The start of another old set of blog entries – from Mazatlan to Guatemala, through more of Central America, all capped off in New York city…
You’re travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, Mazatlan!
In addition I present to you a social experiment, one new to me yet routinely practiced in the slums of India, the mud brick houses of the Middle East and the off-white bungalows of south-central Hague. Two families – one vacation. 15 family members – one house.
It breaks down like this:
Laynni’s parents for a month, her sister/hubby and 5+1 kids for 3 weeks (+1 more for one week), my parents and 2 sisters for a week, Laynni’s brother/wife/son for two weeks and us for 3 weeks. Got all that?
The Locke/Dupres got started a week ahead of us way up top at a beach on the north end, then we arrived and we all move to dueling condos just north of the marina (although most of my family cautiously retained a nice and distant safe house in the Golden Zone) where we enjoyed the amazing views, long picturesque beach and some rousing games of Ultimate Frisbee (even though our Frisbee doesn’t really fly right and none of us know how to throw one properly anyway). Mom, of all people, made the acrobatic catch of the weekend, Andrew showed the heart and determination of a plucky single mom on the Movie of the Week, and I led the league in interceptions thrown but, also like Brett Favre, I am still undecided about my retirement. Being well away from the main part of Mazatlan we spent a good part of every day buzzing around town in a parade of buses, taxis, pulmonias and aurigas. Pulmonias are like canopy-covered clown cars filled with grinning tourists who feel like they are getting “the full Mazatlan experience”, which is very true if you define it as being ripped off like a Democrat for a short ride across town. In fact, most of the brochures do mention this, along with Donkey Shows, as quintessential Mexico must-do’s. Aurigas are small red trucks with covered boxes which serve basically the same purpose except that in exchange for being able to take on more tourists and rake in more pesos they graciously provide a generous dose of carbon monoxide poisoning which, oddly enough, left the same aftertaste as Pacifico.
Nope, everything went pretty well, other than a pleasant morning walk that suddenly turned into an epic battle against the raging sea where we very nearly “lost a lot of good men out there”, but in reality just lost a bit of skin and some pride that wasn’t being used anyway, and young Brennan suffering a vicious jellyfish attack, the details of which you will be able to read all about in my forthcoming novel, tentatively titled either “Young Man and the Sea” or “Jelly Dick”. I, of course, was sleeping in during both these adventures.
As for my family (to paraphrase):
They watched in amazement as a drunken tourist spent a good portion of her afternoon treating a ragged, wooden support beam in Joe’s Oyster Bar like it was a polished and fortnightly-disinfected stripper pole. I’m told her bathing suit bottoms will never be the same. Hilarity, and two weeks of copycat pole humping, ensued.
Jaime spent most of her time relaxing by the pool and doing her best to ignore any signs of foreshadowing while in the company of a leathery old sun-worshiper who has been staying by herself in the same room at the same hotel for several months each year for the last 25 years.
As a group, we went to a couple Mazatlan Venados games. Venados is Spanish for “deer” because, clearly, what else would call a Mexican baseball team? Of course, their opponents were the Culiacan Tomateros which, as far as I can tell, translates to “People Who Do Tomatoes”. Another shocking discovery was Esteban Loaiza pitching for the Venados. He used to pitch for the Blue Jays a few years back but I suppose that’s how it works with small market teams these days, always losing their best players to New York, Boston and Mazatlan. Very entertaining games – good ball, enthusiastic crowds and a buff mascot whose most enthralling gag involved pretending he had misplaced his penis – It’s not down there! Where has it gone? – leading him to eventually conclude that he must be, yes, gay. The crowd loved it. At least they seemed to in between huge sloppy mouthfuls of pizza, chips, cotton candy, pork rinds and the clear fan favourite – large styrofoam plates of greasy red sausage. The team colours are red, too, so there you go. A group of young girls a couple rows in front of us, sisters I think, based on the uncanny similarity of both their toques and under-bites, literally spent the entire game scarfing down every version of lukewarm junk food on offer, showing a particular fondness for the sausage. It was disgusting, and wrong, yet somehow we couldn’t look away. Like watching a brother and sister make out at prom.
