Oaxaca

-Oaxaca City/Puerto Escondido/Zipolite

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E:  Tanya arrived in Oaxaca City on February 7th. We were originally supposed to meet in Cancun at the beginning of February but I was enjoying Mexico so much that with a week to go I had made it only as far as Mexico City. I didn’t want to hightail it direct to Cancun and miss out on Oaxaca, Chiapas and the Yucatan so Tanya agreed to procure a connecting flight to Oaxaca City. I only had a few days and I was running around like mad doing the necessary errands in preparation for her arrival. I also searched all over the ciudad viaje trying to find a nice romantic hotel for our reunion. Oaxaca City is a noisy, dusty, chaotic place – I certainly wasn’t infatuated by it. The drivers here are the worst I’ve encountered yet – at least in the way they treated me. Impatient, ruthless, and damn near endangering;  I admit there was one altercation which concluded with a taxi driver losing his side mirror. It also takes forever to get around and get things done. People move extremely slowly in their interactions. The brother-in-law of my Couchsurfing host, Darcy, jested that if you can get more than one thing done in a day, it has been a very good day. I had my work cut out for me to get ready for Tanya’s coming. I just barely managed to get everything together in the nick of time. Even found some motorcycle brake fluid to fix the front and rear brakes which had both given out spontaneous during the high elevation ride through the Oaxaca Mountains from Veracruz – an exciting descent indeed.

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The hotel I had finally decided on was extremely lavish by my standards. After visiting around a dozen hotels, I chose the Hotel de Los Angeles because it was the only hotel in the city which was like a resort with a large pool and expansive manicured grounds. The room was plain but had the largest king sized bed, possibly in all of Mexico. I was super excited for Tanya to arrive now and for her to see how much I had splurged on our digs. After three months apart, we were both hanging to see one another. I arrived at the small one building airport maybe 30 minutes early to await her arrival. The security man wouldn’t let me wait with my bike in front of the terminal so I found a shady spot a couple dozen meters away and watched the front door intently.  After watching what seemed like every passenger on the plane file out of the terminal, she finally emerged  looking like a Charlie’s Angel in cowboy boots, reflective sunnys and carrying a new motorcycle helmet for yours truly. I had wanted to give her my James Dean ‘blue steel’ look but I was so excited that it was a struggle to offer anything but childlike toothy grin. This was the first time that I had ever planned on doing a long-term travel with a girlfriend and I admit the anxiety was lessened sufficiently by the fact that it was Tans. We had had such a blast in Jamaica and she had proved her street smarts in a few precarious situations that I was positive she would be a great travel partner. I was also eager to see if I could learn to be a team of two (Tanya’s expression) after so much time travelling solo. We strapped her backpack onto my bike and shot out of the airport into the warm, wild Mexican night fully psyched about the adventures awaiting us.

