January 8th, 2005.

In Acapulco, they’re better at getting your money than in the other towns.  Before joining up with my little excursion group to go poke dolphins, I wondered around the city, trailed by men looking to sell me a ride or a tour or their sister or “paradise”, “the moon” and senoritas.  That was interesting.  Acapulco is sort of like New York City with palm trees.  It’s dirty and busy.

After getting into Acapulco, I did some wondering before my dolphin swim excursion. I Love the fact that they build shrines here – I think I’ve mentioned that they take their holy seriously here. Placing their souls and worries in stones left for the road-side dead, shrines out in the open on the docks to the Virgin Guadalupe. They are beautiful and festive things rather than dead momuments. It’s something to think about… I have trouble being religious, but Love it in others. That faith is important to being a real human being, maybe.

I’ll be pretty burned after today since we can’t wear sun block while swimming with the dolphins…

A major part of the Cruise was facing some of my big water fears. Swimming with dolphins was a huge part of that. Up until I actually got in the water, I was NOT sure if I would totally freak out or not. I have a pretty decent video of me cursing a little bit though as they swim around me… but I got to the point where we were huggy and affectionate… and I DID like rubbing their bellies and feeding them fish.

I guess i just HAVE to end up in shorts once a year or so.  This is for a worthy cause though.  Slipping into warm salt water with these strong grey entities – they move fast and shoot from one end of the pool to the other, giggling and chittering and grinning all the while.  I was pretty freaked out at first, especially since the tour guidesort of sensed my fear or something and teased me about putting me in the tank with the great white shark.  I fought to remain impassive, but I got teased all day about the fact that my eyes got huge and I turned kind of pale.

They are surprisingly hard under their rubber exteriors.  Like steel – I was almost expecting them to feel like sharks or skates – cartilidge under the surface – I knew they were mammals, but feeling that bone under the surface was still a shock.  They are immensely strong, and I got flippered in the leg at one point as we parted paths.  Lots of cool tricks, they swam under us and jumped over us, sang with us and shoved us across the pool.  I have a video for those of you who are really THAT interested.  Unfortunately, they made some poor, poor musical choices as a sound track.

Dolphin swimming was pretty intense.  Spectacular pushes of power, strong bone and muscle.  And joy – though I don’t think they particularly like people – they do seem to Love the motions.  The people are just part of the work.

For an hour after our time with the dolphins, we have our run of the water park where they’re house.  Listening to Madonna now over the PA – “Open your heart to me”.  There’s a spider with wriggly little head antennae watching me brush my hair out.

Forty minutes to sit.  I don’t really like the waterslides and whatnot, not without someone else to play with.  I guess I could go back out to the beach or something, but the water is filthy and I hate not knowing the language at all – It’s way more of a barrier than I thought it would be…

January 8th, 2005.

In Acapulco, they’re better at getting your money than in the other towns.  Before joining up with my little excursion group to go poke dolphins, I wondered around the city, trailed by men looking to sell me a ride or a tour or they’re sister or “paradise”, “the moon” and senoritas.  That was interesting.  Acapulco is sort of like New York City with palm trees.  It’s dirty and busy.

I’ll be pretty burned after today since we can’t wear sun block while swimming with the dolphins…

I guess i just HAVE to end up in shorts once a year or so.  This is for a worthy cause though.  Slipping into warm salt water with these strong grey entities – they move fast and shoot from one end of the pool to the other, giggling and chittering and grinning all the while.  I was pretty freaked out at first, especially since the tour guidesort of sensed my fear or something and teased me about putting me in the tank with the great white shark.  I fought to remain impassive, but I got teased all day about the fact that my eyes got huge and I turned kind of pale.

They are surprisingly hard under their rubber exteriors.  Like steel – I was almost expecting them to feel like sharks or skates – cartilidge under the surface – I knew they were mammals, but feeling that bone under the surface was still a shock.  They are immensely strong, and I got flippered in the leg at one point as we parted paths.  Lots of cool tricks, they swam under us and jumped over us, sang with us and shoved us across the pool.  I have a video for those of you who are really THAT interested.  Unfortunately, they made some poor, poor musical choices as a sound track.

Dolphin swimming was pretty intense.  Spectacular pushes of power, strong bone and muscle.  And joy – though I don’t think they particularly like people – they do seem to Love the motions.  The people are just part of the work.

For an hour after our time with the dolphins, we have our run of the water park where they’re house.  Listening to Madonna now over the PA – “Open your heart to me”.  There’s a spider with wriggly little head antennae watching me brush my hair out.

Forty minutes to sit.  I don’t really like the waterslides and whatnot, not without someone else to play with.  I guess I could go back out to the beach or something, but the water is filthy and I hate not knowing the language at all – It’s way more of a barrier than I thought it would be…

January 4th, 2006.

Finishing "Allergy" and watching the wake of the boat.
Finishing “Allergy” and watching the wake of the boat.
Scott borrowing my guitar to feed his hankering. He's cursing himself for not bringing his own guitar... he and Denni are from Reno, Nevada.
Scott borrowing my guitar to feed his hankering. He’s cursing himself for not bringing his own guitar… he and Denni are from Reno, Nevada.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Crazy-ass Zodiac driver. Huge humpback whales. Edited thoughts about the beautiful woman also on this Excursion.

So – this is my first experiencing with getting off the boat in a foreign country. Grafitti and trah doesn’t make for a flattering first-impression, but old flaked paint and sun-baked textures and sun-baked old men asking for money in exchange for half-understood services make an impression. We go whale chasing in a tiny rubber boat smaller than my mom’s van. We track them zig-zagging ten miles off the coast where they surface almost under a yacht, making the sunbathers on the deck scream in dismay. We play Elvis at them until they calm down, and they thrash on the surface with their tales, making sure we keep our distance. I took a LOT of photographs, but never quite get them both in the air at the same time.

With an hour left on the clock of our tour, the zodiac driver says it’s time to go see Land’s End and pushes the twin throttles all the way to the stop with about 2 seconds of warning. I’m still standing in the back of the boat as we kick away at 25 knots, which somehow seems really, really fast.

Skipping from wavetop to wavetop, there’s a huge woman sitting next to me, and with every impact she is thrown a little further on to me. My grip and space become precarious things and I worry about my immediate future.

