[time-lapse of eclipse, July 14, 1991, as seen from Axixic, Mexico]
[10 July 2019> As promised, we'll take a break from blogging about home improvements + our health issuses to ketch up on our archiving (for the sake of research for "SSEY'/Textiloma), picking up from when we got back from Peru in 1991, transcribed from this green journel:]
Houston > L.A.—July 3, 1991
Déjà vu in airports. An imaginary garden for my real toads. There’s a little kid down there on a ranch, unsuspecting of the humun/Dog in the sky. Hey u, look up! His life = His + mine is mio, in this 727. So many planes in the air right now, so menny ppl below are fornicating or defecating or fighting w/ spouses or stressing about a bored meeting... or being an unsuspecting kid in a field. That was me once, in a garden, in my own silent world. Picking dandelions + blowing seeds, 100s of 'em, each 1 like the whole. Dad yells cuz he doesn’t want more weeds + i look up + see a long jet trail streak across blue sky. I’ve never seen so many Russians as that wing of Lima airport, standing in line, at immigration, i was the only one toting a blue passport. Green CCCP. They eyed my hippie vest + 5 ft. panpipes i was lugging in a manta satchel. The immigration officer flipped thru my passport scrutinizing all my stamps, the Russian passports were all new + blank. They all looked like miners, all had moustaches + drank the same soft drink which i didn’t see for sale in Peru. Would have liked to talk to them but was ushered to my gate. Waited. Late. As I was boarding a dude approached + told me i couldn’t take the pan-pipes on the plane (i might whip them out + say “stick ‘em up, this is a hijack!” then start playing them like Pan the goat-god). We played Bingo and the winner got $100 [evidently on the plane, i included my scorecard]. I was reading “To Have and Have Not” while flying over Cuba + thought i saw Harry Morgan lying on his back on the deck of a boat, his insides sloshing with the swells. When i got the panpipes back in Miami, 2 of the tubes were smashed, even tho i begged them to be careful w/ them when they took them away. Not only that, the neck of my charango was broken, and also the other panpipes. I had nothing better to do than bitch at the Faucett Airline people + file a claim... hopefully I’ll get $170 if I’m persistent.
Then I holed up in a phone booth + started calling everybody. Kevin [Ulysses, in "SSEY' II] wasn’t home + mom [Penelope] was in the mountains. […] Found out i got into U of A. I read Hemingway while the late-night carpet cleaners went at it. All was clean except for the little spot where i slept on the floor. Conjured memories of sleeping on cold marble in LAX, on my layover on the way to dad’s memorial. The yellow zone is for the loading + unloading of passengers only, there is no parking the yellow zone. Went to Continental domestic at 5:00 a.m. Some band called “Big Wide World” or something like that was waiting w/ all their equipment. Poseur wanna-be rockstars. They were going to Acapulco. They grooved on my pipes. I couldn’t take them carry-on so had to relinquish them again to the evil conveyor belts. Fucking bastards. Churning metal wheels + rubber belts w/ no respect. I stuck a zillion fragile stickers all over the pipes. In Houston I got off + strolled leisurely + psychotically through the terminal to freak people out cuz I had nothing better to do but eat cajun seafood jump that wasn’t spicy enough.
I was sitting next to some funky yuppie from Florida who was an ex-electrical engineer that had lived in Brazil and Mexico. He was way into making money. I got into LAX, called Reynaldo [who i was supposed to deliver the panpipes to]. No answer. Called Kevin. Answering machine but he left his work #. Called him there but didn’t know what to say as I didn’t know what I was doing. It was 11:00. I finally got a hold of someone who said Reynaldo would be back (in Glendale) at 4. I told them to expect me to come by with the zampoñas. I went to Continental. $120 to SFO. I went to Delta, no tickets. United, no tickets. Each time standing + waiting in line. Finally got an 8:00 SJ ticket w/ American. Then i got a shuttle bus to Pasadena. I fell asleep + had that strange sensation of waking up wondering how the fuck did i get here? I was dumped off at the Hilton. I called Kev + he came by. We went to Trader Joes to get some munchies + then to his studio at the kids museum where he works now. Actually it seems like a fun job. He designs, builds + paints props. He had a huge tower thing he to make out of metal that he painted yellow + wanted to fill with 30 2x4s for his opening on July 26. The piece will cost him $600 to build. We had to load it into his truck along w/ the zampoñas. We went to Glendale + got to Reynaldo’s house right as he arrived. He was rather surprised to see the zampoñas. He invited us in + showed us his instruments + a video of Creación [the band i befriended in Cuzco] + said he would fix my zampoña. He said these guys “sugayo” may be able to fix my charango. We went to Kevin’s pad + hung out, then to LAX where i waited for my flight to San Jose.