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T: Mexicola. It may sound strange but in all honesty, the first major thing I noticed when I arrived in Mexico, was Coca Cola. In Mexico, Coke is not only a refreshing beverage to the Mexican people, it seems to be a way of life. I’d never seen anything like it. Grown men on their lunch break, sharing liters of Coke. People of all shapes and sizes, everywhere, all the time, sipping cola. Even babies, most horrifyingly, drinking Coca Cola out of their sippy cups and crying out for more. It was unbelievable, especially having just hopped off a plane from a place where kale is a staple food and more than half my friends have cut sugar out of their diets all together. I went from watching the population of Vancouver ordering fresh juices from Capers to observing an entire race consume, in massive quantities, possibly the unhealthiest beverage on the planet. The smart people at Coca Cola have spent millions luring Mexicans to spend their pesos on this thick, sweet liquid and the people have suffered as a result. Recently crowned ‘Most Obese Country in the World’, surpassing the USA, the evidence isn’t hard to miss. What’s more is that nobody seems to question the dietary repercussions or care that their children will probably be looking at early onset diabetes and a laundry list of other ailments, dental issues, not to mention shortened life span. Cheap, refreshing and full of comforting sugary spoonfuls, Coca Cola has invaded Mexican culture so pervasively that one of our hosts just could not fathom eating his meals without one. “The food doesn’t taste the same,” he shrugged while rapidly draining his glass and ordering a second to wash down his food. Having a sweet tooth myself, I can completely understand the need for a tasty sugar treat after a savoury meal, but this obsession and dependence is extreme. So extreme, in fact, that at one market in the city, our hunt for a bottle of water took going to several food stands and tiendas as the only beverage in the fridges was Coke or Pepsi. Literally, it was the only liquid option. We probably went to over seven places, no water in sight, all customers gleefully enjoying a bottle of cola with their tacos and tortas. It’s disturbing. But who wouldn’t rally around a soft drink that keeps you cool for less than a dollar and is also the sponsor of your child’s soccer team, sends free signage to your tienda and supplies large tents to provide shade at public venues? It isn’t just the bottles that litter Mexico, it’s the advertising too. Signs, banners and trucks with the Coca Cola logo are everywhere you turn – there is no escape. It is treasured and celebrated and could be described as the national drink of this downtrodden country. As astonishing as this was to witness, I lay no blame to the people, as they did not ask to be inundated with one and only one affordable thirst-quenching option. After searching high and low, I did find one other beverage, but excite it did not. A Coca Cola owned “fresh” juice company, Valle, supplies Mexico with an alternative; a can of overly sweet juice from concentrate, spreading the joys and consequence of sugar all the same, but twice the price and disguised in a can with a fresh fruit façade. Outrageously this all occurs in one of the biggest fruit producing regions in the world, abundant with fresh orange, pineapple and other fruit farms that any right-minded person north of Idaho wishes they could pick from a branch and toss in their juicer. Growing up in a household with a “no pop” policy and therefore having no desire to drink it in adulthood,  I feel embarrassed to admit that I have fallen into the Coca Cola trap a time or two since I’ve been in Mexico. Often there simply is nothing else to swallow and in the heat, you need something to wet your whistle. Water, after all, can be hard to find and three to five times the price. The intelligent business and marketing acumen at play don’t serve the health and growth of these beautiful people, but exist only to take advantage of a poor economy as they ship inexpensive bottles of rot into thirsty mouths gaining buckets of cash in return. Throughout the entire country, they all choose Coke, and everyone is happy.