Land’s End is a beautiful collection of cliffs and rocks and sea lions and pelicans and many, m any boats edging in for the sights and the sounds and the unfortunate smells of the aforementioned sea lions.

Exhausted and with bloodied hands from hanging on to the Zodiac, we return to the Mercury in time for dinner.

Good sunset, and a frustrated Uncle, so firm in his Love of America. Mexico suffers by his comparison. Someone else points out that the place is just really, really different – and you can’t compare it to where you’re from. I’ve never felt so thoroughly American as coming up to this town, so blatantly brightly-coloured and only existing for tourists and game fishers. It’s dark by now, and I get to be alone on my aft deck again.

Sunset after our first day at sea.
Getting carted to Cabo San Lucas in the tender, we get to see the Mercury from sea level...
Getting carted to Cabo San Lucas in the tender, we get to see the Mercury from sea level…

I keep feeling weird about having all these people picking up after me – like all we REALLY want to escape from back home is dirty dishes and doing our laundry. My mom says that that is sort of her favourite part of these cruises. It just makes me feel guilty.

Stranger still – the man who takes my plate away while I’m writing this is grinning like he’s getting away with something. He reminds me of an evil horse. Like the type who chews your bike chain off your bike while you’re not looking.

A lot of time spent idle here. I don’t really know what to do, and feel sort of guilty sitting so still, like I’m wasting opportunities – but once we put to see, it’s all movies and gambling and music from a very different era.

Cabo San Lucas seems like a shell, graffiti covered and incomplete.
Cabo San Lucas seems like a shell, graffiti covered and incomplete.
No aircraft carriers in Cabo San Lucas, but we are next to a pirate ship - special for Holly....
No aircraft carriers in Cabo San Lucas, but we are next to a pirate ship – special for Holly….

I feel so awkward among all those people – I have no doubt that they’ve all worked very hard and that in some sense there is a lot of reward for being a dishwasher or waiter or housekeeper on this boat. It’s just very surreal compared to my own travels – seemingly so focused on making sure everything from home is transported with us… perhaps I’m being unfair, I just haven’t found the right attitude yet. Think… land owner…. think… slave rapist… hrm. It’s just a big ass boat of escapists. 

Whales! Humpbacks to be exact! Just like Star Trek IV! We got to be right on top of these guys in our little Zodiac. Other people took a tour boat and were all impressed that they saw some whales through their binoculars... whatEVER.
Whales! Humpbacks to be exact! Just like Star Trek IV! We got to be right on top of these guys in our little Zodiac. Other people took a tour boat and were all impressed that they saw some whales through their binoculars… whatEVER.
On the return trip we get a quick tour of Lands End. Though we're just off the mainland, the seabed quickly shelves out and we're currently in 2000 feet of water! I had to not think about that too much.
On the return trip we get a quick tour of Lands End. Though we’re just off the mainland, the seabed quickly shelves out and we’re currently in 2000 feet of water! I had to not think about that too much.

The boat is tossing more and I’m getting the occassional freaked out shivers from being near the water. My head sees shapes of sinuous serpentine beasts – things that can’t exist and won’t in daylight with company – but a momentary lapse of my focus and I can see them moving out there in the constantly shifting blackness.

January 5th, 2006.

Mazatlan – my grandfather falls. pigeon assault. Sheila and the tour. Church. Shoeshine square. Yesterday – “I’m NOT your HUSBAND!!!” Last night – a little too much experimentation with Jack Daniels perhaps. Possibly finished “Allergy”, though.

Yeah – those are the notes I have to deal with. We docked in Mazatlan at 7am and took the tender (little Life boat thingie) to town just after breakfast. We met up with our tourguide, Sheila, and wandered the city, exploring and seeing the opera house, the nice end of town, the not-so-nice end of town… lots of sculptures and public works… they’re big into dolphins and pervasive, if not very deep, symbolism. We went into a bakery, who’s owner’s house is attached and filled with historical artefacts. She’s got lots of tales to tell, but we’re distracted by light, flakey bread things with cinnamon an ever-present tang.

I was curious about the name of this arch, and was disappointed to find out that it was called "Los Arcos". Sigh. And yet a rabbit is NOT "Los Rabbito". I learned a LOT on my trip to Mexico.
I was curious about the name of this arch, and was disappointed to find out that it was called “Los Arcos”. Sigh. And yet a rabbit is NOT “Los Rabbito”. I learned a LOT on my trip to Mexico.

We stopped at her favourite restaraunt and listened to a man play guitar and play flute as we sat and ate chips and salsa. Incredible salsa – very fresh. Hot chips freshly baked. Very nice. All in the shadow of a Christmas tree decorated exclusively with Coca Cola advertisements.

We went to the town square of Mazatlan, looked at the cathedral there. Beautiful – I usually feel sort of wrong about taking photographs in and around churches, but there’s something about the Mexican-Catholic affinity for neon and Christmas lights that make me feel less sacriligeous in my activitities.

Many many pigeons – unafraid of the rampant gargoyle population, clustered in shoeshine square around the nativity displays and the Live donkeys and pigs and goats.

Sunset over Land's End as we depart Cabo San Lucas.
Sunset over Land’s End as we depart Cabo San Lucas.

My grandfather strides through them and I JUST miss the shot – his grin is obscured by a pigeon flying right in front of his face and I curse myself for being just a little too fast or just a little too slow.

I’m always amazed by how much my grandfather can walk – uneven cobbles of Mexican streets – Sheila is from Washington State, but has Lived here for 25 years and leads us around the town for about 4 hours. My grandfather has no problem keeping up, though at one moment when we’re all looking the wrong way, he misses a step and falls to the ground. Terrified we rush over – old people break so easily with their brittle frames – but he’s picking himself up and smiling. “Are you ok?” “I’m here”. It’s an answer we get used to over the next couple of days.