Tucson (via Palo Alto)—July 6
I fell asleep + awoke again not knowing where the hell i was. Don’t even remember getting on the plane. The terminal was completely new to me. I asked + we were in San Jose. Called S [X, Calypso in "SSEY' II] + she was there + her + T came by to pick me up, just like the old days. Stayed up late catching up then over coffee early the next morning in the chicken coop. They have 5 little peeps that are really cute. Around noon S + I went to get sushi in downtown PA. then to granini’s. N is there was well as K + K. Mom showed up after a while + then E [cousin]+ this guy J. They were leaving for Mexico the next day to see the eclipse. So i jumped on the opportunity. Seemed destiny. Had a BBQ then called S to go to the beach (it was July 4). Went up to her place + SS was there [my ex-employer], he’s still the same pastey doughboy workaholic, M was w/ him (Vietnamese secretary)… guess they got married. We sat there eating watermelon. In the end we decided to just go to the G’s. They have a new house that was decadent but cool. It’s like a tree house 4 stories high around a central spiral staircase. Floated around in their pool + watched fireworks. S + I rented Wild at Heart + split to watch it. Great flick. Especially when they dance death metal in the desert. Next morning said adios, went to Menlo Park + ran errands. Tried to get $ but they had frozen my accounts. E + J came by around 4 pm. We went to Denny’s to meet this guy S, who was also driving down in his car. 4 people, 2 cars. Only problem is J doesn’t drive. I went w/ S, this Brit whose been in the states a while, creative writing student at SFSU. We plodded on > I-5 over the grapevine + luckily we both missed the 210 turnoff otherwise we would of been screwed. At San Bernadino we chowed at the Kettle where the ice cream was “negative,” the chowder pasty + the decaf caffeinated. At 2 a.m. had to take a break from driving. I shut my eyes for 10 minutes but woke up + S was pouring water on his face to keep himself awake. So i made him tell me stories + we rocked to the B-52s. We hit Arizona + the sun was rising at about 4:30. I bought a pink tie-dyed hat + S got a bow + arrow. E had been driving non-stop all night + was still not tired. I took over for S while he slept + we trudged on thru the increasingly hotter desert (at 4:30 a.m. it was 81°, the day before it hit 116°). After a few hours i switched over to E’s car so he could get some rest. We finally hit Tucson at around 9 a.m. + went to E’s friend M’s house. A really nice house in upper suburbia Tucson. The sky was a dark dark gray + it was actually quite cool + an occasional raindrop hit my face. We went to Denny’s + it was quite funny cuz we were complete invalids. It rained. We kept cracking up in hysterics for no particular reason. We came back + all took naps. It was hard to get up. We were thinking maybe we’d get a headstart on Mexico. But I conned everyone into leaving early the next morning, so we all took showers + are now chilling.
Axixic, Mexico—July 7
Saturday night we went out on the town in Tucson. Downtown has some strange stuff going on. We went to this funky Egyptian café + had tofu stir fries + falafel + lemonade + ginger beer. Then we walked around. There was some huge masked dude on stilts in a straw skirt, part of a troupe of Trinidadian dancers. In an empty lot of a graffiti’d alley was this white trash band playing loud raucous rock. The main drag of Broadway was lined w/ antique + art deco shops, etc. We went into this club w/ a white-washed adobe architecture. Then we watched a bad hard rock band through a cyclone fence in a dirt lot. We decided to go to bed early (11 pm). We all went back + slept on Mark’s floor even tho him + his brother weren’t around. We got up reluctantly at 4:30 am + helped ourselves to some Crunch Berries. Then headed for the border. We hit Nogales, all the border formalities, insurance, etc. went smoothly. The road from Nogales to Guaymas was a perfect 4 lane road, never saw such a nice road my whole time living here. We had our hopes up. In Guaymas we stopped + got pizza (for lack of anything else). J + S were quite funny, their initial reaction to Mexico for the 1st time, “1st encounter with natives,” they'd say. Or “oh my god, i saw a woman carrying something on her head!” Commenting on all the poverty, or how tropical it was. Coming from Peru it didn’t seem much different than the states to me. I took over driving S’s car + we went to Hermosillo, further, further south. The others had hopes of just continuing all night. I told them it wasn’t such a good idea, dangerous driving, bad road, roadside bandits, etc. [Followed by this page...]
[actual journel pages]
[Clipping about holdups on the road we were driving on]. It was getting dark and the roads were getting shitty. At some point i did the switch over to E's car and drove for him. There was lots of large slow trucks we had to pass. The headlight glare came blinding towards us, scattering off the smashed insects, only smeared by the wipers, into an insane light show. We were not making good time like before, 30-40 mph avg. We stopped at this roadside restaurant for a late dinner. We ordered quesadillas and beans for me and J (he's also veg). I subliminally noticed bags of water hanging throughout the ceiling but ignored them. Then suddenly i really noticed there were bags of water hanging from ceiling [drawing above]. They were like bags of water for holding goldfish but there was no fish. Someone suggested that maybe they were for washing the floor (quickly) when closing. Or maybe they were decoration and at one contained fish (surrealists). I think J proposed that it was a form of air-conditioning. Finally I asked... they were for keeping flies away, the waitress seemed a bit embarrassed to admit. I let it be known that i really didn’t think it was a good idea to plod on. E + J agreed but S was very reluctant. I didn’t see the point of being in such a hurry anyway. We continued on 'til we got to Mazatlán, or at least the crossroads. Found a hotel that was very expensive ($27) but no one cared, we just wanted to crash. It was a very large room w/ a huge bed big enough for 3 or 4 + a large mirror. We drew straws + E + I slept on sleeping matts on the floor.
J + I were up at 7 a.m. + had trouble getting E + S up. We split. Stopped in El Rosario + got killer huevos rancheros then plodded on 5-6 hours to Tepic (200k). Somewhere we missed the road around Tepic + had to go right thru the center. S was beginning to piss me off. 1st he pulled over for gas + didn’t check to see if E had followed. It was a hectic crossroads full of vendors, people switching busses + trucks full of military police. But no E. The gas was pumped + we split to catch up to them. But i imagine he was trying to catch us. We drove at suicidal speeds trying to catch up. An hour or 2 later we finally saw them behind a bunch of trucks. But then they passed + lost us. Finally we caught up. But in Tepic S would make a wrong turn then do these maniacal pissed-off 180s in the road, skidding around corners (+ E would have to follow). He went thru 3 red lights + kept losing E. Once when we had to stop, i said “I’ll drive” + went to the driver’s said, but he said no in a pissed off way. Whatever. After i asked directions. We got out of Tepic. S then slams on the brakes + says “OK, you drive.” So i drove. The rain was getting worse + the road was full of massive potholes everywhere. We got to Tequila. It was all flooded + causing traffic to back up. Even if there was no trucks to pass we couldn’t have gone over 30 or 40 because of the potholes. The rain just smeared on S’s windshield. Truck after truck after bus large smelly, diesel, ugly + loud things. But the diesel hum/smell is so nostalgic.