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T: My first full day in Mexico, we decided to take a tour and see all the popular sites of Oaxaca city in a day. Erik is strictly against package tours, of course he has his motorcycle to get around, so this would be a new experience for both of us. We set it up through a hotel down the street from where we were actually staying and were happy for this decision later on. On our first stop at some giant and totally un-exhilarating tree, we peered into another tour van and were greeted by my old friend Bryce from Vancouver. Awesome start to the day as we were planning on meeting up in Mexico eventually and it was just my first day. It turns out that this tour is pretty much the only thing to do in Oaxaca City. At our first stop it became clear that looking at ruins was not a great interest of mine, but nonetheless, I was interested in doing anything by Erik’s side after three long months apart.  An interesting stop at a weaving shop taught us how to use plants and natural items to dye fabric and was followed up by a more intriguing look into the making of Mescal, Oaxaca’s famous and oh-so-strong liquor made from agave. We were encouraged to  sample many teeny tiny shots of different flavours and ages – no extra charge. This followed with a much appreciated stop for lunch at a buffet restaurant. The hotel desk that we booked the tour through clearly assured us that everything would be included in the  price, however as I was quickly learning, in Mexico nothing costs what it’s supposed to. Dragging around pretty heavy hangovers from our reunion celebration the night before, we gorged ourselves filling several plates with delicious food and sweets from the buffet, washing it all down with several fresh juices as the sun was in full force that day. Everyone on our bus was doing the same, many of them tossing back a few cervezas to boot. Stuffed to the brim, we headed for the exit to pile back in the van, but we were stopped at the door. A waiter handed us a bill for just under 400 pesos. To put it in perspective, the cost of the tour itself was only 400 pesos and an average meal in Mexico costs maybe 30 pesos. Watching the way Erik’s face reacted, I knew this would get interesting. So there we are, Erik, myself, the waiter and doorman, eventually joined by the restaurant owner, our bus driver and soon, a crowd of people from our bus. A Mexican stand-off, if you will, without guns (visible), in the doorway of a restaurant. Breathing heavily but steadily, Erik gently reminded the guide that the tour was supposed to be all-inclusive and declared that we would not be paying more, we already paid for the tour. The men deny any dishonesty in the matter immediately and continue pointing to the bill, looking at us, at each other, and back to the bill again quizzically. People shrug. Nobody moves. Erik then begins inquiring about the final destination of our tour and would we need to pay an entrance fee for that too? We had already paid two unmentioned entrance fees and hadn’t put up a fuss… much. It was ALL supposed to be included and we were fed up. At this point, all the people from our bus start piping up, everyone calling the guide a robbero and a liar and quietly complaining because each of them had already sucked it up and paid to avoid causing a stink. But not Erik. He will not be taken for a ride nor let anyone take advantage of him just because he is white. He certainly does not bow down without putting up a fight;  they needed to be taught a lesson for gouging tourists in this manner. No more pesos would be leaving his pocket. So they stared at us. We stared back. The sun grew hotter. The guide, sweating and pacing,  whining that he will have to pay out of his own pocket if we don’t pay, blabs on in fast Spanish to his gang of scammers. After at least 45 minutes in the blazing heat, all the other poor tourists standing around waiting patiently, the guide tells us to get in the bus and we will sort it out at our hotel. They were indeed the ones to blame, he remarks.  So we are finally on our way to the last and most worthwhile destination, heads held high for not contributing to the tour scam.

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The bumpy, one hour ride into the mountains was well worth it. The view at Hievre al Agua was stunning and we relaxed on smooth limestone rock, dangling our feet in warm pools of teal water and gazing out at lush mountains. We were still snickering to one another about the idiots who tried to rob us and the thousands of tourists who would rather pay up than speak up. Lesson one:  Ask a lot of questions before giving over your money, get the product or the facts BEFORE you pay and stand firm if you have a hint of suspicion that you’re being taken advantage of, because you probably are. As I mentioned before, we never booked through the hotel we were actually staying at, so we were untraceable to the tour company and gleefully skipped down the street when the van dropped us off, leaving the guide to sort the matter out with the hotel himself. I have a feeling he covered his costs anyway.

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E: We really enjoyed Puerto Escondido on the Pacific Coast. Tanya was especially excited for some tropical beach time having recently left the Canadian winter behind. The hotel we found was the cheapest one listed on Booking.com. And upon arrival I was able to negotiate the cost down even a bit further. We wound up staying at the Yuri-mar Hotel for 150 pesos a night or around $11. Considering we were just a block off the beach and the room was super clean with a big overhead fan (which didn’t even screech) we had done very well. The best part about this place, however, were the other residents. The Yuri-mar is the regular vacation spot for a bunch of blue collar Canadian snowbirds who come down every summer for a few months. I don’t think any of them are actually retired, but the Yuri-mar is so inexpensive that these regulars are able to take the time off work to come to Mexico and simply hang out and live (and drink) without any stress. It is nice to see people able to live such a relaxed lifestyle without thinking they need to purchase a vacation property or fall into the timeshare trap. We spent many relaxing days on the beach, going for nice dinners and getting pissed on the roof top patio with our new friends. I can’t remember their names, but the leader of the group was named Jimmy the Tortuga and he was from Montreal. He warned us about a crocodrillo that lives in a tiny green swamp right on the beach. He also invited me out for a morning fishing trip for marlin and dorado. Tanya was super pissed when I told her that I accepted because she wanted to go too. I told her that they only had one seat left on the boat. I didn’t know how to explain that I had been chosen by the boys to go fishing (drinking) with them and it wasn’t appropriate to ask if you can bring your old lady! She got over it when we returned after four hours without so much as a bite between eight of us. A real shame. Especially since as a marlin virgin, I had been nominated to pull in the first marlin hooked. We did get to see literally like a hundred dolphins jumping through the water around us, some coming within a few feet of the boat. That definitely made the trip worthwhile (and the drinks).