During the seventh inning stretch a pair of shiny new vehicles appeared on the field and took a brief tour of the infield, apparently in order to give everyone a quick look at what they almost certainly wouldn’t win and would likely never be able to afford. Either way, we couldn’t help but wonder why the two drivers, whose job only required their attention for two and a half of the roughly 180 minute baseball game, still felt the need to multitask – one with his head hunched over against his shoulder to talk on his cell phone, the other with one hand casually draped over the steering wheel as he used the other to work away at a large ice cream cone.
Straight from the “How ’bout that?” files, Culiacan employs a 3 foot tall midget bat boy (is that the right name? Should it be Bat Little Person? Or maybe Little Batman?). Despite our confusion on what to call him, and whether or not we were being oppressive by even noticing his height (are all batboys created equal, too, just like dental assistants or lesbian porn?), we were impressed with his agility and overall pep, which led to a long Johnstonian discussion regarding the likely outcome of a footrace to first base between him and mom.
After a couple days of needlessly worrying about whether or not we’d find a place to watch the World Junior final we finally settled on one of about a dozen choices, a place called the Dugout I think, where we joined about 40 Canadians and 2 Americans who all cheered raucously for three hours and then left in very different states of happiness but very similar states of drunkenness. Coincidentally, some random couple showed up late so we let them squeeze in at our table, some people got talking to them and it turns out they were not only from Saskatoon but the girl also works at RUH, although her and Jaime didn’t know each other, and apparently Andie coached her sister in ringette. On a side note, Andie I thought you should know that apparently Microsoft Word’s extensive dictionary does not officially recognize the word “ringette”. Yet, “qua” it’s still ok with. Hmmm.
From there we embraced our peculiar combination of dejection and 9 beer giddiness (similar to the feeling you get when you eat bad pork on the same day you beat the crap out of a hooker) and stumbled down to Joe’s Oyster Bar where buckets of beer were drank, wooden poles were fake-humped and the masses were dazzled by an epic dance off (see Facebook for more on that). It was like “Real World Mazatlan” produced by CBC.
After that we moved to the complete opposite side of town and the mere 15 of us that remained moved into one big house in the Old Town. Cool area, nice colonial house with a lot of open air and a nice pool that only turned some people’s hair and clothes blue. Less than 50%, really. Somewhat surprisingly, this bizarre social experiment, our personal version of Vacation, went extremely well, despite arguably unhealthy levels of KD and random splashing. Maybe Randy Quaid was the problem after all.
I think I mentioned at one point in South America how popular Two and a Half Men has become all over the world. Well, apparently Big Bang Theory, who is made by the same people, is now following suit. Not only is it on all the time, both subtitled and dubbed, but there is already a Mexican version. From what I could tell, it’s exactly like the American version – there’s a hot blonde girl and…um….I don’t know, some dudes, I guess. Other than the Spanish thing the main difference is that the guys’ t-shirts are dirtier and they all have kind of shiny hair.
In the end, though, we are happy to report, that as far as we can tell the whole joint family vacation experience was an unmitigated success (no arrests and just the one instance of gonorrhea), although we did have to withhold the final verdict until a day or two after the Dupre clan returned home and we were able to verify that, in fact, everyone they saw commented on “how brown they are”. Canadian + vacation = tan. The same way Tiger + Denny’s = Libyan Three-Way (c’mon, you didn’t think I could go an entire blog entry without at least one Tiger joke, did you?).
We are now comfortably ensconced in a great hillside apartment with a spectacular view of Lake Atitlan so next time we’ll share with you the harrowing tale of how we flew to southern Mexico, learned to say “Tapachula” with the right amount of flair just in time to leave, and had my crotch sniffed by a dog I didn’t even remember meeting. Reader discretion is advised.
Over these many months we’ve spent in Latin America it has gradually become apparent that my name simply doesn’t work in Spanish, especially over the phone – it either needs to be pronounced Day (pause) On Choan-soan, or spelled Din Yanstan, neither of which are going to get a brother laid anytime soon – so I’ve finally decided it’s time to come up with a Latino alias. I’m looking for something catchy and cool, a little bit tough but still sophisticated. Something that says “I have plenty of hair on my chest and I know what the term IPO means, but I don’t mind watching the occasional episode of Grey’s Anatomy and I never make phone calls while I’m getting a hand job”. I feel like that name is “Ken”. But let me know if you have any suggestions.