We hit a toll road option + we took it. It was a really nice road devoid of traffic, 4 lanes, brand new. But seems they forgot to have engineers inspect the roadside cliffs cuz there was erosion + landslides everywhere, rocks all over the road. At one point we saw a huge rock dislodge + come tumbling down onto the road in a huge avalanche that we barely missed. E behind us. It was eerie, this nice abandoned new road covered w/ rocks + occasional stream or waterfall pouring onto the road. Then to top it off we hit the toll plaza + they charged us 20,000 pesos ($7), to go just 30-40 km. Whatever. So we diverged back onto the regular road. The road got better a little before Guad. Then around the periferico + the nostalgia started setting in. Though things were very different in the 8 or 9 yrs since i lived here. There was a big AT&T plant, new overpasses, etc. Then we hit the big 6 lane road to Chapala + i was high as a kite, what a rush. The same road we used to drive to school every morning early w/ all the same smells, the smokey haze of the brick makers, the petrol cans burning from the road crew. The flooded swamps w/ horses. We flew by up the hill to Chapala. And there it was [the lake], the brilliant metallic grays + blues. Twilight. The lake low, the sky full of clouds. And then we were going under the large trees of La Floresta + making the familiar turn onto the suddenly peaceful + mellow cobblestone streets of Axixic. Yes! The plaza had been totally remodeled. But it still had the same feeling. The streets were dead. Almost a ghost town. Most everybody has split to the states. A ways back i guessed we’d get there at 6:42. We pulled in at exactly 6:42. Mom was on the roof doing her usual thing, yelling at us as we parked. I was very excited but seemed alone in my emotion. A + A [cousin + his girlfriend] were already here. They got food poisoning the night before they left R + G’s house + were hating life. Everything in the house is almost the same except for the lemon tree mostly died + the whole front part—my old bedroom—has been sanctioned off into Francisco’s store. It has the same damp smell. Canela [the cat] in the garden.
We took showers + hit the streets to find food but everything was dead. The pier now has a restaurant on it + the lake is so low you can barely see it from the old shore. We ended up, after much walking about, at the place near the plaza that used to have pozole but has since changed ownership. And now i don’t eat meat so all the things that used to seem yummy are no longer appetizing. We strolled after dinner looking for the disco. Closed down. Got some frozen Gansitos at Serenas (who is remodeling his store) + befriended a dog who followed us home + into the house where he/she made itself at home.
[courtyard of our old house in Axixic]
Axixic, July 11, 1991 (1:30 a.m.)
Woke up late + just had to do the breakfast thing. Everybody else was asleep. I went out + bought eggs, potatoes, fixings for salsa etc. Then S + i went to get tortillas. He was snapping pictures in every doorway + every cobblestone, really annoying. Stopped at B’s hotel but he wasn’t around. But then i ran into him anyway, “fancy meeting you here.” Weird to see him in Axixic [B is my ex's godfather]. This is all a trip, a confluence of nostalgia. I hardly even recognized B he’s so skinny, healthy + happy. J is w/ him + nothing like i remember her—14-yr old semi-Californian w/ a tie-dye T-shirt even. So much for the prissy + anal little east coast child.
S + i then hit the old tortilleria... love that place, still trips me up. Like a huge tortilla-churning organism. In back the smoking corn crusher, they pour dried corn + water + lye + out comes the gooey dough. Then that is taken to the spout of the machine in an undulating mass of masa [drew picture of it]. Long lines of women + children waiting for tortillas to come off 1 by 1. The life blood of the town. I spent so many hours waiting in this line, still churning after all these years. Humming + squeaking + creating an unbearable heat in the building. Went back + made 1 of my grand ritualistic breakfasts, blasting tunes in the kitchen. B + J came over. S, A + A decided to go to Guadalajara + the rest of us except mom went to San Juan Cosala + soaked our bones in the hot springs. Played ball games + did acrobatics off the high dive. Then we went to Jocotepec to look for the perfect pair of huaraches. We didn’t find them but strolled around + got quesadillas. Later, when the others came back, we went out to look for excitement but didn’t really find it. Everywhere was dead. We finally went to “Tu Lugar” + played “I am a pervert.”… you take 10 pieces of paper in your hand under the table so others can’t see, then go around every 1 asking perverted questions, “have u ever farted while someone was performing oral sex on you,” “peed on anyone,” etc. And each time the answer is yes you drop a piece of paper. The 1st to drop 10 pieces has to say “I am a pervert.” We played twice + E was the pervert both times, S was always 2nd… + A + I were always the prudes left still w/ most of our paper. Some guy named Mike sat our table + decided to sing us songs. He was very drunk + melodramatic + not so good. When we went home our dog was waiting for us at the door, so we let him in + gave him a bunch of chicken + she went to sleep on the couch. Yesterday we went into Chapala, the 6 of us squashed in 1 car. We went to the market then one of those lakeside restaurants, tho nothing is really “lakeside” anymore the lake is so low. It’s gone down from 6,000 sq meter to 2,000 sq m in 20 years. We ate charales + drank beer + even had a 10-piece mariachi band serenade us, really romantic as we watched a storm roll in off the lake.
