Monday, April 23, 2012

The Life Of Bryan Mazatlan


An old friend phoned me one day to ask if my daughter and I would like to go somewhere with him, all expenses paid as he had just come into a large inheritance.

'I've always wanted to go to India,' I said.
'Hey, man, I've never been outta Canada. Gimme a break, would ya?'
'Okay, then how about Mexico?'
'Doesn't everybody get the shits when they go there?'
'Bryan, everywhere you go you get the shits.'
'What about the Bahamas?'
'Let's go to Mexico!'

He flew out to Vancouver Island and stayed at my apartment while we got our tickets together for Mexico. He hadn't changed much since the last time I'd seen him and neither had his daily beer consumption, which was something I'd forgotten. As I stacked up the empty beer cases in the back of my car to bring to the bottle depot I thought, things will be different when we get to Mexico.


Our first day in Mazatlan we walked on the beach, had dinner and strolled through the night market then returned to the hotel. night market I tucked my daughter into bed and while she slept, we sat on the balcony and talked about where we wanted to go. >
I stared at Bryan's tortured face, which still continued to both amaze and horrify me. He still hadn't recovered from a disfiguring motorcycle accident he'd had seven years before.  While driving home drunk at two in the morning with his friends, he had driven off the road at 80 mph into a culvert and through a barbed-wire fence. His friends were ahead of him, so he had lain bleeding in a field for crucial minutes and when he didn't arrive home, his friends went out on a search.  His bike upside down in the culvert and they combed the fields until they found him lying unconscious in long grass about 200 feet away from the road - his left eyelid had been ripped off, his nose almost completely torn off, his jaw broken, many of his teeth shattered, and seven pints of blood were soaking into the ground. The ambulance, which took more than half an hour to reach him, drove him to the local hospital. The doctors worked hard on him, but finally they shrugged their shoulders and gave up.  Bryan said he would always remember the moment he heard one doctor say: 'I don't think he's going to make it. We might as well go ahead and send him to Ottawa General.'   Since then his eyelid  had been re-attached, his teeth replaced and his nose stitched up, but he never had any serious cosmetic surgery to get all the kinks out.  He still looked freakish.

I yawned, put my feet up on the railing and looked out over the ocean and thought about bed when I heard screams from the room. 'M-o-o-o-o-mmy! M0MMY!' Aimee was jumping on the bed, her arms flapping like a duck as she shrieked and scratched at her legs.  Her face was bright red and she was soaked with sweat. What the hell?  Large, red bumps covered her body. Mosquitoes! I ran to the pharmacia for calamine lotion and gave her a long, cool bath. The bites were enormous and her face was swollen and spotty and after towelling her dry and slathering her little body in lotion I tucked her back into bed and lay down beside her, exhausted. I was going to call it a night when the balcony door quietly slid open and Bryan poked his head in the room.

'Do you think I can still get some beer downstairs?'

'No toilet paper. What am I supposed to wipe my ass with?' Bryan was snapping the light switch in the bathroom up and down. I was still lying in bed beside Aimee.
'How long have you been up?'
'About an hour. And look at the lights dangling there. I could get electrocuted. Holy shit, is that ever dangerous.'
'Why don't you go get some toilet paper downstairs and while you're at it, see if they have any breakfast,' I said.
'This sure isn’t like it said in the guidebook.'
'Nothing ever is.'
'What hotel doesn't have toilet paper?'
'We're in Mexico.'

On his way out he shook the hotel room door, examing the lock.  'This is a piece of crap, too. Anybody could get in here.'
'Why don't they have a safe in the room?'
'This isn't Canada, for Christsake.  If you want Canada, then go back to Canada!'

I lay back on the bed and covered my eyes. I wasn't yet 48 hours in Mexico with Bryan and already I wanted to drive an axe through his skull and remove his eyeballs with a rotary hammer drill. Okay, that's a little extreme, but I had already spent more than a week with him up in Canada, and coupled with the gloomy skies and dank hotel room and my daughter crying that she wanted to go ho-o-o-ome, I was getting to almost done.

We left for San Blas.  Bunking in the Hotel Mexico, a cheap hotel in town, at least we could now walk around the few streets and meet the locals.  Life moved pretty s-l-o-w-l-y in San Blas.