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T: My first bus ride in Mexico from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido was a gorgeous ride through the mountains, passing little vibrant towns and winding rivers on our descent to the beach. I was very excited to hit the ocean but also a little nervous, unsure of how I would locate Erik and the hotel we had agreed to meet at. My Spanish was certainly not that good, although I did study my pocket phrasebook and did my best to converse with an adorable Mexican family and the driver on my bus ride. It didn’t look like much from the street but the hotel Erik had found online was perfect and luckily, my taxi driver knew exactly where it was. The hotel was situated on the side of the single lane, torn up ‘highway’ and its position was perfectly equal distance between what became our two favourite spots:  the beach and “Mexi-town,“ as w dubbed it. A 15 minute walk away is the tourist/surfer beach, Zicatela, which is populated with many expensive shops, restaurants and hotels. Although adorable and muy tranquillo, sadly this is the area most vacationers stay, not brave enough to venture out into Mexi-town where we spent many hours wandering the streets, chatting with locals and dining on much cheaper and far more daring cuisine. I certainly didn’t come to Mexico to eat pizza (although one spot in Mexi-town sure did make a good slice). We avoided the popular beach for the most part and while out adventuring on the bike one day discovered a true gem. The coast of Puerto is made up of a series of beaches. Zicatela is the longest, busiest and most surf-able. Bahia Principal houses all the fishing boats and has some nice beachside breakfast spots. The next beach serves a resort and then a few hard to reach little bays follow. Beyond this, we struck gold in no-man’s land. We had to do a little off-roading to reach it but after his experience riding thru sand on the Baja peninsula, I had complete faith in Erik’s ability to keep the bike steady (albeit the fish-tailing is a bit startling.) We ditched the bike and wandered over a dune on foot and, there before us, lay a completely deserted beach that stretched for miles. (Literally, it runs the length of the coast all the way up to Acapulco.) Nothing in site, not even a palm tree to shade us from the sun, which reached deep into the 30’s while we were there. Completely in heaven, we stripped down and ran into the waves, in hindsight, perhaps a little too quickly. Apparently the surf is pretty rough here and we soon realized the waves coming at us were massive;  around 10 to 12 feet high, with a powerful undertow. Although I fancy myself a strong swimmer, I am inexperienced in ocean swimming and waves are NOT my forte. Admittedly I was fucking scared. Erik did his best trying to coerce me in further but seemed to forget that at his height, the waves were a touch easier for him to navigate than for me. Panic-stricken, in the middle of a large wave with an even larger one approaching, I stupidly ignored Erik’s instructions and instead of swimming into the wave and duck diving, I ran back towards shore and got violently smashed, the washing machine crushing down and taking me for a not-so-thrilling ride along the ocean floor. Luckily, I emerged without physical injury with only my mane full of sand but my pride hasn’t quite been the same since.  After that, I merely bird-bathed in the inches of water at the close-out of each wave, watching Erik gleefully ride them all alone, scared shitless that I would have to go in and rescue him. Of course, he held his own.