On the way back i had them drop me at La Floresta so i could see what the story w/ B [an old school friend from when i lived there] was. This woman answered, ended up it was B’s stepdad’s new wife + seemed somewhat irked at the mention of B and her mom. Then i stopped by T’s [gay father of G, who i lost my virginity to]. He told me B had joined the army, got married, got divorced and was now living in Florida. G was still into working at abortion clinics + dates women now. T himself is building trippy houses. It was fun talking + reminiscing w/ him. L [another friend from that time period] is coming on Sunday so maybe i should stick around for that. Back at the house the others were just leaving for Jocotepec. This guy Pepe (who of course knew me when i was a little kid + also remembers E + A) came by w/ peyote buds in his hand. We all passed them around looking at them, but he couldn't get anyone to partake. He was gonna play guitar at Tu Lugar that night + said we shd come. The others went to Jocotepec + mom + i went to see if we could find A.A. [mother of best friend from my Mexico days]. Knocked on her door, no answer. Inside i could see the bed was stripped and everything barren. The guy next door said she had gotten into a car accident, flipped it, and as a result was going blind in one eye so had to go back to Texas. Then we went to San Juan Cosala to see if we cd find H [distant cousin on my dad’s side]. He wasn’t around. I’m sure E [great aunt] was but he has to lock her in when he’s not around. We went back to try to find B. J was at the hotel but B had gone to Mamas. So mom + i went to Mamas. B was there w/ some other strange people including this cute young woman, T, who it ends up is Bo Didley’s daughter. She too is a musician + wanted us to come by and see her the next night. H walked up to me + i recognized him but couldn’t place where, it’s been so long + he’s changed so much. My great aunt’s grandson, so guess that makes us 3rd cousins. It was all a trip, being w/ all these relatives + old acquaintances, my ex-girlfriends godfather (B), a distant cousin on dad’s side + Bo Diddley’s daughter... all in Axixic, waiting for an eclipse. We had a few drinks then went over to Tu Lugar. Met some funny man George Ochoa who wore tight white pants + thin moustache, reminded me of the guy in Honeymoon Killlers. He was the bartender at Tu Lugar. Very funny, extremely drunk (he drank all his “mistakes”) + played terrible songs for us. Pepe showed up, telling my new friends stories from when i was bien chiquito, and how he used to swim across Lake Chapala, which triggered flashbacks like we'd heard these folktales before. He brought a harmonica, so we jammed. He’s really good, can play blues, rock, or mariachi music. I played along on maracas + claves + after a few drinks took up the harmonica. Then the others showed up, M + B, both from Tucson, which is cool [M + B were key figures to how we’d end up meeting our bedder-½]. We spent the rest of the night the 8 of us at this huge table, Pepe playing cool songs on his guitar + then J. He’s excellent + has a good voice. T came in + sang a few songs, her voice is good, no surprise as she is Bo Diddley’s daughter. Some dude name J M kept buying us drinks, he told me he was a friend of T’s [our mother’s main boyfriend after my dad] + reminding us that he was the person we needed to know, he was the law of Axixic... very strange macho trip.
[waiting for the eclipse, yours truly on the chimney of our old room]
Today was the big day… the culmination + logical end to my “trip”. I started July 15, 1990 + now it was July 14, 1991. Eclipse as ultimate metaphor to signal in the end of this year-long odyssey. I go to Axixic (where i came of age) + the sun (son) is eclipsed. The sun as father figure, both life + death. The light is blocked off prematurely before sun set, at 1:15 pm, aged 50, mid-day. And Axixic was the most logical place to witness it. The eclipse i saw in Oregon [February 26, 1979… the last 1 in the U.S. until the recent 1 in 2017] was just a premonition, how it was overcast then, clouded over so we never really "saw" it. Death shrouded in mystery. When i 1st woke up this morning the sky was full of dark clouds, but my will was not broken. I had faith it would clear. It only made sense, it had to. There was a lot of anxiety in the air all morning, everyone worried they’d come all this way to not see it, besides the darkness. We were all running around preparing. We had plenty of shades to view the partial phases + M had a telescope that he had set up. It was incredible, even before the eclipse you could see the sun in it’s full glory, with sunspots + everything. This was the cast: me, Mom, A, A, E, S, J, M, B, B, J + H. Strange group, cousins on my dad’s side, godfather of my ex, friends form Palo Alto + future friends that i’m sure to have in Tucson (M + B) where i'm moving next [i was accepted to U of A starting that fall semester, studying solar physics]. Definitely a heavy transitional period for me. All brought together by this eclipse. We had the TV set up so we could watch the broadcasts from Hawaii and Baja as the eclipse had already hit there. The skies cleared up. Around 11:15 the sun went partial. You could see it beautifully thru the telescope. It gradually got more + more covered. The lighting became surreal, the wind was picking up + the shadows were tripping us out. I made a pinhole camera so we could see the image. We walked around the garden + courtyard looking at the natural “pinhole cameras” …. the tree shadows crescents, rather than circular images we take for granted as sun images. It was getting dark in a very surreal way, kind of like fluorescent lighting. The shadows were psychedelic. It made me feel funny. The words “weird” + “strange” were floating around, everyone in their own worlds taking it in. It was about all anyone could say. An undescribable feeling. The crescents become slivers. The shadows of the moon became more gradual than we expected. Supposedly it traveled a few 1000 miles an hour. The sky above us was perfectly clear, there were clouds around the rims of the mountains of the lake but not near the sun. We were lucky cuz the TV said all over Mexico was cloudy. The image is so profound, we were on a lake surrounded by mountains. There was a ring of clouds along the horizon and above was a clear hole with the sun smack dead in the center.
[pinholed slivers on cobblestones]
The western horizon darkened incredibly fast. The crescent waned into “Bailey beads”—the last bits of light bleeding thru the imperfections, mountains + valleys of the moon. The eastern horizon looked like a sunset, twilight. And then it happened. FULL SOLAR ECLIPSE. There was a huge fucking sphere in the sky blocking the sun. I was pumped w/ adrenalin, my heart racing, it was a rush. Emotions fighting rationality. An atmosphere that fights intuition, disrupts regular programming of day/night. It was unbelievable. A huge black hole w/ a brilliant corona flying off the edges. [followed by numerous photos, newspaper clippings inserted, even our eclipse glasses which we used again in 2017 to watch that 1] Through the telescope you could see the solar flares—bright red plumes of gas trying to escape into space. The roosters were crowing, the mosquitoes were out and the neighbors parrots were freaking out. B was chanting Tibetan + Islamic chants (tho he’s Jewish), “allah akbar, allah akbar”. Everyone was walking around in a daze going “whoa” + “weird”. The lighting was ethereal, about as bright as during a full moon. The stars came out, stars we usually don’t see in winter. Jupiter, Venus + Mercury were all out + lined up perfectly in axis w/ the corona. It lasted 5 or 6 minutes, seemed long enough.