While drinking coffee at the local cafe, we met Carlos, a greasy oil slick in his mid-forties, who said he owned a motel, the Delphine, on the beach at Los Cocos, not far from San Blas. He invited us to come out there and stay, so we packed our bags, loaded up his car and drove out there.  Half a dozen frozen-lidded American hippies who looked up to Carlos as their guru were living together at the motel.  Bedroom doors were open, washing hung everywhere, they cooked together in the central kitchen and they wandered in and out of each others rooms at will. The paint was peeling and the tiles were lifting and it was more grungy commune than motel, but Bryan loved it, so he went back to town with Carlos and picked up a week's worth of supplies.  Of alcohol. 

While sitting on the beach the next day smoking a joint, two of the women claimed dreamily Carlos was their 'man,' and I didn't understand, until I was told he he had had two children with one and was two months away from having a kid with the other.  They planned to stay at the motel with him until they could move back up to the States again, where he had been a pastor at a church, but now wanted to start his own church.  They were all devoted to him, even the guys were totally taken by him. 

After Bryan and Carlos returned from town, Carlos said he wanted to read my fortune, so I followed him to hear what he had to say.  On the way upstairs to a room at the back of the motel, his 'tarot' room, a dirty baby with no diaper was wandering the hallway while sucking on a card.  Other cards lay bent and scattered on the floor.  It was like seeing pages of the Bible being used for toilet paper.

'Are these tarot cards on the floor?' I asked.
'Don't mind about them, he said.  'Just come and sit over here.'

He handed the baby off to a Mexican woman I hadn't met and took out another deck of cards from a drawer, motioning for me to sit down as he shuffled them.  I shivered and started to feel paranoid, but when he cut the cards and laid them on the table, I had to stifle a laugh when I looked at the stencilled cards that barely disguised their symbolic reference to female genitalia.

'These cards all represent you,' he started, laying them out on the table. 'You're a flower that needs to be opened up and brought to your true self.'

He gazed at me with his dark eyes, pointing to the cards and going on about me needing love and acceptance and feeling that I needed to 'let go.'
'You will meet someone........perhaps soon.'   
'Yeah, I hear you.'
'The cards tell me you've been lonely. Is this true?'   He looked at me.
'It shows, Nancy. I can see the loneliness in your eyes.'
'Yeah.  Okay.  Look, I think I hear my kid crying downstairs.  I should go.'

With that I fled. 

Aimee and I moved to the pensione next door, with Bryan reluctantly in tow. It was good to get away and have our own place and have a choice to be with them or not.  I didn't want to stay that much longer.  

I was sitting around a campfire with all the hippies the next night and we'd just smoked a carumba when my daughter came shrieking around the corner of the motel with three screaming Mexican women racing after her with their arms outstretched. What the fuck? I dashed after Aimee and caught her as the women surrounded me, babbling away in Spanish and broken English that she had burnt her foot with hot coffee that had been boiling in a firepit.   Aimee sobbed and clutched her foot, tears streaming down her face.  One of the guys gave me some pure aloe vera cream which I slathered on her foot for over an hour, until she finally fell asleep. 

I finally dozed off and was sleeping beside her on our small bed in our small room, when all of a sudden my door opened and banged against the wall with a crash and with the moon as sexy backdrop and before I could scream, the looming figure of Bryan staggered in, spun around and before he fell over, collapsed at the end of my bed.  I turned on the light.  What the hell?  His glasses were cockeyed and fogged up,  barely clinging to his flattened nose.

'Hey,' he said.
'What the fuck?'
'Hey, sorry.  I'm a lil' drunk.'
'What the hell are you doing? You scared the bejesus outa me.'
He carefully pushed his glasses up his nose with the back of his thumb and cleared his throat.
'What's going on?'  I said.
'Like uh, I juss been thinkin' about something.  I wanna know something.'
'Oh, for God's sake.''
'Like us. You and me.  Like, I wanna know. What about us?'
'You know I always had a thing for you. Like way back when.'
'That was twenty years ago.'
'Twenty. Years. Ago.'
'I don't care.'
'Lookit.  There is no you and me.'
'There is no you and me.'
'You mean I just been wasting my time here?'
'I suppose so.  If you're not liking Mexico, either.'
He sat there at the end of bed.
'Bryan, why don't you just go to bed.'

We left San Blais, and since my daughter's supposed whining had driven him insane, I suggested we split up and go our own ways. He agreed, so he went off to Acapulco and I hitchhiked with my daughter to Barra de Navidad. We agreed to meet up in a month's time at the Acapulco Hotel in Acapulco; however, there were three Acapulco Hotels and I missed the meeting, so on the day of our rendez-vous Bryan stumbled throughout the day and night from one Acapulco Hotel to the other, cleaning out the bar and grill in his search for the holy grail. So the story goes......


I have found out there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.

Mark Twain -Tom Sawyer Abroad