Dawn in Mazatlan, Mexico. One of the nice things about crossing a bunch of timezones going west in winter, is that you can be conscious for sunrise AND sunset. Absolutely beautiful - every morning has started hazy and diffuse, and slowly the city unrolls around you. It's like a snowday every day - looking outside to see if there's land. Have I said that before? Bah - I think it everytime I look at one of these pictures.
Dawn in Mazatlan, Mexico. One of the nice things about crossing a bunch of timezones going west in winter, is that you can be conscious for sunrise AND sunset. Absolutely beautiful – every morning has started hazy and diffuse, and slowly the city unrolls around you. It’s like a snowday every day – looking outside to see if there’s land. Have I said that before? Bah – I think it everytime I look at one of these pictures.

A diver in Mazatlan - in a moment he leaps off the top there, narrowly avoiding the rocks and landing in 5 feet of water or so. Then his kids come around and ask for money. That's probably a bit of a rough job, and he crosses himself before the dive. I wonder how he got started - if one day his father took him to the top of this town and said "Ok son, today you become a man" and while the kid's eagerly looking around for nubile young women, his dad shoves him off the cliff. Hrm. Somedays it IS good to be a suburban American.
A diver in Mazatlan – in a moment he leaps off the top there, narrowly avoiding the rocks and landing in 5 feet of water or so. Then his kids come around and ask for money. That’s probably a bit of a rough job, and he crosses himself before the dive. I wonder how he got started – if one day his father took him to the top of this town and said “Ok son, today you become a man” and while the kid’s eagerly looking around for nubile young women, his dad shoves him off the cliff. Hrm. Somedays it IS good to be a suburban American.

Getting back to the boat, I hang out with Scott and Denni back at their stateroom and, well, you know – there wasn’t anything to mix with the Jack Daniels… so I drank a little more of that than I perhaps otherwise would’ve. Scott solos enthusiastically, showing off the new guitar he bought in Mazatlan. It’s an Ovation knock-off of some sort, but plays well despite the old strings. I meet Mick and Caroline from Australia who are showing off pictures from back home.

Somewhere in there, having finished my song “Drift” – I’ve been working on a new one called “Allergy”. Not QUITE sure, but I think it’s just about done.

January 6th, 2006.

The dolphins are a symbol of Mazatlan - with the man and woman together symbolizing humanity, looking forward into the future, where the dolphins lead them on Life's ups and downs and off into the unknown.
The dolphins are a symbol of Mazatlan – with the man and woman together symbolizing humanity, looking forward into the future, where the dolphins lead them on Life’s ups and downs and off into the unknown.

Mazatlan, and indeed, much of Mexico - it looks like a warzone to me. Shattered buildings and flaking paint. The damage is done by time, neglect, and occasional tsunami rather than maliciousness however. There's a beauty to its decay - also - it's an interesting side-effect to there being no rules about how long things can be under construction here - buildings stand half-completed for years at a time... you know... "manana".
Mazatlan, and indeed, much of Mexico – it looks like a warzone to me. Shattered buildings and flaking paint. The damage is done by time, neglect, and occasional tsunami rather than maliciousness however. There’s a beauty to its decay – also – it’s an interesting side-effect to there being no rules about how long things can be under construction here – buildings stand half-completed for years at a time… you know… “manana”.

Carnivale costumes. Adults aren't allowed to wear things that cover their faces anymore since an assassination years and years ago.
Carnivale costumes. Adults aren’t allowed to wear things that cover their faces anymore since an assassination years and years ago.

Workshop space in Nidart. Clay works, all sorts of fiddly beady bits. Beautiful courtyard spaces. I wonder if I can go there and work?
Workshop space in Nidart. Clay works, all sorts of fiddly beady bits. Beautiful courtyard spaces. I wonder if I can go there and work?
Standard flying skeleton in the artist commune Nidart.
Standard flying skeleton in the artist commune Nidart.

In a land that’s never seen snow, I find the Christmas decorations kind of funny. Sad too
My Grandfather strides through pigeons in Shoeshine Square in Mazatlan, Mexico. I'm angry at myself for missing the perfect shot - his HUGE grin moments after the winged rats clear his head!
My Grandfather strides through pigeons in Shoeshine Square in Mazatlan, Mexico. I’m angry at myself for missing the perfect shot – his HUGE grin moments after the winged rats clear his head!

The Mazatlan Cathedral. Mexican aesthetics plus Catholicism.
The Mazatlan Cathedral. Mexican aesthetics plus Catholicism.
The interior of the Mazatland Cathedral. Blue and neon and beauty and glass and gold.
The interior of the Mazatland Cathedral. Blue and neon and beauty and glass and gold.
Cibernet and PC-chips. I just like saying it.
Cibernet and PC-chips. I just like saying it.
Speaking of unfinished homes - this one has been standing undone for a couple of years, apparently. The owner vanished, and after some digging it turned out he'd been involved in drug trafficking. In any case, until the legal dispute between his two mistresses and his wife is resolved, this is likely to stay as is and unoccupied.
Speaking of unfinished homes – this one has been standing undone for a couple of years, apparently. The owner vanished, and after some digging it turned out he’d been involved in drug trafficking. In any case, until the legal dispute between his two mistresses and his wife is resolved, this is likely to stay as is and unoccupied.

Puerto Vallarta and San Sebastion, Mexico

“make myself understood with my arms and my feet”

“cows”

“Have a Japanese moment”

Martin

“tictactictactictactictactic”

“I  cannot talk like that.  The tower is listening.”

“The glingle glingle glingle of silver bars.”

Those are my notes from January 6th.  Mostly quotes from our tourguide Martin (Mar TEEEN), a vivacious manin khaki, born in Italy and raised in Austria.  He was married to a Japanese-Mexican and has an exquisite accent.

But the story BEGINS after getting to shore in Puerto Vallarta and being quickly shuttled from one tour facilitor to another, being pointed to signs and shuffled around.  Each individual we encounter seems to have a lesser grasp of English than the last till a woman with Holly-hair stuffs us all into a taxi cab, speaks rapid-fire Spanish at the driver, hands him a folded up sheet of paper and pats the top of the car and vanishes back into the crowds.

We say “good morning” to the driver and he says “Buenos dias!!!”  We say “so how are you today?” and he says “Buenos dias!!!”  We say “do you understand English?” and he puts the car in gear and peels off into traffic and says “Buenos dias!!!”