Then it all happened in reverse, the light crept back. Baily Heads + the western horizon became twilight while darkness swept eastward. I went down into the garden. All the shadows were especially surreal there, like infrared photography. There was a motion afoot to go to the beach, to the lake. On the way were trees w/ unbelievable crescent shadows, the same pattern over + over. At the lake some women in black were dancing around a shrine they had built, lighting incense, etc. Otherwise most people didn’t seem too interested. People would come out of doorways + just look up like they were being inconvenienced, the same look you might give to a dark cloud on the horizon. No one else on their rooftops like we were. Just these freaky new age witches down on the shore. And there was a guy flying around in an ultralight, he must have been high as a kite. M + i did handstands + i drew solar pictures in the sand while the sun was still a crescent. It should be fun to get all the “recordings” of the event. M has a super 8 camera + was filming a lot. B had a large telephoto lens w/ a welding filter + other accessories for viewing the sun. We recorded ourselves on audio. Funny to listen back. Then i cooked a massive feast, so big that i had to cook it in 2 shifts cuz the wok couldn’t hold anymore. Afterwards everybody felt tired. I guess eclipses are emotionally draining. We all crawled off to our respective areas + crashed. I went up to the roof w/ B. I remember waking up + there was a chicken pecking around right next to B’s head. I don’t know where the chicken came from. Everyone else was just waking up + we had coffee tho it was the afternoon. It was like waking up from a long dream.
That night all of us decided to look for excitement. First we went to Big Mamas, i went w/ A + J + the others met us later. We had a huge table, the kind that seems to get sectioned off into groups, we were there cuz T [Bo Diddley’s daughter] told us to come by to watch her sing. Some older guy was w/ her that looked like Bo Diddley himself. She came in w/ her nerdy friends, the ones she said were managers of “video experts” but who looked like 16 yr-old geeky gringos. When she finally did sing it was w/ a microphone to pre-recorded music. She was horrible. Shitty Janet Jackson like pop music w/ stupid lyrics. “I’m an animal on the prowl, growLLLL.” A [fellow Bay Area goth-punk who i sold my record collection to before going on my world trip] + i were having a hard time not cracking up it was so painfully cliché. We decided to hit Jocotepec. 6 of us packed in the Honda (A + A stayed home). Sly's was closed. Everything dead. So we returned. The next day we went to Guadalajara after a colossal breakfast. I said goodbye to B + J as they were off to Mexico City that night. It was good to see him, the reformed East Coast lawyer turned hippie liberal. We had to take 2 cars to Guad. I went w/ E, A + A… a big mistake as the others didn’t know where to go. We got into Guad + lost M, B + J in traffic. Major traffic jams. Finally i just jumped out + ran around on foot to where we last saw them, about 12 blocks up Independencia. I gave up + returned to the parking garage where i was supposed to meet back up, but they weren’t there. So i walked around a bit + decided the cathedral seemed the most logical place people would go to meet back up. I didn’t find them at first + was starting to think i would have to take the bus back. Finally i found the twins + A behind the church at the exact same time as the others found us. All together. We walked through Plaza Tapatio + the other tourist areas. We hung around in the plaza while some made calls home on the intl pay phones. We headed over to Libertad market. It was weird seeing all these places as a tourist, a lot has changed in the decade since i went to school here. And it was weird having a car as i only knew my way around on busses. In Libertad i searched for huaraches + found the perfect pair… literally 100s of stalls of huaraches. I met up w/ E + we both bought chess sets. Then i got dozens of stupid dolls for mom to sell at Folk Art Intl. Everybody saw my huaraches + decided they all needed pairs too so i took them to where i bought them, the same old lady... made her day.
We went back to the cathedral + took a peak in now that mass wasn’t in session. Not so impressive. We had gross greasy snacks in some restaurant then headed back, this time i went in the other car to show them the way. We were supposed to be having a BBQ w/ H when we came back but he flaked so we ate stir-fry + drank cheap wine. I donned a matador hat + we all went to the Posada. It seemed boring so we thought we’d try the Nuevo Posada. Even more so, bunch of gringo fuddy-duddies. So we walked all the way to El Camino Real on the dark cobblestone streets. The disco was closed. Only open on Saturday + Sunday. We walked back along the horse racing track, then resorted to the Posada. They had this weird karaoke/open mic set up. At first we were intimidated cuz the Mexicans were really good singers. And for some reason they didn’t want us to order drinks. Finally we got our drinks + saw some bad singers make fools of themselves so got up the courage to make fools of ourselves. Most of the songs were in Spanish, the best we could find in English was The Beatles or Patsy Cline. Then some horrible band played, sounded like Julio Iglesias. Lots of lemon daquiris + dark beer + they kicked us out, but we snuck back in + stuck our 2 chess boards together to play team chess. Then we smoked a joint, first time for me in like 7 years. Of course M + B took mom up on her offer when she offered them some. I only had a few hits + it didn’t do much. The game went on late into the early morning. Now i sit in the morning sun in the courtyard. The turtle appeared. Still living here after all these years. This garden is his/her own little world, since i found it on the street 10+ years ago. The sun feels nice. Jasmine tea. Bruce Springsteen “Nebraska” blaring from the boombox. Lush green plants, a peeling paint job that still has my name signed on the chimney above my old room.
[last supper poseurs]
Axixic — July 15
Our original plan was to leave Saturday morning to the beach. Friday night we said hey let’s chill + leave Sunday. Saturday night we said hey let’s chill more + leave Monday. We had to leave Monday. M + B had to be back in Tucson for work. Saturday was lost trying to organize things. Some wanted to go fly the ultralite, J wanted to go play soccer. Others wanted to ride horses + others wanted to hike up to the waterfall, or combinations of these things. But none of us really got our act together to day anything. We hit H’s house to find out if the BBQ was still on + where we could rent ultralights. He was sleeping but the maid let us in. It was weird cuz i’d been in this house under different ownership, a vague recollection of BBQing on the back porch + swimming in the black bottom pool, but couldn’t remember whose house it used to be. E [my great aunt] lives in the house next door. She didn’t recognize me, when H said “this is Doc’s grandson.” She said “who’s Doc” + he said Leicester [my grandfather, her brother]. Totally senile. It was very uncomfortable, kind of like “ok then, well, bye now.” We went back to the Nueva Posada + found out where this dude Patrick lives. We went to his house but he wasn’t home. So E + M + i said “fuck it. No more screwing around, this here car is going up to the waterfall.” The rest went to check out the soccer field + rent horses. We drove up as far as we could then walked. It was amazing how what used to seem like a major hike was like a 10 minute stroll. This is it? First the man-made waterfall then the 2nd + 3rd. There was lots of trash, lots of people on Saturday outings + the river was mucky. We went right by where we planned to swim as there was too many people around to skinny dip + we didn’t bring swimsuits. We decided to cut over + descend upon the other side, blazing a new trail. We ended up in some corn field at the bottom, never finding the chapel.
