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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In the eye

I look over and see a tall, rickety chain link fence running along the sidewalk, in front of an empty asphalt lot strewn with abandoned plastic bottles, jagged random cracks, scattered weeds pushing up thru the pavement.

I look up and see a tall cement wall of varying heights and widths, coming to join the fence at right angles, marking the edge of the lot.

I look through and see a light post sticking up several feet left of the wall and several feet behind chain link fence.

Someone has looked up and seen four corners to attach a tarp with rope to, forming a roof. Someone has looked down and seen a floor to anchor chairs, tables, and a rolling cooker to.

And others have looked in and seen a tasty meal, sugar treats, comrades, and flock to the plastic chairs.


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.

Alma misses her plane!

Alma emails just before I'm getting ready to head out to the Holiday Inn - she has missed her plane, sitting on the toilet, it has taken off without her. Now she's coming in on the next plane that won't get in until 11pm!

I am unable to sleep as my alarm does not consistently work and I don't want to miss meeting her at the Holiday Inn. I do not look forward to walking to the Holiday Inn at 11:30 at night but, oh well.

I keep checking the internet around 10, when the plane is to take off, and 10:30 and 11pm. It says it's scheduled, on time, 20 minutes late taking off, but that is it.

By 11:30 I am worried she will be there before me so I leave the RV park and head toward our rendezvous point and a good thing to! As I'm walking down the gravel road out of the park, someone is locking a gate across the road!

I am horrified - I could have gotten locked out! He agrees to leave the padlock on the gate "pretend" locked - I can't believe I get him to understand me.

Out in front of the Holiday Inn, I wait and wait, get online, keep trying to figure it out. Alma is silent, no emails, nothing - I should have told her to email when she lands but who knows if there's internet or not at the airport.

Finally, I speak with the guards hanging out in front of the hotel with me. It is after midnight now & I can't get online as the Holiday Inn's wi-fi is password protected. grrrrr

One of the guards goes inside and calls the airport. He comes back with a neatly printed note of the numbers for the airport. He tells me what I think is the airport is closed. I'm like, impossible, my friend hasn't landed yet.

I am worried about the gate - and walking around the streets of Mazatlan carrying my laptop, after midnite - so I leave a note for Alma with the so friendly guards who know where the RV park is, and return to find the gate "pretend" locked.

I lock it for true, and return to sit below the office with my computer. Finally I get an email from Alma saying she is still in Mexico City with 50 other people on her flight -  the Mazatlan airport is closed and they are spending the nite in Mexico City - and they will fly out early in the morning.

I am to meet her around 11am this time - so she won't be able to do the buffett and $50 sales pitch with me. I'll do it and let her know all about it!