I am heading to our 8:30am appointment minus Alma. Her plane still hasn’t left Mexico City according to the internet – and according to the heavy fog hanging overhead.
I hurry down the main street. It is early for Mazatlan, there is hardly any traffic yet and foot traffic is almost negligible.
As I walk, I am making plans to spend that $50 u.s I’ve been promised - perhaps filling up the diesel tank after buying some avocados and mangos - and to rush back in time to meet Alma at the Holiday Inn, should her plane take off.
And to write about this experience. I hate resorts, not to mention high pressure sales pitches, the buffett will be full of food I shouldn’t and don’t want to eat, and so much of my time taken up by this excursion to where rich people have their moments of superiority.
A tiny old man, about as big as my daughter when she was 12, approaches me, his bright, white smile contrasting beautifully with his vibrant dark skin. He is dressed in perfectly creased latte brown chinos and a starched white immaculate long sleeved shirt, his head tilted almost at right angles to the side as he balances with one hand on his shoulder, a large heavy tray covered with a bumpy cloth.
“Donut?” the perfect English sounds incongruous with his melodious buenas dias senora, as he points with his other hand to the covered cloth tray perched on his shoulder. I politely say buenas dias señor and no gracias and we share a warm, sugary smile.
I see Fernando across the street, waiting for me. He asks me if I have different shoes to wear. I look at him and then my veggie-oil stained shoe laces and worn sneakers as I tell him firmly no.
He pushes me into a taxi, which is really an open 4 seater golf cart with a canopy, as he gives me quick, last minute lie instructions to give the people at the resort: tell them I live in the apartments behind Ricos, my coffee shop; don’t tell them I have an RV; don’t tell them my friend’s plane couldn’t land, tell them I’m a teacher and make $30,000 a year. Show them my credit cards.
I am in the cab praying to the traffic goddesses. I can’t believe I am at the mercy of yet another Mexican driver. He drives and drives – or should I say puttz and puttz – away from Mazatlan, several miles up to the most northern part of the outskirts of the city where new and ritzier resorts are getting built far away from the discomforting detritus of Mexicans, who most likely will be limited to congregating at bus stops for arrivals and departures congruent with work shift beginnings and endings.
Where I was – was it only the day before yesterday? – when I first came to Mazatlan, looking for an RV park for diva Alma, who needs a shower and a toilet for her first night here.
The cabbie makes a turn into a cobble stone road defended by a little shack, a gate attached to a tall, stone fence, an electric arm, and an armed security guard, demanding papers from my driver before opening the way for us.
We take the massive circular drive thru manicured palms, thick grass, and very modern white concrete and glass buildings, to get to the front where several well-groomed men wait as if for a president or the pope maybe.
I am escorted in through the glass doors that run the whole length of the front of the building. Inside, moderne square chairs in tasteful solid grays, rusts, burgundy, or browns sit in two lines facing each other with blocky yet tasteful black rectangular glass covered coffee tables forming another line down the middle.
The marble floor is so shiney I could see my face if I dare lean over. There is a mature chicana couple with a grown college-age son escorted to the chairs opposite me. We smile at each other, first they speak Spanish to me and then switch to english.
I look around to try to see where the buffett will happen but can only see chrome elevators and a disappearing hallway. An old, white couple straight off the Texas ranch, oozing wealth thru their abundance of jewelry, matching fancy duds, and cowboy hats, struts off the elevator, him bulldozing thru his pockets for cash and she chirping for an ATM machine.
A tall, huge light skinned man with one tasteful ponytail, wearing a long, white silk shirt over his protruding belly and shimmering pants, appears and asks me in english for my slip of paper. He wants to know what hotel I’m staying at and I recite the apartments behind Ricos. He wants to know the name. I say I don’t remember I just arrived yesterday.
He wants to know who Alma is, as her name is on the slip. I stutter over her name, letting him think it’s my name too. He wants to know how I got to Mazatlan and I’m afraid he’ll demand my boarding pass so I say by RV. Rented, I add. He smiles warmly and reads out loud that I am promised $50 u.s. for my time.
I listen as he schmoozes in Spanish with the mature couple across from me. I am curious to hear what they have been promised but I can’t catch it.
The man who greeted me outside moves in unison with the huge man, who is now escorting my elder friends down the hallway, away from me. He is next to me, holding my arm and heading me toward the front doors, telling me to come with him.
They don’t have room for me today and can I come back tomorrow he is very sorry. RV people don't get consideration first. He continues.
I am trying to get a glimpse of the buffett, thinking we’re heading toward the brainwashing room and when it finally dawns on me what he is doing, I find myself all of the sudden really invested in staying, getting my buffett and $50 u.s. dolares.
I tell him no, I can’t come back tomorrow, I am here today. I don’t want to take another 7 mile wild taxi ride and wait in this oppressive lobby.
I stop allowing him to direct me out the doors and ask him not to touch me. He has both his hands on my arms. He tells me there are too many people here today and I cannot be seen. I tell him okay, where’s my buffett and my $50.
He tells me I have to return another time, I can’t get them today. I tell him I’m not returning and debate whether I’ll demand food or money. I want both.
I remember my Spanish teacher stressing how polite the language is, people are in Mexico. I told her I am not polite. Now I’m feeling like the ugly American. I tell him I did not ask to come here, I was promised these things and I want them.
Then I want neither. He has called a taxi, this time a real car, and has given the driver money and instructions to take me back.
He turns to me and tells me the sales person will loose money, that the cab fare is probably more than he will make in a week. I look at his $300 shirt and tell him he should know from money and workers in Mazatlan. I ask him so why are you here?
I’m a writer, I continue, and I’m writing about you. He begs me please, please, and motions me into the cab.
The driver heads out the drive and back through the locked gates that the security guard opens after rechecking his papers.
We begin driving back to Mazatlan and on the sidewalk, just outside these condos, I see the little old, meticulous brown man, his head still tilted at right angles to his shoulder, holding the full, heavy cloth-covered tray with one hand. I can’t believe he has walked all this way, several miles, toting those donuts – I feel I’m in some kind of crazy movie.