I’ve decided that though high school Spanish teachers would have you believe that “buenos dias” and a smile is a friendly greeting equivelant to “good day”, I’ve discovered that in Mexico it generally means “Learn our language and buckle your seat belt, gringo”.  It’s one of the rare moments where a foreign language is more economically worded than our own.

The Mexican approach to driving is similar to my old friend Paula’s approach to parking.  She would race around parking lots in her tiny blue Geo screaming “I’M LOOKING FOR A HOLE FOR MY CAR I’M LOOKING FOR A HOLE FOR MY CAR” and then would spin the wheel apparently at random and dodge into a momentarily less dense area in the overall time space continuum and lodge her car into it, all the while with her passengers alternating between screams and prayers.

The Mexicans do pretty much the same thing minus the screaming.  Presumably because they’re focusing on the fact that the hole they’re looking for is a moving target.  After watching our cab driver deftly insert himself into the flow of traffic, maneuvering manically to get us out of the port section of town, and wheeling us onto a highway, me and my companions were beginning to relax.

Then he stops and asks for directions.

He did that three times before one of us spotted the sign for the Aerodrome (he thought we were going to the Aeroporte or something probably with a “u” in it) and pointed desperately.

We finally arrive to a closed gate, where we are told the taxi may not enter because they’d just received a large shipment of money and no cars are allowed on the premises while they’re dealing with large shipments of money.

This sounds sensible, and any excuse to leave our taxi cab behind seemed like a good one at the time.

Oh God the runway was tiny and approached at great speed with much turbulent jostling. What made it really bad was the whole “if there are cows on the runway, we’ll have to do a couple of buzz runs first… you know…. scare’em off” thing.

Pull for quick erect?

The mountains where the Predator hunts out past Puerto Vallarta.
The mountains where the Predator hunts out past Puerto Vallarta.

The first thing we encounter at Puerto Vallarta. Though unwelcome for its socio-economic implications, I was being confined to certain parts of the boat because of the evening dress-code on some nights, so all in all it was probably a GOOD thing that we found a place that sold slacks.

So, what was today’s mission?  While others were wandering the streets and sights of Puerto Vallarta, made famous by John Huston’s 1964 film “Night of the Iguana”, looking at the homes of movie stars and admiring various sites of absolute disinterest to me – me and my small group of intrepid explorers were going to take a small plane up into the mountains (coincidentally the site of a much more pertinent flick in my mind – Predator) to explore the small mining town of San Sebastion.

Mostly abandoned, San Sebastion used to be a thriving town of some 30,000 people – centred around mining and refining silver, John Huston placed a home up there and drew crowds as the silver mines fell off.  Now there are less than 300 people Living up there for the passing tour groups, keeping the history alive (or at least remembering it) and working the coffee plantation.

This should not exist. Plain and simple. Scared the Hell out of me.
This should not exist. Plain and simple. Scared the Hell out of me.
A new friend. This is his photogenic side - the other side of his face was scarred quite badly from a rattlesnake bite. He and I played fetch for a little while till it was time to go back to the rest of the town
A new friend. This is his photogenic side – the other side of his face was scarred quite badly from a rattlesnake bite. He and I played fetch for a little while till it was time to go back to the rest of the town.

Martin meets us at the aerodrome and introduces himself in beautifully accented English.  He is dynamic and funny and knowledgeable as Hell.  He says things like “If my English fails me, I will try and make myself understood with my hands and my feet” and “Listen to me now and then have your Japanese moments” (scolding us for wandering off and taking pictures).

In the tiny plane that vaults us out of Puerto Vallarta, he explains that the pilot is an expert and could land us on the roof of a house if we asked it of him.  I’m pretty adamant in my desire to not have this proven.

He takes us up through the mountains, circling waterfalls and volcanos and changes in the flora.  We look for whales but have no luck, and then after a turbulent climb we’re finally circling the valley that hides San Sebastion.

What can I say?  It’s a tiny town with tiny roads. Cobblestones that have lasted 300 years and old women who keep the history of their village in their heads.  We first go to the hacienda that headed up silver production where Martin launches into a comprehensive history of Mexico.  We’re standing in the sun for twenty minutes as he takes us from the Aztecs to the most recent revolution.  Most of it didn’t stick, but it was a pretty useful grounding for the rest of the trip.

The hacienda - which apparently pretty much means "factory" where silver was mined in the mountain town of San Sebastian, Mexico.
The hacienda – which apparently pretty much means “factory” where silver was mined in the mountain town of San Sebastian, Mexico.
As I wandered around, I was amazed by my Grandpa's ability to keep up. Scrabbling to the top of an aqueduct to get a better view was the only time I left him behind.
As I wandered around, I was amazed by my Grandpa’s ability to keep up. Scrabbling to the top of an aqueduct to get a better view was the only time I left him behind.

Avacado apparently means "testicles". Great.
Avacado apparently means “testicles”. Great.

Wandering down through the rest of the town - San Sebastion is exquisite with cobblestones, flowers and mountaintop sunshine.
Wandering down through the rest of the town – San Sebastion is exquisite with cobblestones, flowers and mountaintop sunshine.

The Church of San Sebastion. Almost abandoned, but beautiful and still used by the town's tiny population.
The Church of San Sebastion. Almost abandoned, but beautiful and still used by the town’s tiny population.

Another pirate ship for my pirate back home.

Mexico actually means “Bellybutton of the moon”.

Good to know.  Beautiful places.  I’m there with grandfather, and I’m amazed that he can scramble up the hills with me, and deals with the cobbles just fine.  He’s delighted by the plane ride, and overwhelmed by finding poinsettias growing wild.

We pick coffee beans from the trees and suck the sweet juices from them – the basis of kahlua.  We discover ricin seeds and DON’T suck the juice from them… it’s the one place in the world where a banana tree can grow naturally next to a pine tree which is growing naturally next to cactus.

The coffee plantation is old and stone and they are slowly modernizing.  The smell of the roasting beans pervades the landscape and we pick loranges from the trees – half lime half orange.  I’ve never heard of anything like it.  Never tasted anything like it.  We watch coffee get roasted and ground – I get some of that for Amy…

We ate lunch at a gorgeous open air bar – mole chicken and tacos and hand-made tortillas.  Watching everything being made and brought out to us.  It was one of the best meals ever had by this rob.