Later on, after siesta, we went to Jocotepec. Big night on the town. In 2 cars. H was w/ us. He’s quite funny, middle-aged + balding going on 22. Get loose man. Reborn. Supposedly he was a total type-A guy workaholic in Sacramento then to Axixic + now he’s all hippie + chill. We hit the plaza 1st + did a few orbits. B was totally into the concept, girls clockwise, guys counterclockwise, free to scam all you want. You could stare all you want + girls were flirting w/ us. He coerced me into stopping at this bench of girls, one of them was quite pretty, looked a bit like L [1 of the"chicas diosas" i hung out with in Lima]. I acted as a translator until he started asking questions like “would you like to come back to my house?” H, E, A + J were busy at the shooting gallery. We went to “Sly”. A, A + M were already there. It was the full on flashy disco w/ close encounters of the 3rd kind lighting + music so loud the bass distorted into a throbbing hum. It was very dark + full of tables of young men w/ dress shirts opened up to their hairy chests covered w/ gold chains. There weren’t that many girls. I danced w/ A for a while but she wasn’t into it much. So then J + I said fuck it + started dancing together up there, major breech of customs as we were the only same-sex couple, everyone else dancing very conservatively. M came up + said they needed my translating services. Some pretty girl was trying to tell them she needed 2 volunteers to be judges + M + B volunteered, for the bikini contest. Strange. There were only 4 contestants. 2 of them seemed professional but the other 2 were just random girls from the audience. Actually they wanted A to be in it but she said no way. One of the girls was chubby + embarrassed. It was embarrassing just watching them. The guys were yelling + hooting, throwing insults at the chubby girl. B + M were funny, they were taking it all very seriously, scrutinizing the girls like art connoisseurs. Afterwards we kept dancing, most of us. One of the waiters was carrying cold beer onto the dance floor + pouring it down our throats + all over us. I must have had 2 free beers poured down my throat + another poured over my head. I was dancing about w/ E when this pretty girl came up + started dancing w/ me. Then she disappeared. Around 12 p.m. the sheriff came in toting shotguns + rifles, 4 of them. All the bars in Joco close at 12 cuz of the violence + people getting shot.
The next day (after deciding yet again to stay another day)(following the wisdom of E’s bumper sticker, “have another day”) we got a late start to San Juan Cosala. I dropped E + B off + took his car to hunt down L [old friend i had a crush on], following the vague instructions T gave me. I found her lounging in hammocks w/ her friends like something out of a Fellini-filmed Benson + Hedges ad. We chewed the fat for a while. She’s studying theatre in Vera Cruz, promotes bands + sings in a band of her own. She wasn’t into going to Los Baños so we agreed to meet later. I went to Los Baños + everyone was there. Had fun then went back. L was supposed to be there at 8 or 9 but she wasn’t so we left a note + went + chowed at some dive. L showed up late w/ her friend. I’ve always spoken Spanish w/ L so it was weird when she busted out in perfect English. She said my Spanish was better than it used to be, guess 2 months in South America helped. Then suddenly i got very uncomfortable. It just seemed weird, all this stuff coming back to me, converging. We were talking about the American School + it all me realize how much i’ve changed. On top of that i asked how K was only to discover that he died of AIDS 2 months before. It blew my mind. Ol’ K, the Billy Idol poseur… not that i was particularly fond of him. We’d always assumed he was gay, but weird way to verify our suspicions. Supposedly his mom disowned him when she found out + he went to L.A., got AIDS + died, alone in a trailer.
This morning i was up early, everybody was still asleep so i decided to walk around. I was feeling sort of depressed. This was one of the first times walking around town by myself. Everything was coming back to me. The lake was beautiful. I went back to the house + everybody was still asleep or lazing about. Definitely wouldn’t be an early start. Once we were ready (A, E, A + J were also leaving for Patzcuaro) we went for a nice last breakfast. Even our dog came w/ us. By the time we came back it was past 12. Mom was going back to San Fran + needed a ride to the airport. We said our goodbye’s + split. Dropped mom off then continued on. These roads are insane, huge potholes everywhere. Right now we are going thru Magdalena, with its backed-up traffic + hectocity.