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I faced my fear of the waves again the following night but it didn’t play out as the miraculous conquest adventure I had hoped for. First off, I was drunk. We had met up with Bryce and his friend Stephanie at their hotel across town early in the day and immediately began downing beers. Tipsy quite quickly, we trotted out to find food, which we did and paired our meal with a bottle of cheap tequila from the local tienda. The waiter, who was most definitely stoned, was even nice enough to bring us salt, limes and glasses even though we had not purchased the bottle from his bar. Yay Mexico!  We ate, drank and caught up eventually making our way down to Bryce’s local beach nook for sunset. The boys ran into the waves, which were slightly less offensive than the ones the day before at the secluded beach. So after diligently studying the rhythm for several minutes I decided to brave the ocean once again and prove to myself I could survive its roar. In all my glory, I did indeed survive and even managed to body-surf a few gentle waves, but sadly, one of the precious turquoise earrings that Erik had bought for me in Arizona did not. Mental note:  always take off important jewellery BEFORE swimming in the ocean. I still have one earring but only another bottle of tequila could comfort Erik. Apparently Bryce is not the drinker I had assumed him to be and a little ways into our second tequila bottle, he and his lady bowed out, leaving Erik and I to find our way back to the Yuri-Mar on our own. And which direction was that in? Abandoned by our friends, drunk and ravenous, we set out into the black night to find some tacos and our hotel. No street signs or people to guide us and alleyways full of howling, mangy, flee-ridden dog gangs, we were forced to walk side by side with the perilous ocean that had stolen my pride and nearly cost me my relationship, but it did indeed, lead us home.

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T: Hungover and exhausted we decided it was a great day to move to a new town, after a week spent in Puerto Escondido. I rushed to catch the only bus leaving that day for the remote beach town of Zipolite (zip-o-lee-tay) and when I hit the seat, fell asleep almost instantly. Rookie move on any bus in the developing world. There is no announcement telling you where you are when the bus stops. Most of the time people just bang on the roof, a signal to the driver to pull over, especially in scarcely populated areas with tiny towns scattered along the highway. There are rarely designated bus stops. The bus keeps going and it’s up to you to keep your head up, watch for signs and react quickly to catch your stop. Lucky for me, I woke up in the next proper sized town and instinctively knew I had gone too far. Trying to remain calm, I quickly found a bus passing the outskirts of my destination and with the addition of two wasted hours, found my way to the sleepy town of Zipolite. Fortunately, just as I arrived in town, I was alert enough to spot Erik’s bike parked in the parking area of a hotel Especially fortuitous seeing as how we had not selected a particular meeting spot and I was over two hours late. This miracle would be one of many in our separate travel days to come. We totally fell in love with Zipolite instantly. Erik, having been there a couple extra hours, found us the most economical hotel on the beach and we were the only tenants. The place was a little creepy but the view of the ocean eased our minds and led us to quite a relaxing state. We had chosen to come here because it was one of the only nude beaches in Mexico and we had heard it would be anything but boring. It certainly had some million dollar views. Every morning, directly out our window down on the sand, one odd fellow sunned his birthday suit while practicing yoga, often solely mountain pose (luckily facing the waves). Quite the sight. We watched and eventually joined the many fascinating couples who took their naked bodies to the sand each day, some flaunting and some just enjoying the anonymity. Not much to speak of as far as a town or market;  the main drag was home to quaint bars and taco stands and the place was littered with hippy types. It appeared as though the people who called Zipolite home were travelers who had washed up on the beach of death (what ‘Zipolite’ means in Spanish) having lost all their money and possessions. They nonetheless lived blissfully in the streets or on the beach – beading jewellery, tossing fire, doing magic tricks and looking for rouge pesos in the sand – often high on some sort of drug. It was quite entertaining to sip a cheap cocktail (this town is known for its 2 for 1 deals) and watch the bohemians drift by, either from one of many beach bars or while sitting at a table in the street. Erik was enamoured with one guy’s stick tossing performance and I fancied the one who came by with homemade chocolate hemp balls for five pesos apiece. Laidback most often, however, the party scene was fierce some nights and if you chose the right bar, you’d be in for a treat.