We get nervous waiting for the plane (hah – tired of writing, I’m afraid – I’m actually currently sitting at Jozart Studios in California, PA and Dave Pahanish has arrived and is writing a song in the corner… makes me want to listen)… nervous waiting for the plane, can’t miss our boat.  The tour has gone for an hour longer than it was”supposed to”, and though I’ve Loved every minute of it, it’s time to go.

Last thoughts:

the church of San Sebastion was beautiful – the Catholics, the Spanish – they take their holy seriously.  Neon and blue and Christmas lights are tacky to my eyes, but we as a race have never built anything half so beautiful as the homes we’ve built for our gods.

horses are real here, not for sport or for tourists.  You can tell they work hard.

My grandfather takes it all in but now doesn’t remember that we have a boat to go back to.

Sunset leaving Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, listening to Scott playing Sol over the horizon.

January 7th, 2006.

Five days down on the cruise, sixdays to go.  Almost midway.  I studiously avoid the word “trip”.  There’s only one “Trip” that I ever taken now and that’s with a capital ‘T’.  Anything else is a jaunt, or a wandering, or God forbid, possibly a tour.  I may be in need of a thesaurus.  But the Trip is holy writ (note to self – post that portion of the website again).

Last night was the first time I’ve remembered my dreams in months, even if only vaguely.

The first one was about still being on this boat, but Heather and Tyler were out on the beach, coming over a rise, running around chasing one another and giggling. I miss Heather a bit. It was very Gidget.

Then my alarm went off to wake up my mom.

Upon getting back to sleep, I dreamt about being back in my mom’s house – but it was really, really crowded.  I retreated to what I thought of as “my room” (though more recently that’s George’s room, or now the Guest Room) which was now pale blue and had two beds in it in an L-shape..

In any case, the rest of the house was just full of people putting together some sort of performance – in one room there were midgets were practicing holding one another through handstands and spins.  In another, a couple of friends (I remember Mitzi and Janna being included) were working up a very passable cover of Cricket Hunt.

In “my room” for a moment, I’m finding quiet before the door bursts open… I’m sitting up in bed under the blankets, and two women (I don’t remember who) burst in and climb into bed with me, wanting to talk about the flanger effect being applied to my guitar in the studio on my new song (Drift – later note – that’s why I tried Dave’s flanger out on stage while playing it at Jozart – cause it was suggested in this dream).

THEY wanted to use my old Korg pedal, but I wanted Jeremy to apply it after-the-fact… strains  of Cricket Hunt still coming through the door…

Then Brandi pops her head through the window.  She’s found a ladder someplace and is half-way in.  I’m yelling at her to come in or NOT (I don’t want people just hanging outside my bedroom window on a ladder) when my mom knocks at the door.

Gesturing frantically for Brandi to GET HER HEAD DOWN – too late, my mom walks in and, in her way, studiously ignores everything that looks to be going on in the room and demands that I come help with the dancing…

Thank God my uncle’s snoring then woke me up before I was dreaming about dancing with midgets.

Pretty obvious dreams, really, one reLiving and pointing out my most recent relationship failures and the other just reiterating the fact that I wish I could get away from the people on this fucking cruise.


About the Cruise So Far…

Yesss… about the cruise…

So far, 5 days in, 6 days to go, I have NOT hated it.  I’ve spent some times disliking my mother, my Grandfather and my uncle, but no time actually disliking the cruise itself.

I like playing the Yamaha – a lot.  Though I miss my computer and all this writing is making my shoulder cramp really, really terribly, it’s probably good to be excreting so much into my Little Black Book again.  If nothing else, I think most of the other passengers think I’m writing about killing them, and that kind of fear is worth it’s weight in gold.

In any case, I’m upstairs with a buffet breakfast and the ocean steadily being pushed aside outside the floor to ceiling windows outside.

I wonder what forces are at work to create that hazy horizon, and how far out at sea we are to provide are uninterrupted landeless vistas.

Eating is an excercise in guilt. Constantly watching other people serve (very diverse, actually – my Baltimore eyes are suprised that the bus boys and waiters and whatnot aren’t divided along racial lines – though NO white males – on the other hand I haven’t seen but one white male among the entire 903 people of the crew)(as I write this, a beautiful tanned model of a blonde asks in accented English if she can take my tray).

In any case, I’m very, very conscious of swarms of people SERVING me. Estrella, the latino woman who comes and cleans our room, does so twice a day and says “Good morning sir rob… good evening sir rob.” I don’t like that feeling, like the standards they are held to means that my every action makes their work harder, and that stopping to engage them in conversation like everyday humans only lengthens their work day.

She is older, and MUST have a family (I find out later that she’s missing her two kids, they stay with her sister while she works cruise-lines). I wonder how often she is home. I wonder how steady a job this is for any of the staff (she works them regularly – for .75c an hour) and if they miss their homes (she does, terribly), or if they practically Live on the boat – if they’re well-paid, etc.

I’m watching the table in front of me – two retired couples (?) wondering about the construction of chairs, if they’re stackable – previously talking about the price of diesel, presumably for their motor homes… Whatever it is has a 100 gallon tank – he talks about how when he bought it, diesel fuel was cheaper than unleaded.

He passes a table of Japanese and remarks on the size of a breadstick, apparently gripped by a child (the blonde appears and disappears again, leaving a waft of fragrance) and tells her that he’s NEVER seen a breadstick that big – the child grips it and says “I wanted a BIGGER bwead stick!!!” – the table laughs.

Even I smile.

My grandfather is both worse and better off than I thought.

On the one hand, he walks well, and other than missing a step in Mazatlan, does really well.  He clamoured up steep inclines in San Sebastion – that had me concerned – and can probably outwalk ME.

There are kittens scattered all over Acapulco. Not really sure what that points to, and I'm sure they're all feral, insane and diseased - but it makes for cute pics that will piss Heather off since I'm in MEXICO and I shouldn't be filling the Journal with cute pictures of mammals. Poor chick... wait till I get to the iguanas!
There are kittens scattered all over Acapulco. Not really sure what that points to, and I’m sure they’re all feral, insane and diseased – but it makes for cute pics that will piss Heather off since I’m in MEXICO and I shouldn’t be filling the Journal with cute pictures of mammals. Poor chick… wait till I get to the iguanas!