So we stopped for a roadside meal. We were lured by the loud sound of this band emanating from the restaurant, slammed on the brakes + did a U-ie. In the restaurant were tables full of large families on Sunday outings. Everybody eating seafood + drinking beer. There was a large band of drums + trumpets + tubas, very loud. They were playing bullfight music + twisted polkas + general raunchy music to get drunk to. We ordered 12 shrimp empanadas then watched this table of macho men do tequila poppers, the waiter would pour a shot w/ soda then slam it down hard three times then hand it to them while it’s still fizzing + they of course throw it back acting all macho. Then there was a commotion at the table next to us + this guy pulls out a large gun + points it at this other guy’s belly. They were totally wasted. The guy who had a gun pointed at him looked like he’d already been in a fight, cuts on his face + shirt covered w/ blood stains. Their table was littered w/ shrimp shells, salsa splatterings, tequila bottles, blood + barf. The guy with the gun was pissed + meant business. The waiter tried to reason w/ him + managed to lead him outside. Everyone in the restaurant was mellow about it, like they see this sort of shit every day. Children looked over + made jokes about the guy pointing the gun. The band played on. Eventually they all hugged in a drunken stupor all melodramatically, todo bien, todo bien. The guy put his gun away + the waiter came + brought them drinks. 10 minutes later the same dude pulled out his gun again + waved it around yelling then put it away. Then the guy w/ the bloody shirt went to another table + started picking fights. We decided to bail. I drove most of the late afternoon + evening in hectic headlights + twilight. We got into Mazatlán around 10 pm. Oh the beautiful steamy hot air of the night, the dark ocean, pretty beachy girls + the happening strip. After checking out a few places that were full we went to the Bel Mar—where i always seemed to stay except the last time i was here w/ S. We checked in, took showers then went to grind [what we used to call eating in the 90s]. Total dive. We entered + all the staff was sitting around drinking beer. We asked for mineral water or soda but they didn’t have any, pura cerveza. As if we were pussies for even asking. Ok, what about food. She looked around all haughty not making eye contact w/ us. “Mariscos.” Ok, que tipo? “Pues, camaron…” she got distracted + walked off, mumbling. Ended up they had a fish in the refrigerator, but only 1. But they might be able to go catch another. Another guy ran + got some squid that was already cooked, as if someone had ordered it + never ate it. He told me to try it. It had all the guts + everything, cooked whole. Whatever, we’ll take it all, the fish, shrimp + squid. He squeezed some lemon on the squid + just left it. Then did the same w/ a plate of pre-cooked shrimp. Then a fried fish. No veggies. No rice. M kept saying how weird he felt + how weird the food was, that it was like eating a plate of aliens. And they tried every means possible to rip us off, charging us for this + that until i said estan locos pendejos, no estamos stupido + they mellowed out. [beer labels pasted in]
We walked to the cliffs. It was high tide + the waves were really smashing dramatically on the rocks. Rats + cockroaches were running around everywhere. It was all trippy, considering all the different contexts I’d been to Mazatlán, including living here when i was too young to remember. Our room is so big we can play soccer in it. We also entertain ourselves by throwing this little ball into the ceiling fan + then ducking as it gets flung around the room. This morning i woke + they were sleeping so i went down to the ocean + chilled then we went + had breakfast at the Copa de Leche. We had high hopes of hitting the beach but when we got to the car we discovered a leak of green radiator goo coming from the water pump. We figured we’d try to get it to a mechanic. We drove it a couple of blocks then it started blowing steam + smoke. We pulled off to the side. Now the leak was really gushing green day-glo goo. After asking around we ended up at some guys truck who took us to the radiator place. It was decided we’d push the car there. It was a long 1 or 2 km push, we were sweating mad men by the time we got there. We showed them the leak + they shook their heads looking all puzzled when they saw it was a Subaru. They didn’t have Subaru’s in Mexico. They said some guy across the road might be able to help us. I went to get him. He was working out of this dirt lot w/ rusty, oily parts everywhere. He came + looked + decided we had to get it across the road. It was a large hectic 6-lane road. I tried to stop traffic but nobody paid attention. M drove across w/ a horrible grinding noise, spitting steam + idle Mexican guys sat around laughing + pointing at us. He was directed to park under the shade of a tree + they guy went to get his tools + his friend. They came back + began dismantling the radiator. We offered them water but they laughed + said “pura cerveza!” Evidently real men don’t drink water, just beer. He drank from his beer w/ ice in it, so we gave him shit for putting ice in his beer, that that was water. He said we could use beer as antifreeze. All this while he efficiently dismantled the engine. He splayed the parts all over the road + talked about his marital problems to his friend. When they got the pump out the wheel thing going into it was all munched + had ground down to the metal. The fan-belt connected to the pump had also broke in crossing the street. Then they sent us on a mission to the Datsun dealer to get a Subaru bomba. I enlightened M + B as to the meaning of "chingadera" as we waited around for this bus which was like a crowded sauna. We did find the place but they laughed at us when we asked for a Subaru part. Guess our mechanic thought all Japanese cars were the same. They didn’t have Subaru chingaderas. We compared it w/ Datsun pumps + they were way different. Then we discovered we didn’t have any money, not even for the bus. So we wandered around looking for a bank that would give us money on Mastercard, but were unsuccessful, tho we did manage to change $20 in travelers cheques that B had. M phoned home collect + told his family to send a pump pronto. Then we went back to the car, took the boogie board out + pushed it a few blocks to some sketchy garage w/ 2 horses that viciously tried to bite us. We walked to pizza hut + got pizza to go. It was sprinkling. I jumped into the ocean. There was a strong undertow. We ate the pizza on the beach. Then we drew peace signs, a giant eclipse. Then I tried more boogie-boarding but the undertow was too gnarly. The girl from Ipanema walked by. Took the bus back. Watched the sun set + were befriended by a group of people from Durango who were intrigued by us, especially the girls. They were psychotically over-friendly. Now were hanging out, trying to save money, not going out, though were now sitting in the infamous Copa de Leche.
It’s been exactly a year now since i left on my world trip…. what a long strange trip it’s been. And now I’m going “home” to my new home. I’m in Mazatlán, where i used to live when i was 2. It’s all regression + progression in cycles. I just figured out some statistics... i’ve slept in 115 different beds this past year + also a pool table, taken 22 plane flights, 36 bus rides (long distance, not including city busses), 11 trains, 21 boat trips (of major distance), 1500 km on bike, driven 13 different cars, hitch-hiked 15 rides (of major distance), hired a few jeeps + taxis, lots of walking, hitched a ride on a tugboat.
Life is tough now that we’ve broken down in Mazatlán. Looks like we just might have to chill on the beach + wait + drink lots of cheap beer to forget about our problemas.
[M's broken down Subaru + our tree-shade mechanic]
[hanging con los mecanicos]
M called home the next morning to see what was up w/ the bomba chingadera. It was on a plane that would arrive at 5:30 pm. Yee haw! I grabbed my stick + hit the ocean. The waves were small but still fun. M joined me until we noticed raw sewage floating about + jellyfish. So we bailed + went to the market to get licuados + tacos. Then hopped another bus to the beach near Valentines. It was sunny + the waves were swell. They were tubing at the point. I swam out + waited w/ dozens of Mexican surfer dudes. The first set came + they came flying at me. They were all bitching + fighting with eachother for cutting in on waves, etc. So i didn’t even attempt to go out where they were on my measly boogie-board. M + i went to the gringoville resorts + body-surfed there. They did tacos for lunch + i got ceviche at the market. B siesta’d while M + i went to the aeropuerto on the bus.