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One evening after a romantic dinner, oddly at a restaurant that did not serve alcohol, I was feeling for a drink. Erik, in a bizarre new personality twist, was not in the mood for drinking so I went to what appeared to be a quiet little reggae bar on the beach alone for a beer. Just one. While swinging in a hammock enjoying the sounds of the ocean, the owner of the bar, Armando, offers me a second. I had really only planned to have one and knew Erik would be expecting me home soon but something possessed me to say yes and indulge in another and I wasn’t even quite finished my first. Before I knew it, Armando and a couple of uber-stoned Mexican girls are serving up weed by the beach fire in the cutest little snake pipe that you ever did see. So we smoke and we drink and how it happened, I‘m not quite sure, but those two beers turned into several more. And so now there’s a few other people there, they keep appearing at the bar, hanging out for one quick drink, saying something hilarious and merrily skipping off down the beach to perhaps the next bar or who knows where. I’m now perched at this bar, Armando on the other side and we’re trading stories and you wouldn’t believe how well I am speaking Spanish – Armando and most of his guests only speaking bits of English, if any at all, so I have to keep up no matter how drunk I am at this point. Armando is entertaining me with stories of when he was a gang member in Mexico city, showing me his tattoos and telling me how he left the life of a cholo to make a clean living in this quiet town; surfing and supporting his two young kids who live in other countries with their mothers, both of whom he visits during rainy season. I start trying to tell Armando about my trip and Erik and Couchsurfing and decide he needs to check Couchsurfing out because he would be a good host so he gets this notebook out for me to write it all down in. Moments or hours later, I forget about Couchsurfing and see this notebook in front of me and I start doodling on a page. Armando doesn’t remember either he’s just cracking more beers for us and rolling more joints while I draw this really fascinating design on this page with this really cool pen.  All of a sudden, while watching me draw Armando gets this brilliant idea and he busts out some little papers and asks me to make a flyer for a party he is having tomorrow at his bar. So I do. I start to make this wicked poster and now remember I have a double sided sharpie in my bag and with this new sharpie all hell breaks loose and we start having “art offs” and drinking mojitos now. Armando draws something and then I draw something and we keep trying to ‘out doodle’ each other and it’s a fucking riot and all these characters keep popping into the bar and peeping our drawings and cheering us on as we try to fill the page with tiny doodles, one after the other. Oh and the Mescal is out too, did I mention that? Not just any mezcal but some seriously intense mezcal from the mountain people of Oaxaca, Armando says, in this giant unmarked bottle. I could very well be getting drugged, I think, but we’re all drinking it so whatever and the night keeps going and I feel pretty fucking fantastic and I sure do wish Erik was here. Our attention turns to this huge candle station which drips wax down the front of this piece of wood on his bar and I comment that the long drippings are gone and he is pissed and says the tourists come and break them off and he hates it because it’s like art to him. I KNOW! I tell him about my candle wall in my old studio and how brilliant it was and we’re the best of friends and I take my sharpie and make signs in Spanish and English warning people not to touch the candle wax and he’s so happy. And then this young wealthy looking Mexican couple come up and we put on Cat Stevens which is my favourite but is actually on Armando’s Ipod and I’m so excited and we all start dancing in the sand. Now the couple wants mojitos but Armando is too stoned and drunk and at some point awhile back he started doing cocaine and rendered himself totally useless so I jump behind the bar to bartend, making the mojitos for everyone and loving every second of it and Cat Stevens is still playing. Then Armando gets the brilliant idea to start another art project with the sharpie, which by now I have given him as a gift. He wants to draw a mural ON HIS OUTDOOR DEEPFREEZER which is behind his bar. Obviously I’m delighted. More art! So we do it and now Otis Redding comes on because, of course, he would have that on his Ipod too?! By the time we are done, the freezer is covered in some random art attack, I’ve drawn up posters for his party which he promises to photocopy and hand out for the party, tagged most of his notebook and made signs to protect his candle wax art. Oh yah and I managed to consume roughly 8 beers, 4 shots of mezcal, an unidentified amount of rum in the late night mojitos, 4 FAT joints and one round with the pipe. I decide it is time to go after adding this all up in my head, throw Armando some money, certainly not enough for what I had drank and SOMEHOW I walked back to our hotel and Erik was sitting up, terrified that I had been killed since we had parted ways at 8 and it was now past 4am. I was a bit sad when he didn’t want to hear all about my night but promised him I would take him there the following night so he could see my beautiful art projects and meet my new friend Armando and see the candle wax and do it all over again.