Not that we’ve kept up grueling paces or anything, but he IS 83 or so.

But on the other hand he’s very, very confused – he keeps being surprised that we’re spending the night on the boat – can’t hold schedules in his mind, nor the layout of the ship.  He gets confused by words that don’t come to mind, he doesn’t like the fact that buildings outside keep changing.  He hates the fact that we don’t see stars at night.

Arrival in Acapulco, walking around and exploring the shells of homes and the collapsed buildings of the beach. I would Love to know a little bit more about why the walls area all shattered...
Arrival in Acapulco, walking around and exploring the shells of homes and the collapsed buildings of the beach. I would Love to know a little bit more about why the walls area all shattered…

 

He’s very easy going about most things.  “Are you alright / ok?” almost invariable receives an “I’m still here” response.  He still uses the same phrases from when we were kids, like “You really lucked out”.

His flesh fallen slack like the wattle of an iguana, remembering the service photographs on the walls from when he was 20… I can’t imagine coming to terms with such changes and age.  I imagine going around the room, shrouding old photographs, and burning myself into non-recognition.

He’s taken a real joy out of the discovery that he’s on a boat (0ver and over again), out of the airplane ride to San Sebastion, he had a huge grin on his face upon frightening a flock of pigeons near the Mazatlan Cathedreal – but I wonder if he’d remember the event if I mentioned it now.

I miss Heather?  No – I miss playing music with Heather, but I’m not sure that I miss her.  I’ve always known that I needed some real time away from her.  I’d KILL to have a romantic interest out here with me.  There’s a Creature back home who would Love this – I’m taking photographs of pirate ships for her and she’d run me ragged climbing after coconuts and chasing lizards.  Well – she’s more reserved than that, maybe – but there’s black sands and skies that aren’t to be believed and dolphins and … I Live through bring things to other people, and it’s painful not to be sharing it all with someone I really care about.

January 9th, 2006.

Petatlan, Mexico.
Hanging out late.  George and a very affectionate, drunk and loud Nicole – creatures I met on the dolphin swim).  The name gets me to thinking too much and I’m already writing something.  George had a little adventure on the side of the boat, climbing from balcony to balcony after Nicole passed out with both their keys in their stateroom.  She’s beautiful and young, he’s older and stoic and I can’t imagine that the fascination with his money and the huge diamond ring on her finger will last forever.  He gets very agitated about her fascination with me and my guitar.

A new friend met at the dolphin swim – Sheri trying to stuff an oversized lime into her Corona.

Lying about is a common past time in Mexico.

Pinattas – 7-sided stars. Apparently, these represent the 7 deadly sins and kids are taught that after you beat the fuck out of the 7 deadly sins you get candy. That’s pretty clever, says I. Oh – and the sins make you blind, and getting rid of them means you take the blindfold OFF. Perfection.
In Acapulco they paint there buses with cartoons and movies. Very, very cool.

A Malefic bus in Acapulco, Mexico.
Says it all, really.

I’ve spent a lot of time on these excursions with very sarcastic, jaded people.  “How do you enjoy a cruise to Mexico?”  “Lower your expectations.”

Fuckers, go home and leave more space on the boat for people who enjoy it.  It makes me think aging with grace.  Some people bother, others don’t.  I worry about growing and not being able to adapt, and just getting bitter and angry like my father.  I dont’ want to die that way.

Manana attitude
highways look the same everywhere
Catholocism is a BAD combination with a poor economy
LIZARD
….
2 LIZARDS!!!!
tires used as building blocks

I’m tempted to eat, and things smell very, very good.  It’s easy enough to wait until the food is free, back on the boat, and we keep getting warned about the food – but this smeellllssss soooo good.  A fellow traveller’s energetic bathroom emissions for the past two days though, they sort of make me hesitate.

I always seem to make friends with the “one-uppers” who seem to have something to prove.  That’s on the boat, that’s in Life, that’s everywhere.  I think of it as a gamer trait, but it’s a lot broader.  They have something they want to get off their chest, some discussion or fight they want to pick.  Perhaps the people like that are just the ones that want to talk about themselves the most and therefore more interested in talking in general.  I’m alone and quiet, and an easy target perhaps.

I wonder what a Mexican woman would think of America – being here explains a LOT about Langley Park.

It was interesting to see the church of Petatlan – a working church.  The other two that we’ve seen so far, though they were certainly use, but they were populated by tourists as much as any less secular creature.  The Cathedral at Petatlan, you could sense the reverence – ironically the least spectacularly decorated (though still with that affection for Christmas lights and blue neon) – but it’s the holiest in attitude.  I watch people cross themselves as they pass every entrance.  I admire that faith, even if I can’t share it.

Departing Acapulco by night. It took me a LONG time to get the silhouettes from the boats in there. In the process I meet the pretty goth-girl I've been watching for the last couple of days. Christina replaces observations of "Gothling" in my Little Black Book. She's got to be all of 16 years-old, but a welcome change of pace in conversation. Acapulco is laid out like Christmas lights.
Departing Acapulco by night. It took me a LONG time to get the silhouettes from the boats in there. In the process I meet the pretty goth-girl I’ve been aware of for the last couple of days. Christina replaces observations of “Gothling” in my Little Black Book. She’s got to be all of 16 years-old, but a welcome change of pace in conversation. Acapulco is laid out like Christmas lights.

Sunrise in Ixtapa. Today we take a bus to Petatlan and wonder our way down Mexican highways.

There’s a man on this trip, his wife seems a little embarrassed by his cynicism, moreso than she is even of his constant puns.  He speaks the language fluently and has stories and jokes to tell in both languages.  He’s the most vocal detractor of the cruise at the moment, and he drops this one – the only thing he’s found worthwhile so far was a cactus garden at our first port (Cabo San Lucas, I think).  He talks about how it’s the only thing he’s seen in this country not ruined by the trash and the neglect that’s so prevalent.  He compares it to “a perfect child – a 3 to 5 year-old girl that will probably grow up to be a prostitute, but right now… they have perfect hands and perfect feet… they are perfect”.

Interesting.  I bet there’s one Hell of a history behind THAT comparison.

January 9th, 2006.

Petatlan and Ixtapa.