At the ticket counter they told us to wait, the plane was late. Then they told us to go to baggage claim. The baggage claim people said our bomba wasn’t there, started calling around on walkie-talkies. They told us to go the cargo department, a little shack outside the airport. They also said it wasn’t there + asked around more, then finally they found it, but we had to do all this B.S. paperwork + they told us we could pick it up tomorrow at customs. I said no way. He said talk to the customs people back at the airport. I bitched until he got the jefe. He said we needed to pay taxes but they didn’t have a cashier + they weren’t in a position to give it to us. He didn’t care that it was just a water pump, a hunk of metal worth nothing to anyone else. For some reason he had a large stack of Domino pizza hats at the desk (they don’t have Domino’s in Mexico). We’d just have to go downtown the next morning. Whatever. Got the airport bus back to Los Sabalos. The sun was setting over Valentines. We hopped another bus to Olas Altas. I had a grand time standing in the stairwell watching the sunset. Mazatlan has a bunch of beautiful girls, tho most of them look cheap, all dressed up even for a bus ride. We decided to go out in style that night + just put it on credit cards. First stop was Mamukas, best mariscos in el moondough... exquisite paella, lobster, shrimp, oysters, garlic, lemon, chili… all washed down w/ XX. We started walking towards Frankie Ho’s. Long walk, 3 miles or so, but nice along the boardwalk. We got to Señor Frogs + it was packed, inside + out, hundreds of dressed up people, not our scene. Frankie Ho’s had some hokey mariachi band + was charging 15,000 just to get in. Money we just didn’t have. Girls in line smiled at us until they saw we were too poor to get in. We kept walking. Some guy befriended us, he said his name (Ho-el) but he just kept calling him Homey. He seemed drunk + lonely. We got to Valentino’s, the disco over the ocean w/ a large artificial waterfall + lasers + lights flashing. The cover charge was 20,000. But Homey said he could get us in free cuz he was Policia or his father was chief of police or some such thing. We all had shorts + T-shirts on (+ me in my huaraches) + they wouldn’t let us in. Ended up it was mainly Homey’s tank-top that bothered them, so he bought a random T-shirt from a vendor, flashed his badge + then men w/ headsets + walkie-talkies ushered us under the velvet rope, while everyone in line looked all annoyed. Valentino’s has lots of flashing lights + lasers + really loud music, lots of dressed up girls in groups. We got Homey a beer which was 6,000 pesos. There was no shortage of girls to dance with, one in particular, G from D.F. was lots of fun, danced w/ her 3 or 4 times. She was the only girl that smiled + whose feet actually left the ground. We also danced w/ 2 bimbos from L.A. whose boyfriends were uptight + didn’t dance. Homey was acting strange, at one point the waiter said we’d have to leave but Homey reassured us all was well. It was a fun + weird night. At one point they had this bizarre sound + light show. The dancefloor is made of glass + extends out over the water + you can watch the waves crashing on the rocks below.
We had to get up at 9 a.m. to go to customs, they gave us wrong directions but we found it. They directed us to a room + there was the box. We said yah! The guy seemed annoyed + said “it won’t be so easy” then sent us to see the Jefe. We explained we werent’ selling the chingadera, that we needed it to fix our car so we could get the fuck out of there. And they don’t have Subarus in Mexico anyway. He wanted us to get a written statement saying “No hay Subarus en Mexico” + get it notarized. Then he sent us on a mission to get a copy of M’s passport, explaining you just have to do so when we asked por que. We copied M's passport, then waited patiently for an hour + a ½ [at which point the journel ran out of pages, but i continued it on an inserted sheet...]
It was really surreal in the customs office, everything in a state of disarray. No one watered the plants that I’m sure were an $8000 write-off. There were folders of papers that I’m sure hadn’t been looked at for 10 years. There were a dozen or so pompous fat men coming in + out, doing nothing in particular, trying to look busy. Our dude sent his secretary off to type up this B.S. document about basically how we swear to just put the pinche bomba in our car + get the hell out of Mexico, but it took 10 pages to say all this, w/ all this legal jargon in Spanish, all very Kafkaesque. Or Borgesian. On the shelf was an “Enciclopedia de terminología técnica.” I was ruminating philosophically on all these docs + wondering what would become of ours when finally he came back in, he wanted M to sign a few more papers. I looked over + M was crashed, fully horizontal on the vinyl couch. He looked up sleepily + mindlessly signed his name at least 5 times. Then we waited longer while they did more paperwork. By the time they were done, the stack of papers was as thick as a book. We took it to the room to get the package. Yah!
We chowed desayuno at 1 pm then took the chingadera bomba back to the mecanico. We had to push the car on the shoulder into oncoming traffic on the busiest road in Mazatlán until it was properly situated in the shade of our mechanics favorite tree. Full on tree-shade mechanic. Hot as hell. Our guy got his tools ready + sent for beer + ice. He did a rad job, didn’t rip us off. Included in the price was spicy shrimp soup which we ate straight out of a plastic tub, along w/ 10 or so other greasy mechanics. Consuming large quantities of beer in this empty lot. After dealing with more bureaucratic hassles, renewing our insurance (since it expired cuz of our delay) we’re finally off. Listening to the Grateful Dead (M + B are total deadheads) + it’s dark + i can’t see what I’m writing. What a long strange trip it’s been. [at which point the journel ends… not sure if we covered this in our next journel, which i’ll transcribe in the future if i can find it, but we went to Tucson after that, where M + B were from + where i just happened to have enrolled for the fall semester at U of A. Thru M + B i met J (a.k.a. Nausicaa), our bedder-½ + the rest is history...]
[next journal—Tucson, fall of 1991]