You wouldn’t think anything more exciting could happen for us in Zipo, but Mexico is full of surprises. We had been staying at Hotel Neptuno for 4 nights, but had only paid for the first night, which is pretty standard. Rule #1: Never give your money up front. After two nights without power ie. FAN, lights, computer and running water, we obviously didn’t think we should pay full price. Erik had initially negotiated a room rate with the maid as she was the only one around during our check-in, but over the last few days a sly, creepy looking man that appeared to be the owner, finally surfaced. We exchanged greetings a few times and did complain to him about the power failure but nothing came of it aside from a brief, insincere apology. So this afternoon, the one where I am nursing quite possibly the worst hangover of my life, as we are lounging in bed, there is a knock on our door. Erik, always quick to his feet, instantly jumps up and cracks it a smidge, only to find the hotel owner standing stiffly, very red in the face and extremely upset. Oh, and he is not alone. He came to demand that we pay for the past three nights immediately! He is yammering on in Spanglish saying that he knows we are not going to pay him so he has brought with him the policia. The policia that accompanied him was a plain-clothed man, in a Hawaiianish shirt and sandals, hiding around the corner. Erik, remaining characteristically calm, walks over to the “officer” and asks for identification, dutifully ignoring the aggravated owner. The man produces a photo ID which Erik brings into the room, takes several photos of and returns. The owner is so pissed off now, and the officer suggests that Erik come down to the police station with them and settle our bill. With every intention of paying a fair price for the service we received, Erik tells me to wait in the room, lock the door and everything will be fine. Of course, I plead with him not to go and try to convince him to settle it now so we can get the hell out of this place but Erik, as usual, won’t give in just because he’s being pressured or threatened and stands his ground. So he disappears with these two hot-headed idiots, I dig out my knife and bear spray and wait for his safe return. A solid half hour later, a sudden rapid banging on the door, I draw my knife and inch towards it. Erik finally realizes he is banging but hasn’t said anything so with an “it’s me!” I let him in. “Pack up, we have to go, NOW.” We shove everything into our bags and head down the three flights of stairs for the hippy hangout next door. Not an easy task as Erik has two large metal panniers, his motorcycle gear and another massive rucksack and I have two backpacks as well. We manage to get our gear out the back door unmolested and throw some bills at the maid as I dash off in a taxi and Erik peels out behind me on the bike. I look out the back window of the cab and see the policia enter the hotel. What happened at the Police station? Well, the previously English speaking asshole owner had all of a sudden forgotten how to speak English and demanded Erik speak Spanish; they knew he knew how. But he doesn’t really know how very well and they were frustrated that he wasn’t giving them the money so they pulled gun on him and tried to forcibly push him into a cell. Erik charges the men, who are half his size, knocks them over and flees out the front of this “Police Station,” which is actually just a random, unmarked building containing a single cell. There is still no real proof that this even was a police station. There were no uniforms, police cars, official looking files or anything else recognizable. But then, hey, it is Mexico. The only real indication that these were real cops was the laminated police ID card and, well, the gun of course. But that doesn’t necessarily scream law enforcement in these parts. Which brings us back to our frantic departure. So now we seem to have lost the ‘police’ or the armed men anyway who stormed the hotel. Maybe the maid told them that we had given her some cash – who cares really. We safely retreat to a new hotel at the other end of the beach where we are greeted by a kindly-looking elderly man, the owner, who seems really quite sweet. We pay him, one night upfront of course, and head straight for the ocean to wash away the days sweat and worry from our brush with the “law.”

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