What the fuck is a “mofle”.  I don’t know, but it sounds damned cute!  It probably bites gently in your sleep, and sits on its haunches and nibbles gently at your toes.  Perhaps it’s purchased at the “ferreteria”.  Another term that I’ve seen a lot but have not a CLUE what it could be.

The drivers here are insane.  Very aggressive – and stop lights are brand new here… and yet I haven’t seen any accidents the whole time we’ve been in Mexico.  Interesting.

A dusty camero on the road to Petatlan. One of the few cars that’s not tricked out or hideously economic. I Love the image of it covered in the dirt. Of all of them, this is one of my favourite photos
Much like "ferreterias", I want "mofles" to be related to small fuzzy creatures. They're not.
Much like “ferreterias”, I want “mofles” to be related to small fuzzy creatures. They’re not.

I saw a jaguar and a tiger being drawn by a pickup truck through the market today.  Curse my slow-ass not-getting-my-camera-thereness-in-time.. er… ass.  Sigh.

Pedro, the crazy coconut man. Visiting a coconut plantation short of Petatlan.
Pedro, the crazy coconut man. Visiting a coconut plantation short of Petatlan.

I like the way they identify my shirt here – “tooonderrrcats!”

The day was spent chasing alligators on a little boat, spotting iguanas in trees, and avoiding panic attacks in mangrove… groves… carved with machete through wetlands infested by ducks that run on the surface of the water.

Carnage.
LIZARD!!!!
Angry, angry roosters. They stayed like that the whole time we were near them.
Angry, angry roosters. They stayed like that the whole time we were near them.q

We went to a coconut plantation and cut down coconuts and split them on steel spikes.  I hate coconut, hate the flavour and hate the texture – but fresh they are gentler and softer and exquisite.  Either eating the seed if you let them hang on the plant longer, or eating the actual … I don’t know my coconut parts very well… but they’re good… and with hot sauce?

Daaaamn.

We went out to Cuytlan and Manzanillo today, released sea turtles and wandered the black sands of the beaches there.


Marty’s talking about Grandpa.  I don’t… well… he’s just so angry [after the fact, I’ve been dreaming a LOT about my Uncle Marty just screaming obscenities at my grandfather – it makes me wake up crying and I don’t know what to do with that], and I suppose I understand that.  I was semi-fortunate in that my own father’s dissolution was comparatively rapid.  It’s horrifying to see more hospice… “victims” and realize that the mental dissolution had more to do with the drugs he was fed than with his actual death.

Iguanas in the trees! Vaguely like my concept of heaven.
Iguanas in the trees! Vaguely like my concept of heaven.
The shrine outside the church in Petatlan. So beautiful. I had to wait a long time before there was no-one inside kneeling and leaving candles. The walls are scrawled with names of families and children. This is belief in something greater.
The shrine outside the church in Petatlan. So beautiful. I had to wait a long time before there was no-one inside kneeling and leaving candles. The walls are scrawled with names of families and children. This is belief in something greater.

And that makes me angry angry angry…

“He had some kind of spell” – I think it’s bizarre that Marty would think that Grandpa is faking any of this for attention or anything.  Though I understand how his playing games would be far preferable to the dementia that everyone knows is settling in.

Marty’s exclaimation of “There’s GOBLINS down there!  Let’s SPIT on’em and tell’em it’s rain!” breaks the pall of my mood and gets me to thinking about the napkins that escape overboard, fluttering in the wind like ghosts.

January 10th, 2006.

Cuyutlan, Mexico.
A beautiful dawn after a very rocky night.  Intense seas… my grandfather seemed particularly disturbed by the fact that “you can’t see any stars”.  Off the back of the boat, the ship throws off so much light, and the streamers of exhaust from our “environmentally conscious” cruise liner totally blot out what SHOULD be an immense panorama of light.

Playing on the boat. I think Deni's lauging at something being expressed by the inebriated George. Scott's just happy to have a guitar. We're not really sure what happened to Nicole and George (there's no pictures of them cause George wasn't really photogenic and Nicole was so damned... er... curvy that I couldn't really post any photographs of her without changing the nature of my Journal).
Playing on the boat. I think Deni’s lauging at something being expressed by the inebriated George. Scott’s just happy to have a guitar. We’re not really sure what happened to Nicole and George (there’s no pictures of them cause George wasn’t really photogenic and Nicole was so damned… er… curvy that I couldn’t really post any photographs of her without changing the nature of my Journal).

There – Mexico is a good vacation spot, perhaps, for those who need to feel better about themselves and their homes.  A jaunt to safely contained ghettos surrounded by people that we really don’t understand.

Dawn in the port outside of Cuyutlan, Mexico.
Dawn in the port outside of Cuyutlan, Mexico.

Good good food in Cuyutlan.  Best food of the whole cruise.  During our exploration of the marshes (I know I’m getting dates mixed up somewhere, just bear with me, please), our guide, Noe (pronounced “No Way” but meaning Noah complete with Biblical reference) stops the boat and points out an empty canoe half-hidden on the treeline.  He calls out in rapid Spanish, and a fisherman comes wading out of the muddy waters.  Noe asks him if he’s caught anything and the fisherman pulls out a MASSIVE fish, fully a meter long.  He’s been fishing for telapia (God KNOWS I’m spelling that wrong), but caught this rovalo in the process.  Our guide buys it from him on the spot and holds it up triumphantly.

Freaked me out - crazy Jesus ducks weren't flying over the water and weren't swimming IN it - they were running ON it!
Freaked me out – crazy Jesus ducks weren’t flying over the water and weren’t swimming IN it – they were running ON it!

It becomes our dinner at the Plaza Genoveza – a ghost of a resort in a ghost of a resort town, where nevertheless I have the best fish I’ve ever had… OUR fish!  Incredible salsa – something exquisitely like taboule but with ground fish as opposed to bulgar wheat – and lime instead of lemon.  Lots of cilantro though, just like I make it.

Oh, and the woman that served it?  The most beautiful woman in all of Mexico, and NOT cause she smelled of lime and cilantro.  I think.

The aesthetic perfection of the Brazilian race is now unquestionable.  There’s a woman who passes by in white diaphanous dress that flows and sways in her passage.  She’s dark skinned and ice-eyed and long brown-honeyed hair like H1’s.  She is stunning and unimaginably perfect.

