I always wanted to study abroad, but at the rate I was going, that wasn't exactly in the forecast. I mean, in order to participate in an abroad program, I believe it's necessary to be in attendance of the college you're enrolled. Technically I went to Long Beach State, but was spending all my time at SDSU - for various reasons, but mainly because they knew how to party, and my best friend went there.
During one of my visits - no weekend in particular - an acquaintance of my friend came up with the brainchild of a little drive south of the border. I asked if it was dangerous - I had heard it was… but she was quick to assure me, "It's no big deal! My family is from there, and they're well connected. I go back all the time. It's totally fine."
*Note: If anyone, at any time in your life, ends a sentence with it's totally fine - it's not. These are what we call "famous last words," and they're the biggest red flag you will ever be handed.
A thing about me: when I was drinking, I was the most spontaneous person you'd ever meet. Sober, I'm a timid and cautious worrywart. That's one of the things I loved so much about alcohol: I got to leave that stiff girl behind. So when I was presented with the opportunity to visit this spectacular foreign land of enchantment - one that I had never before enjoyed - I did my due diligence, and asked if it was dangerous. In hindsight, I'm surprised I even did that. This girl (whose name I didn't know) seemed legitimate enough, and I was satisfied with her answer.
I should mention that my best friend - the one who actually knew (of) this girl - made the very affirmative decision to stay behind.
So, saddled up with three other strangers, I put my life into the hands of this unknown world traveler and headed south. She was bilingual. What could go wrong?
Nothing… on the way into Mexico. We made it through Tijuana - no need to stop, as it was daylight, and TJ is best left to the darkness of night, when you can't see too clear - past Rosarito, Puerta Nuevo (Lobster Town), and arrived at our destination: Hotel Calafia.
So far, there was nothing I didn't like about Mexico. Time-to-go-home o'clock rolled around, but I was ready to stake my claim and build a hut on the beach. Begrudgingly I folded-in and followed suit.
I don't really remember how we got to Calafia, but the way home looked a lot like the road less traveled, and it wreaked of a terrible mistake.
*That smell actually turned out to be the bloated, decaying carcass of a horse just kickin' it on the side of the road, covered in lye. But that's neither here nor there…
… because we found ourselves in the immediate danger of joining that goddamn horse. Before I knew what the hell was happening, I was face-to-face with a very serious looking man holding a machine gun outside my window, and his buddies were surrounding the car. My driver, Miss. "It's totally fine," was rattling off Spanish faster than I've ever heard it spoken before in my life. I didn't know what the she was saying, but the obvious translation was: we're fucked.
What seemed like an eternity lapsed before we were allowed to pass. When I tried to ask my driver what just happened, she stonewalled me. To this day I have no idea if they were Federali, Policia, Cartel or what, I just know it wasn't good, and I'm probably pretty lucky.
Did that keep me from revisiting? Hell, no! It's gonna take A LOT more than machine guns in my face to keep me away from the most beautiful guacamole and tequila I've ever tasted. Besides, I had yet to immerse myself in the culture that is Avenida Revolucion, and let me tell you - those strip clubs are not to be overlooked.
I say "for the ladies" because, while I align myself with the heterosexual persuasion, there's something so eminently cheesy about male strippers, I'd rather have bush shoved in my face before subjecting myself to the uncomfortable squirming that takes place in my stomach when I try watch a slimy man prance around in a Speedo. (Magic Mike is an exception to the rule). But, hey, to each his own.
This particular evening was spent in the company of my Uncle, his wife, my brother and his friend… because that's the kind of twisted family I have. The upside to my company this time was that I knew them well, and that made me feel much safer. I'm also a master at deluding myself.
By the end of the night, it was apparent who was part of the gene-pool and who wasn't, as my brother's friend spent the entire time we waited in line to cross the border at the end of the night with his head hanging out of the car, puking all over little kids trying to sell chickle. Some people just can't handle their tits and ass.
Years later, I managed to make it further down the Baja peninsula with a friend of mine who got so wasted on the flight to Cabo, the flight attendants threatened to have the Policia meet us upon arrival. That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the trip. Here's how the rest of it went:
- we landed, no Policia
- we got to the hotel: continued drinking
- we stayed drunk for 5 days
- El Squid Roe was in there somewhere…
...and that's as much as I can remember through the fog of booze.
Viva la Mexico!