home I shower and take a nap, getting up to head over to the Alano club. I stop by the Coffee Cup to get a protein shake, but their closed. DIsappointed I head across the street to the Cyber Smoothie internet cafe. Their product isn’t as good and I was looking forward to chatting with the cute guy at the Coffee Cup.

The guy working at the Cyber Smoothie cafe says he recognizes me from sitting at Dee’s. We chat for a bit. He seems nice enough, but his shake isn’t that great and he doesn’t have a lid, so I have to take extra care not to spill it on my way over to the Alano club.

En route to the Alano I run into Jose, the cute time-share salesman guy with the drinking problem. He smells a bit like booze, but reports to me that he’s “taken a step” and not drank for today. I’m not sure what he means in regards to the step, but I guess it’s just a translation blip in regards to the 12 steps. He goes on to tell me that he got in a fight at the bar the previous night. Some jealous boyfriend drama on the dance floor.

Thank god I’ve been given the blessing of not having to deal with that crap any more.

I continue onto the club. The NA meeting has a couple of the same folks, and a couple of people who weren’t there yesterday. One of the guys, a very nervous fellow with a severe speech impediment, shares. I’m guessing he is about 40 years old. He talks about how he was raped as a boy. As a result he became a mute, not speaking one word from the age of 4 to 19. Wow, I think, I’ve got a lot to be grateful for.

Carlos, the nearly 90 days clean guy, is there again. He’s got a lot of gratitude for being clean and good energy – I like him and he greets me again as if we’re old friends.

The meeting concludes and there is a 30 minutes break before the AA meeting starts. The crew starts to trickle in. I am getting a bit sleepy, but I promised Dudley that I would be in attendance for his 10 year sobriety anniversary. Besides, he’s bringing a carrot cake.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one determined to make this meeting, as the room quickly fills and Dudley’s cake proved much too small.

After the meeting I meet up with Jamie for dinner at La Palapa down on the beachfront. He gets the pork and I get a beat salad and the filet. Everything is delicious and the setting on the beach is unbeatable. A man performs in the bar, and I could swear Sting was with us – his voice was a perfect match. Undoubtedly aware of this, he sang a couple of Sting hits as well.

We head up to Cafe de Angels for dessert and to see Jamie’s “Boyfriend” – a guy who frequently sings and plays guitar at the cafe. This guy’s talent is truly amazing that it’s almost a shame he’s playing on a street-side cafe in Vallarta. We share a piece of the tre-leche cake. It’s very yummy.

The rain has created a river in the street by this time, coming down so hard that it actually penetrates my umbrella. I stay at Jamie’s place up the street and we watch reruns of Glee, finally falling asleep on Episode 4, featuring the football team performing Beyonce’s Should Have Put a Ring On It.