She won’t haunt me like this woman from Cuyutlan.

I bought my second ever beverage o’ alcohol from her.  I’ve fallen in Love with tequilla, and had to buy a bottle of it.



Domique Ava sucks.

Well, she’s okay.  But… all THAT fuss?  Psh.


I had my first real panic attack about the water tonight – in the dark, surrounded by it, shivering and out of breath.  I had to sprint up three flights of stairs witht that expanse of nothing reaching for my back.

Yeah, that scares the shit out of me – perhaps just because it’s so incomprehensibly huge – dark and hidden.  It’s like space or like death and really could simply hide anything.

Bare light bulbs
filament glow – strand of yellow
humming and spitting with an electric chair glow…

Noe captures us dinner from a fisherman he finds in the marshes. He proceeded to try and convince the other tourguides that he'd caught it. The only thing that was kind of funky was the swarm of ants that came out for it when he lay it at my feet. NO the ants didn't come out of my feet you bastards. Freaks. All of you. In any case, after the ant incident, he ended up holding the fish the rest of the way through our wanderings, and he was pretty tired of being so close with it by the time we got to the Plaza Genoveza where they agreed to cook it.
Noe captures us dinner from a fisherman he finds in the marshes. He proceeded to try and convince the other tourguides that he’d caught it. The only thing that was kind of funky was the swarm of ants that came out for it when he lay it at my feet. NO the ants didn’t come out of my feet you bastards. Freaks. All of you. In any case, after the ant incident, he ended up holding the fish the rest of the way through our wanderings, and he was pretty tired of being so close with it by the time we got to the Plaza Genoveza where they agreed to cook it.

chain of them rattling
not soft – never was, never will be.
Cigarette ash
ashing on the side
the wrong side, relly
into the light that shade of yellow falls
so swift
so soft
I never saw it burn at all.

Noe and his prize.
Noe and his prize.
A beautiful beam o' sunshine from our little boat.
A beautiful beam o’ sunshine from our little boat.

At this point, my Little Black Book seems to sprout even MORE bad poetry. But there were a couple of gems…

Thoughts – Whisper in my good ear please.  THose angels never remember what they whisper when they’ve been drinking (and they’re never honest when they’re sober) And those angels will refrain from noting my beauty when they’re sober.  Because a kiss can be drunk so deep when you’re high and be just a thimble when you’re sober.

Thinking about her and her and her alone.  I get down when I think too much.  Shame about that, cause you know I was always such a BRIGHT CHILD.

January 11th, 2006.

Physical gifts are strange things.  The rabbit around my neck actually calms me some.

But – beyond “I was thinking of you”, unless they are useful, I often think they just become reminders of things that were.  By definition – souvenirs – and I’m becoming less and less able to think of the past without being bitter about my choices.

And a baby sea turtle!
And a baby sea turtle!
Me and an iguana. I've never held a male before... I liked it.
Me and an iguana. I’ve never held a male before… I liked it.

I do like the gift of experiences.  Taking people places – the cruise was such a gift to me, but in this sort of thing, I’m far better at giving than receiving.sitting and watching cause I’m creepy…

Which we released into the ocean...
Which we released into the ocean…
A Camino for Jason. I didn't see ONE "El Camino", but - I saw this and thought of him. Sigh.
A Camino for Jason. I didn’t see ONE “El Camino”, but – I saw this and thought of him. Sigh.

Going through rehearsals for an on-the-boat talent show.  I’ll be playing LooseN cause I want to.  Scott’s playing the David Lee Roth version of “Ice Cream Man”.  I’m amused.  We have fun stage options, and now we ALL want to come through the stage elevator thing with the smoke machines going.  However, during the rehearsal, when one girl mentions that she wants to dance and that she’s a cheerleader, there’s an unfortunate failure of the language:

“So you’ll be shaking your tampons all over the place?”

Took a little bit of sorting out.  In any case, I’m sitting in one of the bars watching Shelly O’Brien play thinking how very beautiful she is.  As always, I’m too shy to be too close, but damn she’s exquisite in a black dress, lit soft by candle light reflected off the baby grand piano she’s playing.  Diamond earings and diamond hems – but of course, on a cruise ship, looking dazzling in a tight black dress is probably part of how you get hired for the job.

The showers on the boat are extreme, and extremely hot.  Incredible water pressure, and then I step out on the deck and let the ocean wind (breeze is too gentle a term) dry my hair.  I come inside and almost feel worthy of being in this goddesses company.

I wonder what it’s like to be that beautiful – to watch people’s eyes follow you, knowing that they are hungry.  It’s funny, I can’t imagine marring such a creature physically – leaving fingerprints or bruises – watching Shelly (or the previous Brazilians) is an excercise in trying not to stare.  It’s not even sexual, you just want to drink them in.

It’s like the ocean, or like a canyon, where the detail is unending, and you can fall into it endlessly.

The sun sets behind her hair and her halo makes it hard to see – in a world where Halo is a shooting game to me now… that’s a shame.  What ese is a shame?  That the more I listen to her the more I’m impressed by her appearance than I am by the light jazz of her performance.

Back to lower, more longing chords.  She plays things for heartbreak and for longing for home.  Not too far from the thoughts I’m thinking.  I have beauty of my own to faith back on the East Coast – and I don’t know what awaits me there.

Could I ever be kept by someone so beautiful?  They wouldn’t be human – it would be like being with Aleksandra again – though I was never anything more than a toy for her.  I wonder how jaded those perfect ones must feel towards the beauty of others and their expectations of what they deserve out of the world.  There’s no question that the world’s a little easier in some ways for the Beautiful People.  Heh.  I can ask Holly.

God, I would KILL for a ginger-ale.

Departing our last port in Manzanillo, Mexico, watching all the locals wave as the ship pulls away.
Departing our last port in Manzanillo, Mexico, watching all the locals wave as the ship pulls away.

The sun sets swiftly over the Pacific ocean. Next stop, San Diego.
The sun sets swiftly over the Pacific ocean. Next stop, San Diego.

And yet miss Shelly O’Brien could never haunt me the way that woman from Cuyutlan did.